This Week in the NFL: Super Bowl LVI


AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill

Los Angeles Rams offensive lineman Andrew Whitworth holds up the Vince Lombardi trophy while celebrating his team’s win over the Cincinnati Bengals. Whitworth is also this year’s NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year… this award is given to a player who’s off-the-field actions have impacted members of the community.

The grand finale of the 2021-22 NFL season was last Sunday. The game was played at SoFi stadium in Los Angeles, California. The Cincinnati Bengals faced off against the Los Angeles Rams, who played at their own home stadium. This was the hottest Super Bowl on record, as a heatwave was rolling through Los Angeles, with temperatures on Super Bowl Sunday reaching the nineties. 

The first half of the game was quite anticlimactic. One stand-out moment was when Bengals player Vernon Hargreaves III, who was injured for the game, ran out onto the field to celebrate with his teammates after defender Jesse Bates III caught an interception. However, anyone coming off of the sidelines and onto the field during the game is considered an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, so while the Bengals still got to get possession of the ball because the penalty occurred after the play, they were backed up fifteen yards. Also in the first half, Rams wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. went down with a knee injury and had to leave the game. He could be seen on the sidelines in tears after not being able to go back into the game. It’s been discovered that he tore his ACL, the same one that he tore last season which kept him from returning until partway through this season. 

At halftime, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, and Mary J. Blige, among others, put on a performance. There were mixed feelings about the performance… some loved it, some hated it. 

On the very first play of the third quarter, the Bengals scored a touchdown on a seventy-five-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Joe Burrow to receiver Tee Higgins. However, there was some controversy with this play. Higgins grabbed Rams defender Jalen Ramsey by the facemask and sent him to the ground before catching the pass, which should’ve been an offensive pass interference, which was missed by the referees. 

The fourth quarter was where things truly ramped up. First of all, the players for both teams began to get a bit hot-tempered, and there was much pushing and shoving, and things began to get heated through the entirety of the quarter. Both quarterbacks, Matthew Stafford for the Rams, and Joe Burrow for the Bengals, got shaken up in similar ways. Their legs were twisted by heavy defenders, causing an ankle injury for Stafford, and a knee injury for Burrow. Luckily, both of them ended up being fine, just needing to walk off the injuries. 

In the final two minutes, the Rams were in a four-point deficit. This means that they needed a touchdown since a field goal is only worth three points. After driving down the field, the game-winning touchdown pass was sent to receiver Cooper Kupp. 

After a successful extra point kick, putting the Rams ahead 23-20, the Bengals received possession of the ball with around a minute and a half until the end of the game. They got to around midfield, before turning over on downs, because they went for the first down on fourth down, instead of punting, since they had to in order to have a chance at winning. On that fourth down play that was going to decide the game, Rams defender Aaron Donald took down Joe Burrow, who blindly threw the ball away as he was going down. The pass was incomplete with thirty-nine seconds left in the game, meaning that the Rams had won, with the final score being 23-20. 

While the confetti was flying, and all of the players were celebrating this once-in-a-lifetime experience, Rams receiver Van Jefferson was rushing out of the stadium. During the game, his wife went into labor and delivered his son at around midnight. 

Meanwhile at SoFi, the Rams were receiving the Lombardi trophy. It was the second year in a row that a team has won the Super Bowl while playing in their home stadium, with the previous year having the Tampa Bay Buccaneers winning Super Bowl LV on their own field. Rams head coach Sean McVay is the youngest head coach to win a Super Bowl, being just thirty-six. Along with that, it was Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford’s first time winning a Super Bowl, and first time winning a playoff game. He spent the first twelve years of his career on the Detroit Lions, who consistently fall short in the playoffs. Even as a talented quarterback, it was challenging to win games there, but he finally got his opportunity with the Rams.. By complete fate, he and his wife were staying at the same hotel in Mexico as Sean McVay during the offseason. They talked together, and eventually, he wound up on the team. Finally, the Super Bowl MVP was announced, and it just so happened that it was Cooper Kupp, the player who scored the game-winning touchdown, who received the award. 

 Overall, this year’s Super Bowl was a great way to end the 2021-22 NFL season. The game was a nail-biter for both teams the entirety of the game. Despite the fact that the Bengals lost, it’ll be far from their last time at the Super Bowl. Who knows? Maybe we’ll even see a Super Bowl rematch in future years! 


Kristina Klauzinski ‘24, Staff Writer