Super Bowl LVI (56) Recap

Super Bowl LVI (56) Recap

The 2021 National Football League season is in the history books. The postseason featured some of the best playoff games in NFL history. Nine teams changed head coaches as the carousel spun wild. The Pro Bowl featured the usual tomfoolery. Now it was time for the king of all sports to crown its champion. Super Bowl LVI (56) concluded one of the best professional football seasons ever. 

Super Bowl LVI took place at Sofi Stadium in Los Angeles. The AFC’s Cincinnati Bengals took on the NFC’s Los Angeles Rams   

The Bengals had never won the Super Bowl. They reached the Super Bowl in 1981 and 1988. Both times they were defeated by the San Francisco 49ers. They won a playoff game in 1990 and then went 31 years until winning their next playoff game. The Rams have won the Super Bowl, but the Los Angeles Rams never have.

The Bengals won the AFC North and won three playoff games in cardiac fashion. The AFC Title Game was a comeback for the ages. The Chiefs led 21-3, but the Bengals made a valiant comeback and forced overtime. One week earlier the Chiefs won the overtime coin toss and never gave the ball up. They won the coin toss again but this time Mahomes was intercepted. McPherson came through again for the 27-24 victory to send the Bengals to the Super Bowl. The 49ers had swept the Rams during the regular season and led 17-7 in the fourth quarter of the NFC Title Game before the Rams defense took over. Aaron Donald battered Jimmy Garoppolo into an interception that preserved the 20-17 Rams victory. 

The fortunes of the long-suffering Bengals changed at the 2020 NFL Draft. With the top overall pick, the Bengals selected quarterback Joe Burrow out of Louisiana State University. Burrow had just won a national championship with LSU. He was seeking to become the first ever top overall Draft pick to win a Super Bowl in his second season. In the 2021 offseason, Rams coach Sean McVay made a blockbuster trade with the Detroit Lions. The Lions got Jared Goff and the Rams got quarterback Matthew Stafford. Stafford was considered the last piece of the puzzle as the Rams became a trendy pre-season Super Bowl favorite.

Since the halftime show, commercials and cheerleaders have nothing to do with football, they will be completely ignored. They happened. Now back to the football game itself. The Rams got the ball first, picked up one first down, and then a sack of Stafford ended the drive. The Bengals began with excellent field position and faced 2nd and 2 from midfield. Joe Mixon only gained one yard and Perine then got stopped. Zac Taylor gambled on 4th and 1 from just past midfield. Burrow had his pass knocked away incomplete. The Rams soon faced 3rd and 4 from the Cincinnati 44. Stafford went to Cooper Kupp for 20. Stafford then threw a perfect fade pass to O’Dell Beckham, who made a great catch in the end zone for a 17 yard touchdown and a 7-0 Rams lead. 

Late in the first quarter the Bengals took over at their own 30. Mixon ran for a 13 yard gain. Burrow then went bombs away to JaMarr Chase, who made a leaping one-handed grab for a 46 yard gain. On 3rd and 10 from the Rams 11, Burrow fired to the end zone to a well covered Tee Higgins. The bay ricocheted off of Higgins’s chest and was then nearly intercepted before falling incomplete. The defense was solid but Higgins still had a chance for the touchdown. Instead Evan McPherson hit a 29 yard field goal to get the Bengals within 7-3. 

The Rams soon faced 3rd and 11 from their own 24 to start the second quarter. Stafford connected again with Beckham for a 35 yard gain. Stafford then went to Darrell Henderson for 25 more. Stafford then executed a perfect play action, rolled to his right, and fired in the corner of the end zone for an 11 yard touchdown. The holder fumbled the snap on the extra point, and an attempt at a throw failed as the Rams led 13-3. 

After a touchback, Burrowhit Boyd for 11 and Chase for 10. Mixon ran for 14 and 4. On 3rd and 6 from the Rams 33, Burrow hit Higgins for 14. On 3rd and 2 from the Rams 11, Chase took a sideways swing pass and snuck ahead for 4 yards. Zac Taylor then went to the bag of tricks. Burrow lateraled to Mixon, who threw the halfback option pass to Huggins for the touchdown. The 12 play, 75 yard, 7 minute drive got the Bengals within 13-10.

After a touchback, Cam Akers ran for 6 and Stafford hit Van Jefferson for 13. With the Rams facing 2nd and 9 from their own 45, Stafford threw incomplete to Beckham, who went down in pain without being touched. On 3rd and 9, Stafford hit Hopkins for 16. On 3rd and 14 from the Cincinnati 43, Stafford went bombs away to the end zone and was intercepted for a touchback. The Rams got it back and faced 3rd and 1 from midfield with 18 seconds left. Stafford threw deep incomplete. Both quarterbacks went 12 of 18 in the first half. The second half started with a bang.

