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A group of friends gather to watch Super Bowl LVI

A Super Bowl No One Could Have Predicted

Every year, there seems to be clear-cut favorites as to who will get their shot at becoming a Super Bowl champion. No one could have predicted what would happen with the NFL this year. Fans were left to see the Los Angeles Rams face the Cinncinati Bengals in Super Bowl LVI.


There are many different stories to follow from each team, such as Matthew Stafford going to a Super Bowl in his first season away from the Detroit Lions. Or the rookie receiver Ja’maar Chase and second-year quarterback Joe Burrow leading the Bengals to the spot they’re currently in. With every storyline that has come this far and all the drama surrounding both teams, only one got to hoist the Lombardi Trophy on February 13, 2022.


It’s important to understand both teams’ paths to get here. Throughout the entire season, the Rams acquired superstar after superstar in various ways. It began with a trade they made for Denver Broncos’ edge rusher Von Miller who is an eight-time pro bowler, three-time first-team All-Pro, four-time second-team All-Pro, and Super Bowl 50 L MVP. Exactly 10 days later, they sign former Cleveland Browns’ receiver Odell Beckham Jr. after he and his dad took to social media to share how they felt about Browns’ quarterback Baker Mayfield. This resulted in him being released from the Browns and the Rams were there to take him in and add to their already superstar-filled team.


The Bengals took a different approach to make it here, as they haven’t done much of anything throughout the regular season other than win games. Rookie wide receiver Ja’maar Chase is having one of the most memorable rookie seasons in recent history, with 1,455 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns through the regular season and postseason. However, he wouldn’t have been able to do this without the clutch performance of Joe Burrow. Burrow blew up on social media after he took down the Chiefs to clinch the NFC North toward the end of the regular season. From there on out, he has continued to dominate and become even more of an icon on social media, as fans have given him the nickname “Joe Shiesty.” En route to the Super Bowl, he took down the sixth-seeded Las Vegas Raiders, one-seeded Tennesse Titans, and the second-seeded Kansas City Cheifs. He was able to keep composure against a stacked AFC Division and get his team as close to the promise land as they have ever been since they lost in the Super Bowl in 1988 to the San Fransico 49ers. 


The first quarter was a defensive bout, as both defenses prevailed. The Rams put up seven points through the quarter as opposed to the Bengals three. Storied wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. scored the opening touchdown in the corner of the endzone. However, that would be all he did throughout the game because he suffered a knee injury that sidelined him for the rest of the game. His story was highlighted the most coming into this game and in the time he played, he posted two receptions for 52 yards and the opening touchdown. 


After Beckham Jr.’s early exit, the Rams began to slow down tremendously, as they went into halftime only up three points after getting nothing done once Beckham Jr. left the game. Tee Higgins posted the Bengals’ only first-half touchdown. The first-half score was 13-10 and both teams had struggled on offense. Rams’ quarterback Matthew Stafford posted an interception while the Bengals racked up good yardage, but failed to convert their opportunities into points. Although a highlight and momentum swing was when running back Joe Mixon threw a touchdown pass to receiver Tee Higgins in what looked like a mastermind trick play call from Bengals’ coach Zac Taylor. 


As the second half progressed, viewers saw how vital Beckham Jr. was to this offense, as they continued to struggle down the stretch. Being without Beckham Jr., tight end Tyler Higbee, and losing star receiver Robert Woods early in the season, they were in for a tough challenge against a well-rounded Bengals defense.


The Bengals capitalized on the Rams’ struggles, as they pulled ahead in the third quarter and maintained that lead through a little over 13 minutes through the fourth quarter. This all came to an end when Matthew Stafford threw a no-look pass to set the Rams up in the red zone with a chance to take the lead. In what was a controversial go-ahead drive, Cooper Kupp had a 1-yard touchdown reception that would put them up three points after the extra point. There were various different penalties on both teams throughout the drive, however, the penalties ultimately gave the Rams multiple extra opportunities to obtain the lead, which they ended up doing. 


The Bengals would receive the football with a little under two minutes and a chance to finish their season in a place no one expected them to be. They began the drive with a big 17-yard pickup on a pass to Tee Higgins followed by a nine-yard gain on a pass to Tyler Boyd. With the ball near midfield, they failed to convert a first down on three straight plays, leaving them in a fourth-and-one with the season on the line. In a play where the pocket collapsed, Aaron Donald was able to get heavy pressure on Joe Burrow, forcing him to make a bad throw and sealing the Super Bowl win for the Rams.


In the longest season in NFL history, fans were able to watch a thriller for the final game, which was the cherry on top of one of the most unpredictable seasons in recent history. The Rams Super Bowl victory will earn them the last pick of the first round in the upcoming NFL draft, which is considered the beginning of the NFL season for many. As teams go into the offseason, there are many stories to follow and the NFL could look completely different next year. No one player is guaranteed to be on their respective team going into the 2022-2023 season.