Super Bowl 56: Storylines, Stingers, and Showmanship

Aaron Donald earns his ring in Super Bowl 56

Updated: Feb 14, 2022 9:00 pm

Super Bowl 56 featured a daring, young Bengals team heading to Los Angeles to take a Rams’ group of veterans who were looking for the first and potentially last shot at Super Bowl rings. But it was about so much more than that. The showmanship was unrivaled as The Rock kicked things off with one of the best hype intros ever seen in the NFL. The halftime show lived up to and exceeded expectations as Dre, Snoop, Eminem, Blige, Lamar, and surprise appearance 50 cent rocked a Halftime show for the ages.

The commercials were wacky and the celebrities were on full display, as Hollywood was on full display. The state-of-the-art, two-year-old SoFi stadium played host to this historic event. Two of the game’s elite talked retirement, including the best player on the planet. A significant other went into labor. Several of the game’s veteran superstars found their first. And one player capped off one of the greatest individual performances of all time as the MVP of Super Bowl 56.

It wasn’t all bells and whistles, however, as there was plenty that wasn’t perfect about the night. The referees had yet another subpar playoff performance. Injuries of all severity rattled players throughout the game. And though the game itself was good, It did not live up to the amazing quality of the previous 6 playoff matchups, leaving many to wonder if the two correct teams were playing in Super Bowl 56.

Let us now leave this vague synopsis behind and dive into the content that made Super Bowl 56 between the Bengals and the Rams what it was, starting with the game itself.

Super Bowl 56: Bengals vs Rams

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SoFi was electric as Evan McPherson booted the opening kickoff out of the back of the end zone, and the Rams offense took the field for the first time. The opening series exchange showed the defenses were ready for the matchup and then the Rams offense started to roll.

OBJ came out hot and ready to seize his first Super Bowl ring after being battered around in Cleveland the last few seasons. This was made clear when he caught a beautiful, 17-yard strike from Stafford to score the first touchdown of the game.

Soon after some brief heroics from Burrow and Chase took the Bengals down the field, but in the end, they had to settle for a field goal. The Rams saw this as an opportunity to make a statement. A huge catch and run from OBJ, and a touchdown strike to OPOY Cooper Kupp had the Rams on top with the only two-score lead of the game.

The Bengals saw that they were quickly down 13-3 and stopped the bleeding on their very next series. Cincy established Joe Mixon’s rushing attack and worked their way up the field with short passes. capping it off with a Mixon touchdown pass to Tee Higgins. Now they needed a stop, and they got it on the next series.

The Rams were busy driving the field, continuing to establish their offense as the force in charge of Super Bowl 56, when Stafford decided to take a shot downfield to Van Jefferson. The receiver was not able to establish a position on the defender, however, and Jesse Bates intercepted Stafford in the end zone. The Bengals now appeared to have all of the momenta.

Momentum is a tricky thing, however, as clearly illustrated by the end of that very play. A taunting penalty started the Cincy on their own 10, and a sack from Leonard Floyd ensured a punt from deep in their own territory was on the way. Thus, the Bengals failed to close out the first half with any real noise.

The same could not be said for the way they started the second half. On what was a highly controversial facemask no-call, Higgins turned Ramsey down with a 75-yard touchdown pass from Burrow. The Bengals weren’t finished there, as Chidobe Awuzie intercepted a pass on the first play of the very next series. The route appeared to be on for Cincy.

They used the Awuzie pick to set up McPherson’s second field goal, taking a 20-13 lead. It was now up to the Rams to do some damage control. And that they did.

Over the course of the next 4 plus minutes, LA ground their way up the field with a series of runs and short passes. In the end, a Matt Gay field goal cut the lead to 20-16.

Now it was time for the defenses to really be showcased. Both the Cincy and LA D’s locked it down, forcing punts on 7 consecutive series. Sacks from Ernest Jones, DJ Reeder, Aaron Donald, and Von Miller ended drives. Strong defensive play from Logan Wilson and Sam Hubbard helped to end others. A little over 6 minutes were now left in the game, and we could only wonder if we had seen the final score.

Then, the stars came out to shine in LA. Over the next 4 minutes and 48 seconds, Kupp put on a clinic. The Rams drove 72 yards over 19 plays. On that drive, Kupp hauled in 5 passes for 46 yards and what would be the game-winning touchdown. A few times on that drive he forced the Bengals into penalties in an attempt to prevent the knockout punch.

Yes, the closing moments of this drive were marked by penalties and poor officiating, especially that BS holding call on Wilson, however the poor officiating was equalized between the two teams throughout the game. The truth is that Kupp displayed dominance, cementing his historic season, and he willed his way into that end zone.

Now, all that was left was to make sure the Bengals didn’t even up the score with a field goal. It was Aaron Donald’s time to shine.

