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Super Bowl LVI: What we learned about the Rams, Bengals and football

Written By | Feb 14, 2022
Super Bowl LVI, Rams, Bengals

Courtesy NFL.COM Super Bowl LVI

LOS ANGELES, February 14, 2022 — For those who celebrate love, February 14 matters. For those who love football, it was the 13th this year. A thrilling NFL postseason ended with a fantastic Super Bowl LVI (56) that went down to the wire. The Los Angeles Rams gutted a 23-20 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals.

Here are ten things we learned from this Super Bowl.

1) Joe Burrow and Matthew Stafford have heart and guts —

Both quarterbacks came in with high expectations. Burrow was the very top pick in the 2020 Draft. Stafford was traded from Detroit to Los Angeles specifically to win the Super Bowl. Burrow was supposed to be a franchise savior, and Stafford was the last piece of the puzzle. Both quarterbacks exceeded the sky-high expectations set for them. They both got sacked awkwardly and went to the ground in pain. Both quarterbacks refused to come out of the game for even one play.

While playing injured, Stafford led the winning touchdown drive, and Burrow nearly did the same. These two quarterbacks represented the best of football.




2) The Bengals offensive line must improve —

Burrow took a beating this year. He was sacked 70 times on the season. In the Divisional round of the playoffs, He was sacked nine times by the Tennessee defense. The Rams defense led by Aaron Donald and Von Miller recorded seven sacks and nearly knocked Burrow out of the game. The Bengals have a tough running back in Joe Mixon, a superstar wide receiver in JaMarr Chase, and a stingy defense filled with unheralded quality free agents. None of that matters without Burrow. He is the franchise, and the top priority for the Bengals in the Draft must be obtaining some big wedges of beef upfront to keep Burrow upright.

3) Halftime shows and commercials are irrelevant —

The NFL decided years ago to take the Super Bowl and turn it from a football game into an entertainment spectacle. The goal was to increase television ratings by attracting viewers who usually never watch football. A better approach would be to gain more year-round football fans. Ratings for the AFC and NFC Title Games are very high without all the irrelevant pomp and circumstance of the Super Bowl.

There is nothing wrong with having a music concert before or after the game.

Music The NFL does this with their kickoff game to open the season. During the Super Bowl halftime, the jumbotron should feature highlights from Super Bowls past. Casual fans can learn about Vince Lombardi, George Halas, Paul Brown, and other game legends. These new fans can learn about the voice of John Facenda and the beauty of Ed Sabot’s NFL Films. Football is so powerful that it can stand alone without anything not related to football. Honoring the newest Professional Football Hall of Fame class for the entire halftime would be one option. People who watch the Super Bowl only for the halftime show and commercials detract from the game of football. This year the halftime show had talented performers. Yet their performance became irrelevant 12 seconds into the third quarter when Burrow completed a 75-yard touchdown bomb to change the momentum in the game.

4) Burrow and Zac Taylor classy in defeat —

Sportsmanship still exists. Despite some controversial calls by the officials, neither Burrow nor Bengals coach Zac Taylor made excuses. Instead, they gave credit where credit was due. Neither Burrow nor Taylor shoved their offensive line under the bus. They won all year as a team and lost the Super Bowl.

On a separate note, Stafford and Rams coach Sean McVay was humble in victory.

McVay lost the Super Bowl three years ago, giving him a deep appreciation for being on the winning side. For the most part, this was a clean game without cheap shots or dirty play. Taylor made a point of telling viewers how proud he was of his team. The Bengals lost this game, but they are no longer the same old Bengals. Kids could learn about character from watching the postgame remarks from the stars on both teams.

 

5) Aaron Donald is one of the best —

On the defensive side of the ball, Donald was already in the conversation as one of the best defensive linemen to ever play professional football. Unfortunately, the hyperbole train has declared him the best defender ever. That train needs to slow down. Lawrence Taylor, Mean Joe Greene, and Reggie White are the top three.

Donald has a legitimate case to be one of the top five defenders. So do Ray Lewis, Dick Butkus, and Chuck Bednarik.

