2022 Super Bowl LVI lived up to the hype

Super+Bowl+Credit

All Pro Reels | Wikimedia Commons

Maya Demchak-Gottlieb, Copy Editor

This year’s Super Bowl had the potential to be a great game and did not disappoint.

With a narrow 23-20 comeback victory over the Cincinnati Bengals at SoFi Stadium, the Los Angeles Rams became the second NFL team to win the Super Bowl at their home stadium. Rams’ head coach Sean McVay is now the youngest coach to win a Super Bowl.

In a season where no team was favored to be in the Super Bowl, or even make the playoffs, both the Rams and Bengals won upset games to advance. The Bengals had an overtime victory over the Kansas City Chiefs and the Rams had a thrilling triumph over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

In the Super Bowl, there were two crucial instances where penalties shaped the outcome of the game.

During the game winning drive for the Rams, the officials called a “tickytack” holding call on Bengals linebacker Logan Wilson, giving the Rams a fresh set of downs from the 4-yard line. After two more plays — both involving penalties called on the Bengals, and one offsetting call on the Rams, — LA scored the game-winning touchdown.

While many fans remember the final questionable penalty call, there was an equally important non-call on the Bengal’s first touchdown of the game when Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey was thrown to the ground by his facemask by Bengals’ wide receiver Tee Higgins, who scored a 75yard touchdown in the same play to give the Bengals a lead.

Throughout the game, there were three heart stopping moments, all from what seemed like injuries.

Rams’ quarterback, Matthew Stafford, appeared to have injured his ankle after being sacked by Bengals’ defensive tackle D.J. Reader in the third quarter but returned for the next offensive drive.

During the fourth quarter, Bengals’ quarterback Joe Burrow appeared to have injured his right knee after he was sacked by Rams’ linebacker Von Miller but also remained in the game. Burrow previously had an injured left knee last season.

Star wide receiver for the Rams, Odell Beckham Jr., suffered an injury to his left knee on a noncontact play in the second quarter and was ruled out early in the third quarter. Before his injury, Beckham scored the first touchdown of the game on a 17-yard pass from Matthew Stafford early in the first quarter.

Rams’ wide receiver Cooper Kupp, offensive player of the year and Super Bowl MVP, scored the other two Rams’ touchdowns of the game and ended the night with 92 yards.

Kupp’s pivotal performance throughout the season, in addition to the crucial touchdown that secured the Rams’ Super Bowl victory, further ignited the argument that he should have won the season MVP instead of Green Bay Packers’ quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Many have criticized the award for a perceived quarterback bias after Rodgers won the MVP.

To take the lead, Stafford led the team on a 15-play, 79-yard drive that culminated in a phenomenal one-yard, no-look, touchdown pass to Kupp that eventually decided the game. He finished the game with 26-of-40 passing completions and three touchdowns, in addition to two picks.

With 95 career NFL losses, the most losses in NFL history among quarterbacks when winning their first Super Bowl championship, Stafford’s first Super Bowl victory was truly hard won.

Joe Burrow ended the game 22-33, with one TD and no interceptions.

Bengals’ wide receiver Higgins scored both Bengals’ touchdowns, the first being a trick play, and had a total of 100 yards.

The Rams’ defense, and the Bengals notoriously faulty offensive-line, factored heavily in the game as Burrow was sacked seven times.

On the last play of the Bengal’s final drive on 4th down with time expiring, Rams’ defensive tackle Aaron Donald was involved in the game-ending play on quarterback Burrow to end the Bengals’ season. He pointed to his ring finger after the play, signaling that he knew he had earned his Super Bowl ring.

Two of the Rams’ touchdowns were the results of matchups against Bengals’ cornerback Eli Apple. Throughout the season and leading up to the Super Bowl, Apple attacked specific players and teams like the New York Giants, New Orleans Saints and Baltimore Ravens, entire cities and fanbases.

His history of arrogance and aggression on social media caused NFL players and fans to express their ire after the conclusion of the game.

The Rams converted 6-15 on third down and 1-1 on fourth down, while the Bengals converted 314 on third down and 1-3 on fourth down.

The Bengals dominated the run-game with 79 rushing yards, four yards per rush compared to the Rams’ 43 yards and 1.9 yards per rush.

Fans of both teams questioned the play calling with many Bengals fans believing the Bengals should have relied on the run-game sooner while  they were still leading.

Ahead of the game, the Rams were fourpoint favorites. The clash between the Bengals and Rams was highly anticipated and the game averaged a total audience of 112.3 million viewers, ranking it as the most-watched show in five years.

As football fans look forward  to the next season, the Bengals, who drew attention for their sudden organizational turn-around , will likely again be a strong team.

The Rams, whose strategy was to build their team for a 2022 Super Bowl victory, will try to maintain championship contention.