The Bengals drove the ball to midfield before Donald stepped up to do his damage, but the best football player in the world finally caught up with Cincy. On third and 1 he stuffed Perine, forcing the Bengals to put their dreams on the line on 4th down. In that play, Donald came charging straight in like a man on a mission. He was immediately on Burrow, spun him around, and forced the game-sealing incomplete pass. The big man came up huge in the largest moment of his career.

All that was left was for the Rams to take a knee and be crowned champions of Super Bowl 56.

The Rams stars showed bright late, as they came back and locked down a 23-20 victory over the Bengals.

The Storylines

Cooper Kupp’s Historic Season

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It has been no secret that Cooper Kupp took the NFL by storm this season. He was a Triple Crown winner at WR, leading the league in receptions, yards, and receiving touchdowns. He won the Offensive Player of the Year Award just nights before the Super Bowl. And now he can add a Super Bowl Ring and Super Bowl MVP award to his collection. All of these accolades are much deserved.

He was a unanimous All-Pro this season and voted into the Pro Bowl. He set a record for the most receptions in a postseason with 33. All total (through the season and playoffs) he hauled in 178 catches for 2425 yards and 22 touchdowns. This is the greatest season we have ever seen from a WR and one of the greatest single-season in NFL history. He deserves all of the praise he receives and more. Congratulations Cooper Kupp

Aaron Donald’s Storied Career

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Aaron Donald has been a force since he entered the league 8 years ago. Many call him the best defensive player in the game, while many more of us call him the best football player in the world. His place in history was cemented even before this playoff run. Some believe him to be the best defender who ever played the game, while most are at least willing to call him the greatest interior lineman ever. He continues to play at a dominating level, even at the age of 30.

This is why his pregame announcement that he might retire if he wins caught us all by surprise. No one (except opposing QBs) wants to see him leave, and most feel he has several years of dominance left. I for one know I had many mixed feelings when I heard this announcement, even went far enough to say I don’t want to see him win if this is true.

Time will tell if this is final, but the facts remain that he has finally added a Super Bowl Ring to his trophy case. Rather than speculate what comes next for him, let us take this moment to celebrate his greatness. 3-time Defensive Player of the Year, Defensive Rookie of the Year, 8-time Pro Bowl selection, 7-time All-Pro selection, and one last time, Super Bowl Champion.

Though I will hope that it’s not over, thank you Aaron Donald for a storybook career.

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Odell Beckham Jr and Matthew Stafford are finally Super Bowl Champions. Both have shaken off the shackles of their past and have overcome adversaries to make them into the championship-caliber players they became last night. Much respect to their teammates, families, friends, and fans who stuck with them through this time to see through their championship dreams to the end.

2022 Walter Payton Man of the Year, Andrew Whitworth, may not be sticking around for another season to earn to honor of the oldest player in the NFL. This 41-year-old tackle was the anchor of the Rams OL and a leader of the team on and off the field. He like so many others finally gets his first ring and has chosen to retire a champion. No one knows the specifics of his retirement yet, but we should learn more in the coming days.

And last but certainly not least, Van Jefferson rushed out of the stadium at the end of the game and headed straight to the hospital. Don’t worry, nothing was wrong, but rather something was very right. Earlier that night his wife was taken from the game to the hospital because she was in labor. By the time Van got there, his baby girl had arrived and he was a new Dad.

As someone who just had his second a little more than a month ago I can relate better than some, but clearly not as well as Van. To win a Super Bowl championship and then rush to the hospital to see your firstborn for the first time must have been absolutely priceless. On a day of finality, new life was born. Best wishes to the Jefferson family

The Stingers

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We’ve gone over the game and its amazing storylines, but it would be remiss if we just swept the garbage under the carpet. And the truth is that this game has plenty of negative storylines too.

The biggest of these is that OBJ appears to have torn his ACL on a non-contact injury he suffered just before halftime. Players have petitioned the league time and time again to eliminate turf, and this will add even more fuel to the fire. The NFL really needs to take these concerns to heart, so that more Super Bowls and games in the future aren’t impacted by the loss of huge star talent.

Burrow was another star player who was hurt by the turf in this game, but that is hardly the fault of just the field. The Bengals OL proved yet again that they cannot keep their star QB upright allowing 7 sacks in the game.

Coach of the year candidate also did little to help Burrow and the Bengals offense, with atrocious play-calling on the final series of the game. Why wasn’t Mixon on the field? And why the hack is Samaje Perrine receiving a handoff on their most important 3rd and 1 of the season. The truth is that the coaching and OL might have cost the rest of the Bengals their first ring.

Taylor’s calls, however, were not even the worst calls of the game. That horrendous missed face mask that gave the Bengals to lead after halftime would have lived in infamy if Cincy won by a score or less. And that wasn’t even the worst of it. How are you going to call no false starts or offsides for the whole game and then start with 2 minutes left in it? What the heck was that multiple turnover sequence which led to Kupp’s game-winning TD. There needs to be more accountability for the referees. The NFL needs to fix this.

The Showmanship

Opening hype speech from The Rock

Halftime Show featuring Dre, Snoop, Em, Blige, Lamar, and 50

My favorite commercial

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