Super Bowl LVI was quite a show, certainly living up to the glitz and glamor of the setting at Los Angeles’ SoFi Stadium.
Someone had to come out on top in the intense, back-and-forth affair, and in the end, it was the Los Angeles Rams who held aloft the Lombardi Trophy after a 23-20 victory.
It was the Rams’ second Super Bowl title and first since Kurt Warner led a 23-16 victory over Tennessee in 2000. The franchise also won two NFL championships prior to the Super Bowl era.
Here are the top plays and highlights from Super Bowl LVI.
Los Angeles Rams 23, Cincinnati Bengals 20
dressed for success
Stars from both teams stepped out ahead of pregame warmups in their best fits.
But the players weren’t the only stars in the building on Sunday.
Things were feeling intense during the final moments before kickoff.
Here we go!
The Bengals won the coin toss and deferred. The last time a team won the Super Bowl after winning the coin toss was in 2014 (Seattle Seahawks).
The Rams struggled on their opening possession, punting the ball away after five short plays.
But it didn’t take long for LA to get its momentum going. First, the Rams’ defense came up with a huge fourth-down stop to force the Bengals to punt. Then, Offensive Player of the Year, Cooper Kupp, gave the Rams a much-needed spark.
The big gain set up the first score of the night from Odell Beckham Jr., who put the Rams on the board first with this leaping 17-yard TD — his first catch of the game.
With his seventh touchdown as a Ram, OBJ now has as many receiving touchdowns with LA (12 games) as he did during his time with the Cleveland Browns (29 games).
Just like that, LA took a 7-0 lead midway through the first.
Ja’Marr Chase proved why he’s deserving of his newly minted Offensive Rookie of the Year title with this jaw-dropping 46-yard reception that put the Bengals on the Ram’s 11-yard line.
Cincinnati wasn’t able to capitalize on the big gain, however, and the Bengals settled for a field goal after Burrow threw three incomplete straight passes. It was a four-point game heading to the second quarter.
It was more of the same from the Rams in the second. OBJ came up with another huge play early in the frame, this time a 35-yard pickup to put LA in enemy territory.
Then, Stafford connected with Kupp in the corner of the end zone for an 11-yard TD and a 13-3 lead.
Kupp now has 21 receiving TDs this season (regular season and playoffs). He joins Jerry Rice (1987, 1989) and Randy Moss (2007) as the only players to have 20-plus receiving TDs in a season, including the playoffs.
At this point, Stafford was nearly perfect, completing 9 of 10 passes for 127 yards and two touchdowns.
mixin’ it up
The Bengals made it a three-point game when running back Joe Mixon tossed this short TD to a waiting Tee Higgins.
It’s the first pass Mixon has thrown since college at Oklahoma. That one also went for a touchdown.
It was also the first TD pass by a running back since 1980, when Lawrence McCutcheon hit one against the Steelers in Super Bowl XIV.
With the Rams driving late in the half, a bit of misfortune happened with Beckham went down clutching his knee on a non-contact play.
OBJ left the field under his own power, going into the medical tent before heading to the locker room shortly after. I have did not return.
Then, Bengals safety Jessie Bates picked off Stafford in the end zone, leaping in front of Van Jefferson.
Just like that, SBLVI had its first turnover, and the score would remain 13-10 at the half.
The first taunting penalty of the game came immediately after when Bengals cornerback Vernon Hargreaveswho was not active for the game, ran onto the field after the interception.
The Rams are 47-1 when entering halftime with a lead (including playoffs) since Sean McVay became the head coach in 2017 — a .979 win percentage that leads the league over that span.
Since the 2012 season, the team that is leading at halftime in the Super Bowl is 6-1. The only loss was the Atlanta Falcons, who led the New England Patriots 21-3 at halftime in Super Bowl LI, but eventually lost 34-28 in overtime.
The highly anticipated halftime show featuring Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Kendrick Lamar, Mary J. Blige and surprise guest 50 Cent followed.
The Bengals made a statement to open the third, as Burrow hit Higgins for a jaw-dropping 75-yard TD.
It is the longest touchdown pass in a Super Bowl since Jake Delhomme launched an 85-yard score in 2004 — the longest TD pass in a Super Bowl. It is also the longest pass Jalen Ramsey has allowed in his NFL career.
Higgins’ score — that arguably shouldn’t have counted — gave Cincinnati its first lead of the game, 17-13.
Bengals are in business
On the Rams’ first play of the second half, Stafford was picked off by Bengals cornerback Chidobe Awuzie at LA’s own 31-yard line. He got some help from Rams receiver Ben Skowronek, who juggled a catchable pass.
The turnover ended in a field goal for Cincinnati, as the Bengals took a 20-13 lead early in the frame.
Copying the cats
On the ensuing drive, the Rams scored a field goal of their own to keep things close at 20-16.
After pulling within four points, LA got a scare when Bengals tackle DJ Reader took down Stafford, who limped off the field.
Luckily for Rams fans, Stafford has a long history of toughing out injuries.
The Rams returned the favor, as Von Miller came up with a huge sack on Burrow that nearly ended in a potentially game-changing turnover at the Bengals’ 4-yard line.
With 2.0 sacks, Miller tied Hall of Famer Charles Haley for the most career sacks in the Super Bowl (4.5 sacks over two Super Bowl appearances) since individual sacks became official in 1982.
Burrow has now been sacked seven times tonight, setting the record set by Roger Staubach in Super Bowl X.
Burrow appeared to be in pain and limped off the field, but he waived off trainers and showed no indication that he would leave the game.
The Rams came up with a gigantic fourth-down conversion with five minutes to play in the fourth.
Once again, Kupp came up with another huge play for LA, picking up 30 yards on back-to-back plays to get the Rams in the red zone as the two-minute warning approached.
Stafford threw three straight incomplete passes, but LA caught a break when a defensive holding penalty gave the Rams an automatic first down.
On the fifteenth play of the drive, and with 1:25 to play, Stafford hit Kupp for a 1-yard TD to take over, 23-20.
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George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism