LAS VEGAS, Nev. — Over the past few seasons, there’s plenty of discussion about the NFL playoffs overtime rules, and the new adjustments loomed large in Super Bowl 58.
That led to discussions from the Bills and other teams across the league about both teams having a chance to have the ball in OT during the playoffs.
The Chiefs proposed a rule change back then to allow both teams to get a chance, but nothing was done at the time.
Under the previous rules, if the team that got the ball first scored a touchdown, they won. But after the 2021 Divisional game, the league changed the rules to where both teams have a chance to possess the ball no matter what.
While the Chiefs did hold the 49ers to a field goal and would have had a chance to score under the old rules, losing the coin toss didn’t have the same effect as it did in years past.
In fact, many questioned the 49ers’ decision to get the ball first with the new rule changes. 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan explained his decision.
“It’s just something we talked about. None of us have a ton of experience, but we went through all the analytics and talked to those guys,” Shanahan said.
“We wanted the ball third. If both teams matched and scored, we wanted to be the ones who had the chance to go win. 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.”
But on the contrary, multiple 49ers players said they were unaware of the new overtime rules.
“I didn’t even realize that the playoff rules were different in overtime, so I assumed you just want the ball because you score a touchdown and win,” 49ers fullback Kyle Kyle Juszczyk said. “I don’t totally know the strategy there.”
Niners defensive end Arik Armstead wasn’t aware of the new OT rules until they were explained during the game.
“I didn’t even know about the new playoff overtime rules. It was a surprise to me. I didn’t even really even know what was going on in terms of that. They put [the rules] on the scoreboard and everyone was like ‘Oh, even if you score they get a chance still.'”
While Shanahan’s theory makes sense, it’s a lot easier said than done and very risky giving Patrick Mahomes the ball with a chance to go win the game.
“They’re crazy there because the overtime rules have changed where both teams get the ball no matter who scores,” Chris Jones said. “We get the ball back to Andy, Pat and Trav, we always feel like there’s something they can do in any given moment that they can be in the end zone — and they just did that.”
The Chiefs said they would’ve done the opposite given the same situation.
“That can go either way. We would have kicked the ball off,” Andy Reid said.
Reid said he discussed it with Mahomes, special teams coach Dave Toub and Chiefs statistical analysis coordinator Mike Frazier.
Regardless, it ended up working in the Chiefs favor on a Mahomes walk-off TD pass to Mecole Hardman, giving the Chiefs back-to-back titles.