Chiefs Rally To Win Super Bowl As Some 49ers Admit Confusion About Overtime Rules

February 12, 2024 by Staff

The Kansas City Chiefs won another Super Bowl Sunday night, and Patrick Mahomes nabbed a third MVP trophy in the process after rallying his team from a 10-0 deficit for a 25-22 win over the San Francisco 49ers in overtime.

According to FanDuel,com NFL odds, bettors and oddsmakers seem convinced that Mahomes is the man to bet on as the 2024-25 MVP favorite, and yet the 49ers top the list of 2024-25 Super Bowl favorites.

After last night's game was over, some players on the losing side said they were unaware that the overtime rules for playoff games differed from the regular season overtime rules. Meanwhile, those on the winning side said they covered the changes at length in preparation for the game.

Defensive lineman Arik Armstead said, "It was a surprise to me..... They put it on the scoreboard and everyone was thinking, even if you score, they get a chance still?

Fullback Kyle Juszczyk admitted, "I didn't even realize that the playoff rules were different in overtime. I just assumed you won the ball, you score a touchdown and you win."

Surely, those players on the 49ers weren't alone in their lack of knowledge about the special overtime rules. It's doubtful that more than a small percentage of fans had any knowledge of the difference.

Overtime rules have changed dramatically since the NFL added an overtime period to regular season games in 1974.

In 2010, the league installed a modified sudden-death overtime system to help determine a winner in the postseason. Two seasons later, the league expanded those rules to cover all NFL games. Those rules gave both teams the opportunity to possess the ball at least once in overtime. Although, during the regular season, if the team that gets the ball first scores a touchdown on the opening possession, they win.

In 2017, NFL clubs approved shortening overtime in the regular season to 10 minutes from 15. The rule change was aimed at improving player safety.

In 2022, NFL clubs approved a rule that allows both teams to possess the ball in overtime in the postseason.

Here are the two variations of overtime rules


  • At the end of regulation, the referee will toss a coin to determine which team will possess the ball first in overtime. The visiting team captain will call the toss.
  • No more than one 10-minute period will follow a three-minute intermission. Each team must possess, or have the opportunity to possess, the ball. The exception: if the team that gets the ball first scores a touchdown on the opening possession.
  • Sudden death play — where the game ends on any score (safety, field goal or touchdown) — continues until a winner is determined.
  • Each team gets two timeouts.
  • The point after try is not attempted if the game ends on a touchdown.
  • If the score is still tied at the end of the overtime period, the result of the game will be recorded as a tie.
  • There are no instant replay coach’s challenges; all reviews will be initiated by the replay official.


Unlike regular season games, postseason games cannot end in a tie, so the overtime rules change slightly for the playoffs.

  • If the score is still tied at the end of an overtime period — or if the second team’s initial possession has not ended — the teams will play another overtime period. Play will continue regardless of how many overtime periods are needed for a winner to be determined.
  • There will be a two-minute intermission between each overtime period. There will not be a halftime intermission after the second period.
  • The captain who lost the first overtime coin toss will either choose to possess the ball or select which goal his team will defend, unless the team that won the coin toss deferred that choice.
  • Each team will have an opportunity to possess the ball in overtime.
  • Each team gets three timeouts during a half.
  • The same timing rules that apply at the end of the second and fourth regulation periods also apply at the end of a second or fourth overtime period.
  • If there is still no winner at the end of a fourth overtime period, there will be another coin toss, and play will continue until a winner is declared.

In Hindsight

In essence, overtime in a playoff game is an entire new game.

Last night, San Francisco won the overtime coin toss and elected to receive, which would be appropriate if you thought you could win the game by scoring a touchdown, as in the case in the regular season. But given that both teams get a crack at the ball on offense, regardless if the first team scores a field goal or a touchdown, the proper move would have been to choose to be on defense first.

San Francisco head coach Kyle Shanahan refuted what some his players were saying. "None of us have a ton of experience with it, but we went through the analytics and talked to those guys and thought it would be better (to get the ball first)" Shanahan said. "We wanted the ball third." In other words, Shanahan's thinking was that, if both teams scored a field goal, or both teams scored a TD, he'd have the next-best moment to capitalize.

Shanahan added, "We got that field goal, so we knew we had to hold them at least to a field goal and if we did we felt it was in our hands after that."

As we now know, the 49ers wound up kicking a 27-yard field goal for a 22-19 lead with 7:22 to play in the first quarter of extra time, only to have the Chiefs answer with a game-winning 3-yard roll-out pass to right to Mecole Hardman in the endzone with 3 seconds remaining. Had Kansas City not scored on that play and the clock ran out, no sweat. The game would have simply moved to the second quarter with KC still in scoring position.