What do football immortals Matt Suhey, Zeke Mowatt, and Howard Twilley all have in common?
All three of those men were the first player to score a touchdown in the Super Bowl in their respective appearances on Super Sunday.
Baltimore will take on San Francisco in Super Bowl XLVII at 6:30 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 3, at the Superdome in New Orleans. One of the more interesting and unpredictable proposition wagers that bettors will make on the Super Bowl is to gauge the odds on the first player to score a touchdown in the Super Bowl.
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While the most popular offensive players on each team generally garner the lowest odds and the most wagers, Super Bowl history shows us some obscure players have had their moment of glory as the first player to find pay dirt in The Big Game. Suhey (Chicago Bears, Super Bowl XX), Mowatt (New York Giants, Super Bowl XXI) and Twilley (Miami Dolphins, Super Bowl VII) are just some examples.
While the running backs are generally given the most favorable odds to score first, wide receivers has actually been the most common position to give us the first player to score a touchdown in the Super Bowl. Twenty wide receivers have scored first in the 46 Super Bowls. Running backs are second, with 16 running backs scoring the Super Bowl’s first touchdown.
Tight ends are third, with four tight ends notching the first score of the game.
Only two quarterbacks have ever scored the first touchdown of the game. Joe Montana (Super Bowl XIX) and Ben Roethlisberger (Super Bowl XL) both managed one-yard sneaks to open the touchdown scoring in their respective games.
There have been four Super Bowls where the first player to score a touchdown came on defense or special teams. The first occurrence was in Super Bowl XVIII when Derrick Jensen recovered a blocked punt and scored for the Raiders. Ty Law scored the first touchdown in Super Bowl XXXVI when he returned an interception for a score.
Two kick returners were the first player to score a touchdown in the Super Bowl. Devin Hester returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown in XLI and Stanford Jennings had a 93-yard kickoff return for Cincinnati in Super Bowl XXIII.
Oh, and for those of you thinking about rolling the dice with “No TD scored in the game” at 75-to-1, just know that there has never been a Super Bowl without a touchdown.
As for predictions on the first player to score a touchdown in the Super Bowl, I wouldn’t really touch this bet. I don’t think any of the odds really reflect how random scoring the first TD is, and this is coming from a guy that went back and looked up who scored each of the prior 46 touchdowns.
But if I had to make a prediction for the first touchdown in the Super Bowl prop, I would recommend going with a random, high-odds player. I like Torrey Smith (+1000) and Delanie Walker (+1800). I would also take “The Field” because it includes LaMichael James and some other random guys, including defenders.
Here is a breakdown of the odds on the first player to score a touchdown in the Super Bowl:
Frank Gore, San Francisco (+650)
Gore is the obvious choice for the odds-on favorite to score first. He has scored three touchdowns this postseason, and he was San Francisco’s leading scorer this year with 10 touchdowns. However, it’s not going to be that easy to punch one in against the Ravens defense. Baltimore’s defensive line is massive, and they have yet to give up a rushing TD in three playoff games.
Michael Crabtree, San Francisco (+750)
Crabtree is a solid option for the first score as well. As I mentioned, wide receivers have been the way to play it and have scored first the most times. Crabtree had nine receiving touchdowns this year – the same amount as San Francisco’s next three leading wideouts combined – and caught two scores against Green Bay in the Divisional Round. But, again, you know the Ravens are going to roll coverage to his side and try to make San Fran’s No. 2 and No. 3 receivers beat them.
Ray Rice, Baltimore (+750)
Like Gore, Rice is the leading rusher and leading scorer for the Ravens. However, like Gore, scoring a rushing touchdown against the opposing defense is a lot easier said than done. San Francisco has surrendered just 10 rushing touchdowns the past two regular seasons combined. The Niners have yielded just one rushing touchdown in four postseason games the past two years as well, so I think the odds on Rice being the first player to find the end zone might be a little longer than 7.5-to-1.
Anquan Boldin, Baltimore (+800)
Boldin has been excellent in the postseason and is the hottest thing going in the Ravens passing game. He has played in the Super Bowl before (XLIII with Arizona), but prior to this year had actually never scored a postseason touchdown. In fact, James Harrison’s amazing 100-yard interception return score in that Super Bowl came when Kurt Warner tried to force the ball to Boldin at the goal line.
Boldin scored twice against New England and once against Indy. The Ravens have simply been lobbing the ball up to Boldin and letting him outwork opposing defensive backs. However, he hasn’t faced a secondary like San Francisco’s. And I think the 49ers shifting coverage his way could create great value to Torrey Smith.
Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco (+800)
As I pointed out, quarterbacks have only scored the first touchdown in the Super Bowl twice in 46 years. I know most people think that because he is a “running quarterback” that increases his odds. But Kaepernick only rushed twice against Atlanta in the NFC Championship Game. And he only scored three rushing touchdowns in the last 10 regular season games.
Also, I expect the odds on all Kaepernick props to be off the mark. ESPN had a report on Friday, citing oddsmaker Jimmy Vaccaro, hat he is the most-bet-on player he has seen and that he’s “never seen interest on prop bets like I’ve seen with Kaepernick”.
Vernon Davis, San Francisco (+900)
I think that Davis is definite X-factor for the 49ers offense. He has had one of his quietest offensive seasons ever, with just 41 catches and 548 yards. But he busted out for 5-106 and a score against Atlanta. And last year he was an animal in the playoffs, scoring four touchdowns in two games while hauling in 10 catches. Baltimore has been very good against opposing tight ends. But Davis is a beast, and you have to figure he will figure prominently into San Francisco’s plans.
Here is the full list of odds for the first player to score in the Super Bowl:
Frank Gore, San Fran (+650)
Michael Crabtree, San Fran (+750)
Ray Rice, Baltimore (+750)
Anquan Boldin, Baltimore (+800)
Colin Kaepernick, San Fran (+800)
Vernon Davis, San Fran (+900)
Torrey Smith, Baltimore (+1000)
Dennis Pitta, Baltimore (+1200)
Randy Moss, San Fran (+1200)
Delanie Walker, San Fran (+1800)
Bernard Pierce, Baltimore (+2000)
Ed Dickson, Baltimore (+2500)
Jacoby Jones, Baltimore (+2500)
Joe Flacco, Baltimore (+3000)
Anthony Dixon, San Fran (+3300)
Ed Reed, Baltimore (+3300)
Ted Ginn Jr., San Fran (+3300)
Vonta Leach, Baltimore (+3300)
Ray Lewis, Baltimore (+5000)
No TD scored in the game (+7500)
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Read more articles by Robert Ferringo