Super Bowl LVI Recap: Rams defeat Bengals 23-20

1/14/22 by Ava Salti

The highly-anticipated Super Bowl matchup between the Los Angeles Rams and the Cincinnati Bengals certainly lived up to the hype. The game was a back-and-forth affair that ended with the Rams hoisting the Lombardi Trophy.

Photo courtesy of MGN

The Rams got out to an early lead after Stafford hit mid-season acquisition and star wide receiver, Odell Beckham Jr., for a 17-yard touchdown. The Bengals answered back by putting up their first points of the night: a 29-yard Even McPherson field goal. The Rams added to their 7-3 lead, though, after wide receiver Cooper Kupp hauled in the first of his two touchdowns of the night. The Rams would not complete the extra point on the play. Later in the second quarter, quarterback Joe Burrow drove the Bengals down to the six-yard line, where they pulled out a trick play to score: a completed pass from running back Joe Mixon to wide receiver Tee Higgins. The score going into halftime was 13-10.

On the very first play of the second half, Joe Burrow would hit Tee Higgins for a touchdown, this one being a massive 75-yard completion. Higgins lost cornerback Jalen Ramsey on the play by arguably getting away with a facemask. After a quick Stafford interception, the Bengals would immediately get the ball back and extend their lead to 20-13 after a 38-yard McPherson field goal. The Rams inched closer by the end of the third quarter with a Matt Gay 41-yard field goal to back the score 20-16 heading into the fourth quarter. 

In the fourth quarter, the Rams defense shined and Cooper Kupp showed why he was the best wide receiver in the NFL this season. Without OBJ, who left the game with a knee injury in the second quarter, the only real target Stafford had was Kupp. Even with the Bengals’ defense aware of this, they still could not stop him. With less than 90 seconds in the game, Stafford hit Kupp on a one-yard touchdown pass that would prove to be the game-winner. Burrow tried to prove his own heroics for the Bengals, but on fourth and one, Aaron Donald broke through the offensive line and busted the play, helping the Rams clinch their first Super Bowl victory, 23-20.

Stafford finished 26-40 with 283 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. Burrow finished 22-33 with 263 yards and one touchdown. The Super Bowl MVP was Cooper Kupp, who had eight receptions for 92 yards and two touchdowns. That might have capped off the greatest season ever for a wide receiver, as Kupp won the receiving triple crown (catches, yards, touchdowns) and NFL Offensive Player of the Year. 

Coach Sean McVay, 36, becomes the youngest head coach to win a Super Bowl. Longtime NFL stars Stafford, Donald and Beckham Jr. all receive their first Super Bowl rings with the victory as well.