Donald took over the game when it mattered most. The Bengals had two tries to gain one yard and move toward the tying field goal. Donald denied the Bengals that yard. Donald should be a first-ballot Hall of Famer, but to say he is the best defender of all time is a stretch.

6) Sometimes life is much bigger than the big game —

Congratulations to Rams wide receiver Van Jefferson. As soon as the game ended and Jefferson was a super Bowl Champion, he was whisked away to the hospital for the best of reasons. Jefferson got to the hospital just in time as his wife gave birth to his newborn son. Jefferson had four receptions during the game but his fifth reception was the most precious. Photos show him laying in the hospital bed holding his son. Congratulations also go out to Rams safety Taylor Rapp. After winning one ring, he gave out another ring. On the field at Sofi Stadium after the game was over, Rapp got down on one knee and proposed to his girlfriend. she said yes.


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7) You can win through free agency or the Draft —

The Bengals built the core of their team through the Draft. They picked Burrow in 2020 and Chase in 2021. The Rams relied on free-agent players trading for Stafford in the 2021 off-season and then trading for Von Miller and O’Dell Beckham Jr. midseason. The Bengals, however, went young even as the Rams went old. So there is no right or wrong answer to this question.

Every team needs a combination of great players. The Rams selected Cam Akers and Van Jefferson in the 2020 Draft.   Bengals bolstered their defense through several free agency trades.

8) It’s not about the money —

People who think professional athletes only care about money could not be more wrong. Professional football players make millions of dollars. While the media promotes stories about athletes blowing all their money, many athletes hang on to their money and use it for noble purposes. After the Super Bowl, Donald and Beckham were crying their eyes out. They were on the winning team and weeping after being overcome with joy. Buddy Ryan remarked that football could guarantee players plenty of money, tons of fun, and lifelong friendships. Yet Ryan cautioned that nobody in football was guaranteed a Super Bowl ring. That has to be earned.

Many players have taken pay cuts to leave a losing team and pursue a championship in their later years. Super Bowl rings are priceless and forever. The players understand this.

9) 2022 is up for grabs —

In some seasons, the Super Bowl winner was a foregone conclusion. The 1985 Bears, 1986 Giants, and 1991 Redskins were preseason favorites who romped through the regular season and smashed everything in their path. They won their playoff games by wide margins and easily won the Super Bowl. While the 2021 Rams were a preseason favorite, nothing came easy for them.

As for the Bengals, they came out of nowhere. The Rams and Bengals teams entered the playoffs as the four seed in their respective conferences. Both teams had to win a Wildcard game at home before winning two more playoff games on the road. They both overcame a double-digit second-half deficit in their respective Conference Title Games. Winning their Divisional Playoff game and their Conference Title Game by exactly three points. They then played a Super Bowl decided by three points.

The Bengals went from winning four games in 2020 to nearly winning it all in 2021. Any number of teams could have won the Super Bowl this year. There was no clear favorite. There will be no clear favorite next year. The late NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle is smiling in heaven. The “Any Given Sunday” competitive balance is alive and well.

10) Covid is over — 

Coronavirus is real, but measures designed to prevent it, such as taking daily Zinc, D, and others, have been rejected by the general public. The leaders pushing the strictest mask mandates have been repeatedly caught violating their mandates. The excuses become more preposterous with each violation.

Seventy thousand fans gathered in SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles for the Super Bowl.

Despite Los Angeles having one of the strictest mask mandates in America, the Super Bowl attendees deliberately disregarded the mandate. Instead, Hollywood celebrities and powerful politicians thumbed their noses at it. The Super Bowl was the day that Covid, as a pandemic panic, ended. Life returned to normal for those wealthy enough to afford Super Bowl tickets.

There is no legitimate reason for any city or state in America to have any mask mandate anywhere. Moreover, because the people enacting the mandates do not believe in them, neither should anyone else.

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Eric Golub

Brooklyn born, Long Island raised and now living in Los Angeles, Eric Golub is a politically conservative columnist, blogger, author, public speaker, satirist and comedian. Read more from Eric at his TYGRRRR EXPRESS blog. Eric is the author of the book trilogy “Ideological Bigotry, “Ideological Violence,” and “Ideological Idiocy.”