Jim Alexander: Well, we’ve survived another over-the-top Super Bowl week – Wretched Excess LVIII, let’s say, this one in the capital of that particular concept. And with all the side questions and talking points and normal things that have nothing to do with football that make the Super Bowl the national talking point, we have a real second guess that actually had to do with the win or lose. And maybe an explanation.
The 49ers, as we all know, won the coin toss and took the first possession of overtime. Under the old overtime rules – the team that scores first wins – this is a no-brainer, and even with the recent changes it still seemed like the way to go. But the latest adjustment, guaranteeing at least one possession for each team unless there was a defensive touchdown on the first possession, made it more logical to let the other guys start and then know exactly what was needed to earn.
One theory at the time was that Kyle Shanahan wanted the ball first because his defense was exhausted, which made sense. (Both defenses were tired at this point.) Another explanation was that the 49ers were thinking about the third OT possession, given that if it got to that point it would be sudden death.
But how about this: According to Lindsay Jones of The Ringer, the Chiefs were not only aware of the new rules, but had also discussed them as far back as training camp, and at that point, they were fully aware of their options . But several 49ers players said they weren’t aware of the changes, and defensive lineman Arik Armstead said he only learned about it when they posted the updated rules on the stadium video board.
It’s all in the details, right?
Mirjam Swanson: It’s always like that.
When this discussion began at my house last night, it felt very retrospective — as if, of course, we were going to think the other way was the way to go when Shanahan’s decision didn’t work.
But the more I think about it, the more it seems to me that you’re right: before you can have a sudden death advantage, you have to achieve sudden death.
You play LeBron 40 minutes into Game 6 if it means forcing a Game 7 and worry about it later. You throw your ace in relief to extend a series. You just have to give yourself as many chances and as much information as possible to win.
And no one should want to give Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid what is essentially extra ground to work with when they know exactly what to do with it: “We need a TD? Cool.” Especially not with a championship game on the line. Especially knowing…how prepared they’re going to be.
Otherwise, did you enjoy the game, Jim?
Jimmy: After a while. At first, it reminded me too much of what happened five years ago in Atlanta and that unbearable battle between the Patriots and the Rams that ended 13-3. (As an aside, I think the most notable celebrity at Mercedes Benz Stadium that night was Danny Trejo.) But it turned out to be another compelling Super Bowl, and we’ve had a bunch of those lately , enough so that we can forget all those years when the final game of the season every year was a blowout — or at least seemed like it — and everyone wondered if the two-week break between conference championship games and the Super Bowl was to blame.
The game itself was really good. The secondary issues – Travis Kelce exploding on Andy Reid on the Chiefs sideline, Dre Greenlaw injuring his Achilles while running on the field – were well covered by CBS. (Contrary to popular opinion, I didn’t think Tony Romo talked too much.) And, of course, we had the requisite shots of Taylor Swift, and if that helps introduce the game to a new generation of teenage girls, it is a victory/win.
As for other things, I skipped the halftime show, like I always do; this doesn’t appeal to my demographic. (Even with the two Super Bowls I covered on location, in Atlanta and SoFi two years ago, I found other things to do at halftime). As far as commercials go, the only non-religious, non-commercial spot that was halfway memorable was Lionel Messi’s – and it’s also the only one where I remember what was being advertised, Michelob Ultra. (As for the “Jesus Gets Us” and RFK Jr. spots, I’ll keep my judgment to myself.)
Otherwise, it was a lot of: “You spent $7 million for a 30-second spot on This?”
Which is why, essentially, I may be in the minority. I’m here for the game, period. And I think what most of us forgot was that this wasn’t the best KC team in that race, not at all. It certainly wasn’t the Chiefs’ most effective offensive line. But this was a case of a team with strong veteran leadership doing its best when it was needed most.
Mirjam: The halftime show was fun! I’m more Erykah Badu than Usher, but I love great performances – whether there’s a score to keep or not, or an artist I’d pay to see or not. And, I promise, yesterday’s was good.
And the game too! A slow burn, sure, but what a reward. Drama, this decision to mull over, and now a real dynasty, right?
Is it incredibly difficult to repeat in the NFL and accumulate as much success as KC has in recent years? Do the Chiefs become the first back-to-back champion since the New England Patriots did it nearly 20 years ago? Win a third title in five seasons? And do it with know-how and will, but not with their strongest team?
I understand why I see little kids running around Los Angeles in No. 15 jerseys. Mahomes deserves Michael Jordan’s comps.
As for the advertisements? I feel like maybe I’ve gotten older. When I was a kid, we would laugh and laugh and talk about them and reenact so many of those Super Bowl commercials for days. Tell me, Jim, is it us…or is it them (the ads)?
Jimmy: It’s them.
A few more observations: Maybe it’s just my perception, but the Chiefs are a much nicer dynasty in the making than the Patriots were, in large part because Andy Reid – the pride of Los Angeles, elsewhere, from Marshall High School – is a team leader. coach with real human qualities, and it’s easy to root for Mahomes. Maybe a few State Farm commercials would have humanized Belichick and Brady…or they could have sent customers in droves to other insurance agencies.
And then there’s this: the established over/under for Reba McEntire’s rendition of the national anthem (which was awesome, by the way) was 86.5 seconds. It took 95 seconds. I’m not sure how much was bet, but I suspect a fair amount changed hands. And let’s face it: Super Bowls not only crown champions, they’re also good for business.
Mirjam: And what a great American tradition!
Last question for you: Are you confident the Chiefs will do it again next year?
Jimmy: Each season is its own story, with the cast and main characters changing from year to year, which is part of the reason why dynasties are so important and rare. And the most intriguing aspect of the 2024 NFL season, to me, is seeing how (or if) Jim Harbaugh transforms the Chargers, and what that does to the balance of power in the AFC West.
Mahomes won his first Super Bowl in his third NFL season, 2019. Justin Herbert will begin his fifth NFL season this fall. If he wants to realize his immense potential, now is the time. So I’m really looking forward to these two meetings next fall.
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