As the San Francisco 49ers saw a potential Super Bowl victory slip away in regulation, and slip away definitively in overtime, a lot of questions started popping up on sports social media as to what exactly happened that allowed the Kansas City Chiefs to take victory out of the Niners hands on Sunday night.
Fast forward to Monday morning and NFL journalists are sharing comments from Niners players who claim that they were not aware, or told, about how the rules work in the Super Bowl as it pertains the overtime.
“I didn’t even know about the new playoff overtime rule, so it was a surprise to me,” 49ers defensive lineman Arik Armstead said (h/t ESPN). “I didn’t even really know what was going on in terms of that.”
Out of 58 Super Bowls, last night’s marked only the second time that a Super Bowl game went to overtime, and marked the first time it did so under the new overtime rules that were put in place to ensure both teams get a chance to possess the ball before the game ends, unless the initial drive in overtime resulted in a safety.
Overtime rules in the regular season are different, as the game comes to an end if the first team to possess the ball in overtime scores a touchdown.
The 49ers did neither, and their first drive in overtime resulted in a 27-yard field goal.
The Chiefs ensured that it was the last shot that the Niners had at winning the Super Bowl, as the Chiefs marched down the field during a 13-play drive that resulted in a 3-yard game winning pass from Patrick Mahomes to wide receiver Mecole Coleman that cemented a 25-22 Chiefs Super Bowl victory.
49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan said he and his analytics staff discussed overtime possibilities before the game, but some player refute that.
“You know what? I didn’t even realize the playoff rules were different in overtime,” Niners fullback Kyle Juszczyk said. “I assume you just want the ball to score a touchdown and win. I guess that’s not the case. I don’t totally know the strategy there. We hadn’t talked about it, no.”
The Chiefs, however, were well aware.
“We’ve talked about it all year,” Chiefs safety Justin Andy Reid said. “We talked about it in training camp about how the rules were different in regular season versus the playoffs. Every week of the playoffs we talked about the overtime rule.”