The long-awaited game was finally here; the Super Bowl. Super Bowl 56 would be played on Sunday, February 13th between the Los Angeles Rams and the Cincinnati Bengals. The game took place in Sofi Stadium in Inglewood, California, which is the home stadium for the Rams, meaning the fan bias in the stadium would be heavily leaning towards the Rams. Nonetheless, the game was bound to be a thriller.
The show opened with the National Anthem being sung by country star Mickey Guyton, followed by the coin toss. Matthew Stafford was the lone Ram doing the coin toss, while the Bengals sent up QB Joe Burrow, Punter Kevin Huber, RB Joe Mixon, and Safety Vonn Bell. Stafford and the Rams were the designated away team (even though they were in their home stadium), so they got to call the toss. Stafford called tails, but the coin landed on heads. With that, the Bengals deferred, meaning the Rams would get the opening kickoff.
The first quarter began with the Rams having the ball at the 25-yard line. The opening play was a handoff to Cam Akers, who recently returned from a torn Achilles, however, the play only went for 5 yards. The rest of the drive was stagnant for the Rams offense, and the Bengals defense was able to stop any run attempt from L.A. The Bengals would get the ball after the punt, and started their drive nicely. However, on 4th and 1 from midfield, Runningback Samaje Perine was stuffed for a loss by DT A’shawn Robinson, resulting in the Rams getting the ball back. Now with momentum, the Rams stormed downfield. From 17 yards out, Matthew Stafford threw a shot for the endzone, which would be caught by Odell Beckham Jr. for a touchdown. Beckham was a major story coming into the game, as this would be his first Super Bowl appearance of his storied career. Nonetheless, the Rams took an early 7-0 lead. The Bengals were unable to get any consistent offense going throughout the opening quarter. Although they had some big plays, like an unbelievable one-handed catch by Jamaar Chase, they were unable to score. As for the Rams, they were unable to do much on offense after the touchdown as well. This was in part to Odell Beckham Jr. suffering a non-contact injury, which would later be revealed to be a torn ACL. After this, the Bengals were able to drive downfield, setting up Evan McPherson with a 29-yard field goal. The first quarter would end with a score of 7-3.
The Rams would answer back on offense fairly quickly. A 25-yard catch and run by Darrell Henderson would get the Rams into the red zone. From the 11-yard line, Matthew Staford would roll out and find the Offensive Player of the Year Cooper Kupp in the back of the endzone for a touchdown. On the ensuing kickoff, Johnny Hekker would drop the snap and be forced to pass. He would end up throwing an interception to Germain Pratt, who would be tackled after a small return. This would make the score 13-3. Now on offense, the Bengals needed to go downfield and score to make sure the Rams wouldn’t run away with the game. Joe Burrow was able to put together a string of modest gains, with Jamaar Chase and Tyler Boyd being on the receiving end. Joe Mixon also did his part in maintaining a productive drive, as he had a 14-yard run early in the drive. On the 12th play of the drive, the Bengals would shock everyone with a trick play. Joe Burrow pitched the ball back to Joe Mixon, making the defense think it was a run. Since it was a backward pass behind the line of scrimmage, Mixon was an eligible thrower. With that, Mixon threw the ball to the back of the endzone to Tee Higgens for a Cincinnati touchdown. The Rams would get the ball back next, but their drive was halted by a defensive masterclass. Matthew Stafford would launch a deep ball to the endzone but would be packed off by former Pro Bowl safety Jessie Bates. After this, each team would get no offensive production, ending the half with a score of 13-10.
The Pepsi Halftime Show would be headlined by Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre, Eminem, Kendrick Lamar, and Mary J. Beige. The show would be filled with nostalgic songs, dancing, fireworks, and a special appearance from 50 Cent. It has been dubbed as one of the greatest halftime shows ever, and it’s hard to disagree.
The third quarter was underway with the Bengals receiving the ball. In a complete turn of events, Joe Burrow would unleash a deep ball for Tee Higgens. Higgens was being guarded by Jalen Ramsey on the play, who is widely regarded as one of the best cornerbacks the NFL has seen in decades. However, Higgens was able to use all of his 6’4 frame to catch the ball over Ramsey and run the ball in for a 75-yard opening play touchdown. The play would be smothered with controversy on social media, as instant replay would show Higgens grabbing the facemask of Ramsey before the ball was caught. It was tough for the referees to see, as both [layers had their heads turned towards the ball. If it was called, the play would have resulted in a 15-yard offensive pass interference, and the touchdown would not count. However, it wasn’t called, and the touchdown stood. This gave the Bengals their first lead of the game, going up 17-13. As if it couldn’t get worse for Los Angeles, on the very first play of their drive, Matthew Stafford would throw a short pass to Ben Skowronek, who dropped it. The tipped pass would be intercepted by Chidobe Awuzie, and the Bengals would get the ball right back. Joe Burrow would be sacked on the ensuing drive by Aaron Donald. Burrow would suffer an injury on the play but continued to play through it. On the next play, Burrow would check the ball down to Jamarr Chase, who made another incredible one-handed catch and ran the ball an extra 10 yards. After this, the Rams defense held strong, forcing the Bengals to kick another field goal. This would extend the Cincinnati lead, with the score being 20-13. The Rams now had the ball and needed to score. They were able to limit their mistakes on the drive and drove downfield in 10 plays, The drive would be capped off with a Matt Gay 41 yard field goal, making the score 20-16. This would be the score and the end of the third quarter.
It was now time for the fourth quarter. The Bengals were up 4 and were 15 minutes away from the first Super Bowl win. As intense as the game was to this point, the next few drives for both teams were stagnant. The next seven drives of the game all ended in punts. With about five minutes left in the game, the Rams had the ball with a chance to win the game. Matthew Stafford forced the ball to Cooper Kupp on just about every throw of the drive, but it worked. Kupp was a master of his craft, and he was able to lead the Rams down into the Bengals’ 5-yard line. After a couple of bad plays, it came down to 3rd and goal. Stafford would throw a short pass to Cooper Kupp, which would be batted down by Logan Wilson. However, the referees would call a defensive holding on Wilson, resetting the downs. On the next play, Stafford would throw a short out route to Cooper Kupp, which would sail out of bounds. This time, the referees called defensive pass interference on Eli Apple, giving the Rams another chance, this time at the 1-yard line. The Rams would call a Stafford QB sneak up the middle on 1st and goal but to no avail. Now, on 2nd and goal, Stafford would throw a back-shoulder fade to Cooper Kupp in the endzone. Kupp would haul it in right over Eli Apple, scoring the touchdown. With 1 one minute left in the game, the Rams would take a 23-20 lead. Now, Joe Burrow and the Bengals would get the ball with one minute left, and a chance to make history. On the opening play, Burrow would hit Jamaar Chase for a 17-yard catch and run. The next three plays would lead the Bengals to 9 total yards. Now, it was 4th and 1, and the Bengals needed to get yards here, or the game was over. Burrow would get the ball in the shotgun, and get pressure instantly. The 7-time All-Pro Aaron Donald would wrap Burrow up, and swing him to the ground. Burrow was miraculously able to get the ball out, but the pass came up short from the hands of Samaje Perine. This meant the game was over, and the Los Angeles Rams were the 2021-2022 Super Bowl Champions.
This was the first championship in the careers of Aaron Donald, Matthew Stafford, Odell Beckham Jr, and many more. Cooper Kupp would come away with the Super Bowl MVP to end his sensational season. The young Bengals squad would be sent home packing but will be seeking revenge in the coming years. With that, this would mark the end of a spectacular season of football.