Super Bowl notebook: Bengals’ 2 big plays in 22 seconds not enough

Associated Press

The Cincinnati Bengals got their two biggest plays before everybody got back into their seats after the Super Bowl 56 halftime show.


Joe Burrow found Tee Higgins for a 75-yard touchdown on the Bengals’ first play of the third quarter.

Following an extra point and a kick return, blink again. Bengals cornerback Chidobe Awuzie grabbed a ball that bounced off Rams wide receiver Ben Skowronek for Cincinnati’s second interception of the game to set up rookie Evan McPherson’s second field goal of the game.

All in the span of 22 seconds.

Then little else Sunday, and now the Bengals go back to Cincinnati from their first Super Bowl since the 1988 season still looking for their first championship after a 23-20 loss to the Los Angeles Rams.

Burrow moved to his right and then up before throwing deep to Higgins, who grabbed Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey’s face mask and pushed off to create separation for the catch. Higgins then ran to the end zone to finish off the 75-yard TD for a 17-13 lead at 14:48.

Ten seconds later, Awuzie grabbed the ball that bounced off Skowroneck. But the Bengals had to settle for a second field goal.

After that, Burrow had plenty of chances along with Offensive Rookie of the Year Ja’Marr Chase to pad what was a 20-13 lead. But the Bengals punted four times with two three-and-outs, and Cincinnati gave up five sacks in the third quarter alone.

The Bengals had 1:25 left and two timeouts remaining with a chance to at least force overtime with McPherson, who tied Adam Vinatieri’s NFL postseason record with his 14th field goal in these playoffs. Burrow got the Bengals to midfield with a quick pass to Chase, then another to Tyler Boyd.

Then Burrow, the quarterback who came in 7-0 in playoff games in college and the NFL combined, threw the ball away on second-and-1. A run by Samaje Perine got nothing, then Burrow tried to escape Aaron Donald with a pass that fell harmlessly to the turf at SoFi stadium to start the Rams’ celebration.

Beckham sidelined

Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. will not return to the Super Bowl after he suffered an injury to his left knee during the second quarter against the Cincinnati Bengals.

It is the same knee Beckham injured midway through the 2020 season in Cleveland, which caused him to miss the rest of the year.

Beckham suffered the injury on a noncontact play with 3:50 remaining in the second quarter. The mercurial wide receiver, who was signed by the Rams after being released by Cleveland at midseason, was running toward the right side of the field on a crossing route, but it appeared as though his foot got caught in the turf. He dropped a pass thrown by Matthew Stafford and clutched his leg as he fell to the turf.

Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (3) is attended on the field during the first half.

Beckham was looked at by trainers on the field before being helped off. He was looked at briefly in the medical tent on the Rams’ sideline before heading to the locker room.

Beckham, who was signed by the Rams after being released by Cleveland at midseason, had two receptions for 52 yards. He scored Los Angeles’ first touchdown when he beat Mike Hilton in the right corner of the end zone for a 17-yard score to put the Rams on top 7-0 in the first quarter.

Beckham caught 27 passes for 305 yards and five touchdowns in eight regular-season games with the Rams, providing a much-needed fill-in after Robert Woods was injured in practice a day after Beckham’s arrival.

He was better in the Rams’ run to their second Super Bowl in four years, with 19 receptions for 236 yards and a TD in three victories.

Beckham will be a free agent after Sunday’s game. His girlfriend, singer/fitness trainer Lauren Wood, is expected to have the couple’s first child any day now.

Bengals fans

In Cincinnati, thousands of excited Bengals fans turned out to watch Sunday’s Super Bowl 56 against the Los Angeles Rams.

Many fans in orange-and-black Bengals gear gathered to view the game outdoors even as a light snow fell – a far cry from sunny Los Angeles, where the temperature was 82 ahead of kickoff at SoFi Stadium.

Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) rolls out of the pocket under pressure from Cincinnati Bengals defensive end Sam Hubbard (94) during the first half of the NFL Super Bowl 56 football game Sunday, Feb. 13, 2022, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Hundreds braved the elements to head down to The Banks, a strip of bars along the Ohio River that’s been shut down Sunday to make room for a huge watch party, with live music, heaters and tons of food trucks.

“Everyone from the city, from 50 miles out is here for sure,” said Bethany Moser, a college student who’s lived most of her life in Cincinnati and came downtown for game day.

“It’s been too long. It’s been a drought, so I’d say they deserve this at this point!” she said.

Bastian Korreck is from Germany but has adopted the Bengals since coming to Kentucky for college.

“I’m excited for some deep-throw touchdowns to Joe Shiesty to the man Ja’marr Chase. I’m excited for some big plays. I’m excited for Aaron Donald to miss a couple of tackles, and obviously the W for the Bengals,” he said.

Coin toss

The Cincinnati Bengals have won the coin toss and have deferred to put the Los Angeles Rams on offense to start Super Bowl 56.

It just may not be the omen Bengals’ fans want.

The last seven coin-toss winners wound up losing the Super Bowl. The last team to win the coin toss and the Super Bowl? Seattle beat Denver in 2014.

Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford called tails with Los Angeles technically the visiting team. The coin tossed by Billie Jean King came up heads.

