Great season for the Bengals that unfortunately came up a little short.
Bengals score in Super Bowl 2022: Los Angeles torments Joe Burrow as Cincinnati coughs up late lead
Cincinnati came up just short in Super Bowl LVI
The Cincinnati Bengals were just minutes away from winning their first-ever Super Bowl against the Los Angeles Rams, but their potential game-winning drive came up short, as Joe Burrow and Co. fell, 23-20. Cooper Kupp's touchdown with 1:25 left in the fourth quarter gave the Rams the lead late, setting up Burrow with the opportunity for a game-tying or game-winning drive. However, he was pressured by Aaron Donald on fourth-and-1 with 43 seconds left, and couldn't complete a first-down pass to Samaje Perine.
Burrow finished the game having completed 22 of 33 passes for 263 yards and one touchdown, while Joe Mixon also threw a touchdown. Tee Higgins was the recipient of both scores, as he caught four passes for 100 yards. The Bengals defense held their own all day, but the Rams' 15-play, 79-yard touchdown drive at the end sealed the deal.
Let's take a deeper look into what occurred in L.A. on Sunday.
What went right for the Bengals
Rookie phenom Ja'Marr Chase had a great game with five catches for 89 yards, but the Bengals definitely needed another playmaker to step up. Higgins did just that, as he caught both of Cincy's two touchdowns. Mixon was efficient on the ground as well, as he rushed for 72 yards on 15 carries, averaging 4.8 rushing yards per touch.
Defensively, the Bengals front four played intense football for all four quarters. The Rams had just 43 rushing yards, with Cam Akers being their lead man with 21 yards on 13 carries. L.A. could get absolutely nothing going on the ground, and that's a credit to this defensive front.
What went wrong for the Bengals
Coming into this matchup, plenty was made about Cincinnati's offensive line. They allowed nine sacks against the Tennessee Titans in the divisional round, and Burrow spent half the AFC Championship game dodging Kansas City Chiefs pass-rushers. How would they hold up against Aaron Donald and Co.? The offensive line actually did a great job in the first half, allowing just one sack. However, they fell apart in the second half, and allowed six sacks. Burrow's seven sacks taken tie the Super Bowl record. He finishes the postseason having been sacked 19 times, which is the most a quarterback has been sacked in a single postseason. This hurt the Bengals late, as they scored zero points in the fourth quarter. It was the only quarter in which they failed to score.
Containing Kupp was always going to be a tough ask, even with Odell Beckham Jr. exiting early due to a knee injury. The Super Bowl MVP finished with eight receptions for 92 yards, but he also caught two touchdowns. That includes the game-winning score, where he was lined up one-on-one against Eli Apple.
It was a close game that came down to the very last drive, but the Rams' stars eventually out-shined those of the Bengals.
Bengals plays of the game
Late in the second quarter, the Bengals were probing deep in Rams territory. They used the run game to get to the red zone, so when Mixon received a toss right, the Rams defensive backs came down to stop him. That allowed the running back to throw a pass to an open Higgins in the back of the end zone.
Check out Cincy's first touchdown of the game, here.
The Bengals clearly spent time watching the halftime show, because they came out of the break juiced up. On the first play of the third quarter, Burrow found Higgins for a 75-yard touchdown. Now, did the second-year wideout tug a bit on Jalen Ramsey's facemask while positioning himself for the catch? Yes. But he didn't get flagged.
This was the longest receiving touchdown in the Super Bowl since Muhsin Muhammad's 85-yard touchdown in Super Bowl XXXVIII. Check it out:
Again, no one expected the Bengals to be here. Win or lose, this franchise has a good head coach, a legitimate franchise quarterback, multiple stars at wide receiver and a defense that surprised everyone with their performance. Cincinnati will use this offseason to get better, and the Bengals will enter the 2022 season as the reigning AFC Champions who will remember this bitter feeling.
Bengals didn't score in the fourth quarter after taking a 20-13 lead. Give credit to the Rams for fighting back and winning the Super Bowl.
Tough way to end the game for the Bengals. Burrow didn't have any chance on fourth down. Really it came down to the Bengals issues up front. Couldn't get a yard on third down and Burrow didn't have any time to throw on the last play.
Not sure what happened there.
Great start to this potential game-winning drive!
Burrow to Chase for 17 yards. Bengals about 20 yards from FG range.
One-on-one there? Come on.
Apple had no chance. Positive is the Bengals only need a FG and have 1:25 and two timeouts. Plenty of time.
This does not help the Bengals at all. 1:29 left now.
Refs left them play all game but expect the players to clean things up now. It doesn't work that way.
Bengals take their first timeout.
We went from no flags all game to this. Although, some of these I can't contest.
Offsetting penalties which hurts the Bengals more than the Rams. A penalty would have moved the ball back to the 14.
What the hell was Stafford doing running up to Vonn Bell?
uh. close call.
Rams are going to have a first and goal.
Haven't called it all game.
Wow, they're calling DPI here.
Is this the game?!
Third and goal coming up. You'd think they have to be going to Kupp here.
Stafford had Jefferson wide open but overthrew him.
Eerily similar to AFC title game but difference is Chiefs only needed a FG. Rams need a TD.
1:55 left and the Rams are in goal-to-go. Both teams have each of their timeouts left. It's going to be interesting how each team uses them here.
Bengals aren't getting any pressure on Stafford and he's chewing them up.
When Kupp got that first down there was no roar.
Random observation but you'd never know the Rams are the home SB team.
WHOA. Looked like the Bengals stuffed the Rams on third and 1. Decision time.
Pratt stuffs Akers on third and one, and the Rams are going for it.
Big drop by Boyd on third down. He was short of the sticks but could have muscled his way for a first down. Plus the clock stops.
There they go. Feed Mixon.
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