Super Bowl overtime rules, explained: Why the Chiefs didn’t call timeout at end of first OT in Super Bowl 58

Andy Reid has often been the subject of controversial clock-management decisions, but while everyone was still learning the new playoff overtime rules, Reid was right on the money.

Super Bowl 58 went to overtime between the Chiefs and 49ers, and after San Francisco kicked a field goal with 7:22 left in the first overtime, the Chiefs drove down to the 49ers’ three-yard line, facing 1st-and-goal with around 40 seconds left, but despite having two timeouts left, they let the clock tick down, causing plenty to wonder why Kansas City wasn’t using a timeout to prevent the game from ending.

As it turned out, Reid and the Chiefs didn’t have to worry about time. Patrick Mahomes threw a three-yard pass to Mecole Hardman to win the game 25-22 for Kansas City with three seconds on the game clock. However, even if the Chiefs threw an incompletion or a completion short of the goal line, they were still in good shape.

Why is that the case? Here’s what you need to know.

MORE: Kyle Shanahan gives questionable explanation on starting OT with the ball

Super Bowl overtime rules

The Chiefs were largely responsible for the league changing overtime rules in the past. After their divisional-round win over the Bills in 2022 when Buffalo never touched the ball in OT, the league decided to give each team a full possession before a postseason overtime game could end, even if the first team scores a touchdown.

However, having that second possession doesn’t mean the game ends when the game clock strikes zero. Based on the new rules, the team that gets the ball second can finish its possession in a second overtime. Think of it as if it was the first and second quarter. The Chiefs would not have to worry about burning a timeout because, at the end of the first OT, they would have the ball at the exact same yard line, just on the other side of the field.

MORE SUPER BOWL 58:
Winners & losers | Breaking down final drive | ‘Purdy’ good not enough to beat Mahomes

Of course, if the Chiefs had thrown an interception, lost a fumble, missed a field goal, or turned the ball over on downs, then the game would have ended. Those are the only ways the game would have ended with the 49ers winning in that situation. The clock would not have been a factor.

In essence, playoff overtime really doesn’t even need to have a clock other than to keep track of when to switch sides of the field. The game ends after each team has had at least one possession and one team has the lead, making the ticking clock a little misleading.

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