You can argue that the Super Bowl 2024 commercials – got to love Arnold Schwarzenegger as a State Farm action hero – and half-time show, with muscled-up Usher skating around and doffing his top, were more exciting than the first two quarters of the big game itself.

Minimal scoring and sloppy play – with each side enduring a fumble while threatening to score, dumb penalties and only 13 points between the two teams – left the Super Bowl falling squarely into under (and underwhelming) territory.

The total looked to settle way short of the 47.5 over/under line offered by the 888sport NFL odds compilers. A big bummer for Kansas City – and for Taylor Swift, who seemed all but invisible for the first half – was just one reception for one yard by the normally popping Travis Kelce.

More impressive: the top price for a single ticket was a stunning $100,000 and deep-pocketed companies spent $7 million for 30-seconds of on-air advertising.

Christian McCaffrey was a way more upbeat story by the time Usher took to the stage. A go-to 49er, McCaffrey had 33 rushing yards, 47 receiving yards and the game’s lone touchdown as halftime neared.

Then, with the second-quarter clock ticking down, the Chiefs managed to squeeze a field goal, landed from 28 yards out. It was delivered by clutch kicker Harrison Butker. Announcers noted that the distance is just about where he kicked from to win the 2023 Super Bowl.

And it could not have come a moment too soon. No team has ever won a Super Bowl after being shut out in the first half. But, then, those teams did not have Patrick “King of the Comeback” Mahomes in the pocket.

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Mahomes was 8-2 when trailing by 7 or more points at the start of the second half in playoff games. Nevertheless, with the Chiefs down 10 - 3 at that point, 888 had the team as a 6.5-point underdog (pre-game, KC was +1.5).

Soon after the start of the second half, Patrick Mahomes uncharacteristically threw an interception and the 6.5 points suddenly seemed increasingly less generous.

Both teams were off to slow starts, with there not being a first down until 6-minutes and 3-seconds into the third quarter. Soon after, though, play kicked into high gear and the 2024 Super Bowl was poised to become the most exciting NFL championships in memory.

Call it a slow burn, but suddenly the game sizzled.

Getting there, however, was hard won. Isiah Pacheco, usually reliable as a runner for Mahomes, managed just 59 yards in 18 carries over the course of the game.

He blew two fourth-and-1 opportunities. Even Mahomes struggled for much of the showdown. His classic scrambling felt unachievable for the first three quarters, as he was continually besieged by the 49ers defense.

If there was a Super Bowl standout, you could do worse than credit San Francisco’s Jauan Jennings with that accolade.

He unexpectedly threw a perfect pass to Christian McCaffrey, which resulted in the first touchdown of the game. Then he caught the ball and snaked his way into the end zone.

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When the game hit overtime – the third such outcome in the last 30 or so years, which was a financial disaster for the sports books and a windfall for gamblers who took long odds on bets that the game would enter OT – he managed to lure Trent McDuffie into a holding penalty during the minutes that really mattered.

As the score indicates, field goal kicks were big in this game. During the second quarter, the 49ers’ Jake Moody made a record setting field goal by booting one over the crossbar from 55 yards out.

Then, in the second half, Harrison Butker did him one better: He managed a 57-yarder. Two records were broken in quick succession. As Sasha Baron Cohen’s Borat might say: Nice!

Another Butker 3-pointer sent the game into overtime. Soon after, Moody’s final field goal of the game put the 49ers ahead by three points after the team’s first and only OT drive.

But it wasn’t enough. Mahomes sprang to life when the heat was on. Running, passing, managing the offense as everyone knows he can, Mahomes closed the game in style.

He tossed a final pass that found its end-zone target of Mecole Hardman. Improbably, Hardman said he “blacked out” after scoring. Good memories aside, the 49ers took down the championship by winning 25-22, causing most over/under Super Bowl bets to push.

Now, with the Chiefs ranking as the eighth team to win a record tying two Super Bowls back-to-back, Mahomes and company will be aiming to set a record by going three in a row. Who’s up for making a futures bet on that outcome? I know I am.

*Credit for all of the photos in this article belongs to Alamy*

Michael Kaplan is a journalist based in New York City. He has written extensively on gambling for publications such as Wired, Playboy, Cigar Aficionado, New York Post and New York Times.

He is the author of four books including Aces and Kings: Inside Stories and Million-Dollar Strategies from Poker’s Greatest Players. He’s been known to do a bit of gambling when the timing seems right.