"When the music’s over"
With the Tampa Bay Buccaneers ahead 20-3 at halftime in last Sunday’s Super Bowl, I had a 60’s flashback as the Doors’ famous song, “When The Music’s Over,” echoed through my mind. The fat lady was humming loudly and the Raider fans seemed dazed and confused.
As Bay Area fans were licking their wounds and praying for a team rally, bookmakers in Northern Nevada smiled. The premier team seemed destined for defeat.
The betting line opened at Raiders -4 and early money was all Oakland. Unseasoned bookmakers lost sleep, as betting continued unabated. The Bucs’ line headed skyward, as some bookmakers were willing to give Tampa Bay 5 points and projected even higher spreads.
It changed Sunday morning as the trend reversed overseas with rumors of Oakland’s all pro center not starting. It was now showtime for the Buccaneers’ fans as they pounded the money line, driving it down from +$1.70 to +$1.30. The Raiders spread headed south and by game time Raiders -3.5 was the norm.
Oakland received the third-quarter kickoff as Bay Area fans had illusions of a comeback. What they hoped would be the start of an unprecedented comeback, Raiders’ quarterback Rich Gannon connected with 2:14 left in the third period, hitting Jerry Porter for a 39-yard touchdown, making it 34-9. A blocked punt at the beginning of the fourth quarter resulted in another touchdown, making it 34-15 and giving Raider fans a reason to cheer.
Smiles turned to frowns as Tampa Bay scored and the time clock ticked away. Oakland fans began to realize that the “mighty Gannon might strike out” and Oakland’s first Super Bowl team in 20 years was destined for defeat.
Monday morning, Northern Nevada bookmakers returned to work. Employees were weary, fans dejected and high rollers were drawing markers, not understanding how a quality team like Oakland could lose 48-21. Was it Bucs’ coach Jon Gruden’s knowledge of Oakland’s offense? Was it the outstanding Buccaneers defense? I’d just say it’s the NFL.
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