King was on hand for the coin toss as the NFL recognized the 50-year anniversary of Title IX enacted in 1972 as part of the Education Amendments providing equal funding for men and women for the first time at high schools, colleges and universities receiving federal funding.

She was joined by the team captains for the California School for the Deaf Riverside Cubs, members of the high school girls flag league of champions and girls youth tackle football players from the Inglewood Chargers and Watts Rams.

King tweeted out video of her practicing the coin toss before kickoff. King wrote “Pressure is a privilege” and she noted the tip to bend her knees actually helped a lot.

Quickie Mickey

Quickie Mickey” slowed it down for the Super Bowl.

Mickey Guyton, who told The Associated Press this week that she’d earned the nickname for singing “The Star Spangled Banner” in a tight 1:30, sang it in about 1:50 on Sunday before the Los Angeles Rams and Cincinnati Bengals took the field.

Oddsmakers had put the over/under on the anthem length at 1:35.

“I don’t want to ruin anybody’s sports bets, but let’s just say it’s the Super Bowl, so it most likely won’t be as fast,” the Grammy-nominated country singer told the AP.

She was still faster than the Super Bowl average of around two minutes.

Expensive tickets

It’s hot at SoFi Stadium for Super Bowl 56. Just not the hottest ever for this game.

The temperature is 82 ahead of kickoff between the Los Angeles Rams and Cincinnati Bengals after having cooled off from 85 a couple hours before kickoff. California has been dealing with a heat wave over the past week with temperatures reaching into the low 90s in the region.

That’s short of the record of 84 set on Jan. 14, 1973, at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

Getting into this Super Bowl at the last minute will mean a big hit to the wallet.

StubHub says the get-in price Sunday was $3,800, a jump of 10% from Saturday, and the average price for tickets sold was $6,136. That’s a dip of 8% from Saturday.

The site still had more than 1,400 tickets available Sunday morning.

Cincinnati Bengals kicker Evan McPherson (2) and Los Angeles Rams kicker Matt Gay (8) talk on the field before the NFL Super Bowl 56 football game Sunday, Feb. 13, 2022, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Fans from California have bought nearly 40% more tickets over the last 24 hours and also nearly 35% of new tickets sold in that span.

The Cincinnati faithful have been busy with buyers from Ohio accounting for 8% of sales.

On the field

Kickoff at Super Bowl 56 is less than an hour away with both teams warming up on the field at SoFi Stadium.

Joe Burrow is leading the Cincinnati Bengals with Matthew Stafford all decked out in the Rams’ modern throwback white jerseys. This is the first Super Bowl berth for each.

Burrow is the fastest to go from No. 1 overall pick to starting in this game.

Stafford had never won a playoff game before this postseason after the Rams traded for him. Stafford comes in with 49,995 yards passing and 323 TD passes. That’s the most ever for a quarterback making his first Super Bowl appearance. Stafford needs only 209 yards passing to become the sixth player to reach 6,000 in a single season.

Who Dey

The “Who Dey!” fans are making themselves known inside SoFi Stadium.

The concourses are packed with people with Bengals jerseys and they are outnumbering Rams jerseys by almost a 4-to-1 margin. The most popular jersey is that of Joe Burrow’s No. 9.

The Bengals faithful aren’t waiting for kickoff either. They’re walking around breaking into chants of “Who Dey!” inside the house of their opponent.

85 degrees

Super Bowl 56 could make history at kickoff before either the Los Angeles Rams and Cincinnati Bengals begin the opening drives.

The temperature two hours before kickoff was 85 degrees with the chance for the gauge to go even higher by the time the ball is kicked off. That would make this the hottest Super Bowl ever, topping the record of 84 set on Jan. 14, 1973, at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

California has been dealing with a heat wave with eight locations in the region posting record temperatures in the upper 80s and low 90s earlier this week.

Wear masks

Signs all around SoFi Stadium remind people to wear masks, though many people inside for Super Bowl 56 are walking around without masks even when not eating or drinking. President Joe Biden says he thinks people should be careful if not for themselves but for their children and families.

Biden was asked about people going maskless at the Super Bowl by Lester Holt in an interview shown during NBC’s pregame show. The president said he loves how people talk about personal freedom. Biden said he doesn’t consider people not wearing masks as practicing freedom. He says they put their own health and others in jeopardy.

He also encouraged people to get vaccinated and to use the tools to help prevent death and serious illness.

California will be easing mask requirements Tuesday, two days after the Super Bowl.

Home-field advantage

The Cincinnati Bengals are the home team Sunday in the Super Bowl – technically. The home-field advantage belongs all to the Los Angeles Rams.

The NFC champions (15-5) will dress and work out of their usual locker room after spending the night before the big game in their usual hotel. The Rams’ logo is plastered all around and inside SoFi Stadium even with the banners making it clear this is the Super Bowl.

Yes, the Bengals (13-7) are represented inside the stadium with their name and “Who Dey!” mantra opposite the Rams.

This is the second straight Super Bowl where the home team has gotten to play on its own field after Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers won a championship a year ago in Raymond James Stadium. Before that, the NFL went 54 years without a team playing a Super Bowl in its home stadium.