02/05/2007 1:00AM

All who teased were winners


When the Kentucky Derby is run on a sloppy track, history doesn't care. It's still the Derby and the winner is regarded as such. And when the Colts of a different breed beat the Bears, 29-17, in Super Bowl XLI, it will be just a footnote in the history books that it was the first Super Bowl played in the rain.

The sports books here in Las Vegas were jam-packed Sunday with long lines at the betting windows and raucous cheering throughout, heightened by the proposition wagers available on all aspects of the game.

Statewide betting figures won't be released until the middle of the week, but with many precincts reporting, it's likely that last year's record $94.5omillion in handle will be exceeded and the sports books should show a tidy profit, though certainly nothing close to the record $15.4 million win the books enjoyed two years ago.

The main reason for the books' optimism is that while the Colts were favored by 7 most of the two weeks leading up to the game, the vast majority of tickets and most of the money were written on the Bears. The line closed at 6 1/2 at most books in town, including the Las Vegas Hilton, Station Casinos, and Palms (with the low being Colts -6 at the Stratosphere), with the Strip's mega-casino chains at MGM Mirage and Caesars/Harrah's closing at -7 but with extra juice of -115 and -120, respectively, for those who wanted to take the Bears +7.

The books were also helped by the fact that the game ended under the closing number of 47 1/2 as a Colts/over parlay would have really cut into their profits. The books did give back some on the total as more tickets were written on the under, especially with the increasingly bad weather reports leading up to game time, but what also kept it from approaching a record win will be the fact that all teaser bets cashed. A teaser is where you can move the line in your favor, a 6-point teaser being the most common, and in this game it didn't matter if you took Colts -1, Bears +13, over 41 1/2, or under 53 1/2, any combination was a winner.

Recap of various prop bets

More prop bets were determined faster than any Super Bowl in history when the Bears' Devin Hester returned the opening kickoff 92 yards for a touchdown. Where I was watching the game, Chicago fans and bettors were going nuts with the early lead, but also cheering big were those that had Hester at 30-1 to score the game's first touchdown (oh, that might have just been me). Either team scoring in the first 6 1/2 minutes was a -135 favorite, the first score being a touchdown was a -160 favorite, the Bears were a +140 underdog to score first, the longest touchdown of the game went over 43o1/2 yards, the number of the first player to score was under 61 1/2, and the odds on whether there would be a special teams or defensive touchdown the entire game was +150. Nevada gaming regulations don't allow wagers on the coin flip, per se, so most books word the prop as "Who will receive the opening kickoff?" and the Bears were the winning wager at most books. Wynn Las Vegas threw its bettors a curve as the prop was worded "Who will run the first play from scrimmage?" Those who took the Bears suffered a bad beat there.

* When Peyton Manning hit Reggie Wayne with a 53-yard touchdown pass, it went over Manning's longest completion prop (37 1/2) and Wayne's (22 1/2) and set up the first controversial prop decision. The holder on the extra point, Hunter Smith, bobbled the snap and kicker Adam Vinatieri grabbed the loose ball and tried to run it in. When he failed, and because he didn't kick it, books graded it as a failed two-point conversion attempt. It also kept the game from being tied, as bettors who had the "yes" on "Will the game be tied after 0-0?" suffered a bad beat.

* The Colts led 16-14 late in the first half and got the ball back on a Rex Grossman fumble. It looked like they would settle for a Vinatieri field goal, which was significant since the first-half line was Colts -4. When the usually reliable Vinatieri missed wide left, Bears first-half bettors survived a bullet. The score was well over the first-half total of 23 1/2, but scoring had significantly slowed down. After going over the first-quarter total of 10, the last three quarters all went under.

* The Colts extended their lead to 22-14 with two successful Vinatieri field goals in the third quarter (putting him over his total of 8 points), but when the Bears' Robbie Gould kicked a 44-yarder in the rain (the over/under on longest field goal by either kicker was 43 1/2 yards), they were back within the spread at 22-17, and they stopped the Colts and got the ball back early in the fourth quarter. Grossman hit Mushin Muhammad with a 22-yard pass to move them out to their own 38-yard line and it looked like they might be back in the game, but then Grossman's pass on the next play was intercepted by Kelvin Hayden and run back for a touchdown and gave the Colts the final spread-covering 29-17 margin as the Bears failed in three subsequent attempts to even move the ball past midfield. That play also cashed for those who took the Colts to score last at -135 and for the last score to be a touchdown at -200. Hayden was not listed in the "last player to score a TD" prop, so the "field of all other players" cashed at 5-1.

* The last suspenseful betting decision was on the over/under of the game. With 46 having been scored and most people holding tickets between 47 1/2 and 48 1/2, the Colts had the ball inside the Bears' 20 with less than two minutes remaining but opted to go on fourth down instead of risking another special teams snafu. When they didn't convert, that kept the game under as the Bears were unable to threaten in their ensuing possession.