After a touchback to start the third quarter, Burrow went bombs away to Higgins for a 75 yard touchdown. Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey fell down and replay showed that Higgins got away with an offensive facemask. An angry Ramsey protested to on avail as the Bengals had their first lead of the game 17-13 only 12 seconds into the third quarter. The Rams took over at their own 17 and immediately melted. Stafford fired over the middle to Skowronek. The ball bounced right off of Skowronek’s hands and was intercepted by Awuzie. The Bengals took over at the Rams 31. On 4th and 1 from the Rams 22, Zac Taylor again decided to go for it rather than kick the easy field goal. Burrow took the quarterback draw up the middle for 4 yards. On 3rd and 3 from the Rams 11, Stafford was sacked. McPherson hit again from 38 as the Bengals led 20-13.

The Rams soon faced 3rd and 8 from their own 27. Stafford hit Henderson for 15, Kupp for 13 and Hopkins for 16. On 3rd and 5 from the Cincinnati 23, Sea McVay went to the bag of tricks and tried the Philly special. A double lateral led Kupp try to throw to a wide open Stafford. The ball was high overthrown incomplete. Matt Gay hit the 41 yard field goal to get the Rams within 20-16. Consecutive sacks on Burrow for a total of 6 sacks in the first three quarters gave the Rams the ball back just shy of midfield to start the fourth quarter. Yet on 3rd and 7, Stafford threw deep incomplete as the Rams again squandered excellent field position. 

The Bengals faced 3rd and 9 from their own 34. Burrow was sacked for the 7th time and was writhing in pain on the ground and clutching his leg. An offensive personal foul on the play had the Bengals punting on 4th and 29. A few plays earlier Stafford went off limping, and a close Super Bowl in the fourth quarter could hinge on if either quarterback could not finish. The Rams took over at their own 35. On 3rd and 4, Stafford had an open receiver in the flat but threw high and incomplete. The Bengals took over at their own 15. The Rams had a good drive going but on 3rd and 9 from their own 40, a simple pass was dropped. The Rams took over at their own 21 with 6:13 left in regulation. 

On 2nd and 1 from their own 30, Stafford threw incomplete. On 3rd and 1, a run got stopped cold. With 5 minutes still to play, the obvious decision was to punt and trust the defense. Instead Sean McVay grabbed his balls of steel and risked the entire game. On 4th and 1 from his own 30 with the running game getting stopped all game, McVay called a lateral run. Kupp gained 7 yards. On 3rd and 2 from their own 45, Stafford hit Hopkins for 6. Stafford then hit Kupp over the middle for 22 and again for 8 more. Out of the shotgun, Akers took a handoff for 8 more. With 1:55 to play in the Super Bowl, the Rams had 1st and goal at the 8. Stafford had a wide open receiver but overthrew him high out of the back of the end zone incomplete. Another throw low into the dirt set up 3rd and goal. 

Stafford’s pass was broken up incomplete, but a game with very few penalties saw defensive holding. On 1st and goal at the 4, Stafford rolled out and fired to Kupp between 2 defenders. Kupp caught the ball for the touchdown and then got blasted as more flags came down. There was a defensive personal foul, but there was also offensive holding. Offsetting penalties meant a do-over as the touchdown came off the board. Then came another incompletion but another defensive pass interference call in the end zone meant 1st and goal at the one. Stafford got stopped on the quarterback sneak as the Bengals took their first timeout on defense. On 2nd and goal from the one with everyone expecting run, Stafford to Kupp in the end zone near the sideline. The back shoulder throw was perfect, and this time  the touchdown stood. The 15 play, 79, nearly 5 minute drive gave the Rams the 23-20 lead with 1:25 left. 

After a touchback, Burrow had his chance to be the hero with 2 timeouts. Burrow quickly went to Chase for 17 and Boyd for 9. On 2nd and 1 just past midfield, Burrow threw deep incomplete. On 3rd and 1 Perine got stopped cold by Aaron Donald. The Bengals took their second timeout with 43 seconds left. Everything came down to 4th and 1. Rather than go smashmouth, Burrow was in the shotgun, Donald came in and was about to give the Rams a Super record 8 sacks. Even as Burrow was being spun around, he somehow was strong enough to shot-put a desperation pass that fell incomplete. The Rams defense had done it again. 

Sean McVay, Aaron Donald and Matthew Stafford finally had a Super Bowl ring. Andrew Whitworth, who spent 11 seasons with the Bengals, finally won his first Super Bowl in his 15th season. Donald was the Super Bowl MVP. McVay became the youngest coach to ever win the Super Bowl. O’Dell Beckham and Tyler Higbee were both injured in the game, but they were Super Bowl champions as well. Von Miller Although Donald had a strong case for MVP, it went to Kupp, who caught 2 touchdown passes. The Rams as an organization won their second Super Bowl, but their 1999 win was in St. Louis. This was the first Super Bowl win for the Los Angeles Rams. The Bengals for the third time lost the Super Bowl by 5 points or less, and are still chasing their first Super Bowl win. The 2021 NFL season is now in the history books. 23-20 Rams

Three months until the 2022 NFL Draft. 



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