Super Bowls are often won by the thinnest of margins.
Two teams as comparable as the Kansas City Chiefs and 49ers will be looking for any edge, any break to overcome the immense amount of talent on the other side of the ball and take home the Lombardi Trophy.
You must capitalize on any mistakes your opponent makes, and often the biggest blunders occur on the sidelines, not in between the lines.
Chiefs coach Andy Reid’s clock management issues have been well-documented and, if we’re being honest, somewhat overblown.
But in any case, another clock gaffe by Reid on Sunday at Hard Rock Stadium could be the difference in red and gold confetti raining down and … well, the other red and gold confetti.
During Reid’s only other Super Bowl appearance, when he coached the Philadelphia Eagles, Reid made several time-management errors that hampered his team’s chances of beating the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XXXIX.
The Eagles had the opportunity to lead at halftime. With the game tied 7-7 and Reid holding all three of his timeouts, the Eagles showed no desire to try to break the lead before halftime.
Running back Brian Westbrook was bottled up on first down from their own 19-yard line. Then, Donovan McNabb hit wide receiver Todd Pinkston for a 10-yard gain and allowed the clock to go from 43 seconds to 17 seconds. Reid still had all his timeouts in his pocket.
McNabb found Pinkston for 15 more yards before Reid finally used his first timeout. The Eagles then handed off to Westbrook who rushed for 22 yards to the Patriots’ 37-yard line, ending the half.
Reid kept his final two timeouts.
The more egregious error happened at the end of the game.
With under six minutes left, the Eagles got the ball trailing by 10 points and with only two timeouts remaining.
But there was no sense of urgency. The Eagles slowly inched their way down the field, gaining 49 yards on the first 12 plays of the drive.
With the clock bleeding and even FOX announcer Joe Buck wondering what Reid was doing, the Eagles coach still didn’t use his timeouts.
After the two-minute warning, the Eagles finally scored on a 30-yard pass to Greg Lewis.
The damage was done, though.
The Eagles’ onside kick failed. They got a stop with their two timeouts but only had 46 seconds left while taking over on their own 4-yard line.
A McNabb interception ended the game two plays later.
Reid’s other memorable clock mistake in the playoffs came in the 2016 divisional round when the Chiefs faced, you guessed it, the Patriots.
With the Chiefs trailing 27-13 with a little over six minutes to play, the Chiefs replayed the Eagles’ strategy from Super Bowl XXIX and burned over five minutes of time before finally scoring.
The Patriots recovered the ensuing onside kick, got a first down and Reid’s clock management again was the story.
Now back in the Super Bowl 15 years after losing to the Patriots, Reid no doubt has run through his plan for certain situations over the last two weeks.
As evenly matched as the 49ers and Chiefs are, one small error could be the difference.
Could clock management be the edge the 49ers need to win Super Bowl LIV? In the biggest game in sports, anything is possible.