Cincinnati Bengals Fall Short as L.A. Rams Rally for Super Bowl LVI Win

The Cincinnati Bengals were only about two minutes away from having a Cinderella story.

click to enlarge The Cincinnati Bengals prepare to take the field at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California, before Super Bowl LVI on Feb. 13, 2022. - PHOTO: TWITTER.COM/BENGALS
photo: twitter.com/bengals
The Cincinnati Bengals prepare to take the field at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California, before Super Bowl LVI on Feb. 13, 2022.

The Cincinnati Bengals were about two minutes away from having a Cinderella story. Unfortunately, the Los Angeles Rams grabbed the glass slipper.

The Bengals lost 20-23 in Super Bowl LVI, the team's first shot at the Vince Lombardi trophy since 1989. After earning a 10-7 regular-season record, winning the AFC North, and pulling out magical win after magical win in the post-season, the Bengals were thwarted on Feb. 13 by sacks and a lack of consistency.

But despite the Super Bowl defeat — which came near the end of the game — this Bengals team let Cincinnati fans dare to dream again after years of constant loss.

Right from the start, the game at SoFi Stadium was explosive. The Rams scored a touchdown and extra point in the first, but Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow shot a 46-yard pass down the field to eventually put kicker Evan McPherson into position for a Bengals 29-yard field goal. The Rams then nailed another touchdown to bring the score to Rams 7, Bengals 3 at the end of the first quarter.

The second quarter was all about incremental moves. Burrow shot pass after pass to a number of teammates, with running back Joe Mixon gaining yardage. But Mixon wasn't content to stick to the same old thing — with 5:52 left, he eventually passed for six yards to wide receiver Tee Higgins, giving Mixon his first-ever pro touchdown pass and making him just the fifth non-quarterback to throw a touchdown pass in a Super Bowl. McPherson added another point, making it 13-10 as a legendary A-list of Hip Hop artists prepared to take the stage to the delight of Gen Xers everywhere.

The third quarter was a wild romp. Buoyed by the halftime performance from Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Mary J. Blige, Kendrick Lamar and Eminem (plus guests 50 Cent and Anderson .Paak), Burrow passed to Higgins for 75 yards to score a touchdown just 15 seconds in. McPherson followed up with another extra point, naturally. Burrow then endured two sacks as the Bengals moved the ball down the field for yet another field goal, but the Rams followed just a few minutes later with their own, bringing the score to Bengals 20, Rams 16 at the end of third.

The injuries racked up on both sides as the game moved into the fourth quarter. With about 11 minutes left, Burrow howled in pain, grabbed his knee and limped off the field after being sacked for the seventh time. He heroically walked it off and headed back into the game, but at the two-minute warning, the score remained unchanged — that is, until the Rams rallied with a touchdown and extra point with 1:25 remaining. The night was over when the Rams' Aaron Donald stopped Burrow and L.A. ran out the clock, giving Bengals fans everywhere their biggest heartbreak since Hu-Dey beer first hit the market more than three decades ago. There would be no last-minute McPherson magic to save the evening this time.

But chin up, Cincinnati. If there's anything this Bengals team has taught us, it's to never count the orange and black out. Anything is possible next season.

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