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Late Eagles touchdown is big score for books

A late touchdown pass by quarterback Donovan McNabb did not win the Super Bowl for the Philadelphia Eagles. It did produce a super Sunday for the sports books, however.

New England, which closed as a 7-point favorite over Philadelphia, led by 10 at the two-minute warning and was in position to cover the spread.

But a lot of money changed hands after McNabb’s 30-yard scoring throw to Greg Lewis with 1:48 remaining helped the Eagles get the back-door cover.

The Patriots held on to win 24-21, and the final score came in under the total of 47 1/2.

“Almost every book probably needed New England to win but not cover,” Las Vegas Hilton sports book director Jay Kornegay said. “The worst scenario would have been for the Patriots to cover and it go over the total.

“It was probably one of the bigger back-door touchdowns we’ve had in the Super Bowl in a long, long time. If we didn’t get that last touchdown, we probably would have broken even on the game.”

The Nevada Gaming Control Board will release the total amount wagered on the game late this week. The handle might not set a state record, but the books are expected to record a significant win.

A record $81.2 million was wagered on last year’s Super Bowl, with the state’s books winning a record $12.4 million.

“I would be surprised if the total handle throughout the state exceeded last year,” said Stardust sports book director Bob Scucci, who predicted two marquee teams would attract significant wagering.

“It came close to what we expected. I anticipated more because of the matchup, but we haven’t seen that.”

The NFL’s policy against Super Bowl parties forced Las Vegas hotels to move the traditional game-day gatherings from bigger ballrooms to books and other areas of the casinos. The weekend crowds at various locations around town appeared to be smaller than they were last year.

“That was probably the only thing that prevented it from being a record,” Kornegay said.

The most popular parlay bets were on the Patriots to cover and over the …