Troy Aikman arrives at Super Bowl LIV at Hard Rock...

Troy Aikman arrives at Super Bowl LIV at Hard Rock Stadium on Sunday in Miami, Fla. Credit: Getty Images/Rob Carr

It is one of the oldest cliches in the Super Bowl week book: players vowing to treat it like any other game. Some succeed, others don’t.

That is what television producers and announcers should aspire to, as well, and so it was for Fox on Sunday night for the Chiefs’ interesting, entertaining 31-20 victory over the 49ers in Super Bowl LIV.

That is not to say that Fox in general and its No. 1 announcing team of Joe Buck and Troy Aikman in particular failed to rise to a special occasion.

On the contrary, it was a smooth and professional performance. But it also was a welcome model of relative restraint, given the stakes.

Buck and Aikman enjoy the comfort of a long TV partnership. They were doing their sixth Super Bowl together, and that familiarity showed.

It sounded as if it could have been just another good late Sunday afternoon game in mid-November.

Fox avoided falling into bells-and-whistles traps on the production side, other than the unveiling of a new graphics package that included drawings of players who scored touchdowns and a new look for its clock-and-score box.

Not that all was perfect. It never is. More questioning of why the 49ers went away from their vaunted running game as they tried and failed to bleed the fourth-quarter clock would have been welcome.

But mostly, Buck and Aikman were on top of debatable strategies, such as when 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan made a questionable decision not to call a timeout before a Chiefs punt late in the first half.

Fox got an excellent shot of 49ers general manager John Lynch signaling for a timeout from a suite at Hard Rock Stadium.

Shortly thereafter, Aikman agreed with an offensive pass interference call against the 49ers that negated a long completion, and his opinion was seconded by rules expert Mike Pereira, who was on point all night.

Aikman noted that the 49ers were frustrating Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes by taking away deep throws. Then, with the 49ers leading 20-10 and 7:13 left, Aikman flatly stated the obvious: “He’s not played well.”

Seconds later, on third-and-15 from his own territory, Mahomes found Tyreek Hill for a 44-yard completion that turned around the game.

That did not mean Aikman had been wrong before the play, just that there would be more drama to capture.

Fox did a fine job of it, down to its shots of well-liked coach Andy Reid’s pure joy on the sideline as the clock wound down on his first Super Bowl victory as a head coach.

Mahomes was a picture of calm and maturity alongside Reid in a postgame interview with reporter Chris Myers, after which Aikman said, “He is now the face of our league, and rightfully so.”

Fox’s 4 1⁄2-hour pregame show did not break any new ground, but it had its moments.

Fox smartly kept things moving early with brief, light segments, including Alex Rodriguez playing catch with Dan Marino while each wore the other’s No. 13 jersey.

One early highlight was Patriots coach Bill Belichick being shown at retired tight end Rob Gronkowski’s Saturday night beach party. Belichick wore white shorts and flip-flops.

Former Giants star and Fox analyst Michael Strahan interviewed halftime performers Jennifer Lopez and Shakira, and Lopez spoke of growing up in the Bronx watching Jets games with her family every Sunday.

“You know, we haven’t won since I was born,” said Lopez, who was born six months after Super Bowl III.

Said Strahan: “You know I didn’t play for the Jets, right? I just want you to know.”

Said J-Lo: “I know that, baby.”

Fox then showed Lopez embracing Rodriguez, her fiance, upon arriving at the stadium and entering her trailer.

The honor of the last pregame interview went to Mahomes, last season’s NFL MVP, who talked to Erin Andrews.

Analyst Jimmy Johnson said Mahomes might be the most talented quarterback he’s ever seen. For 3 1⁄2 quarters in Super Bowl LIV, he did not look like it. Then, suddenly, he did.


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