The Los Angeles Rams beat the Cincinnati Bengals 23-20 in Super Bowl 56 Sunday at SoFi Stadium.
Quarterback Matthew Stafford found star receiver Cooper Kupp for the go-ahead, 1-yard touchdown with 1:25 to play. But would the Bengals answer? Three-time Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald ensured Cincinnati wouldn’t when he wrapped up Burrow on 4th-and-1 to seal the win with 39 seconds to play.
“For the offense to be able to find a way and Aaron to finish it off,” head coach Sean McVay said, “is poetic.”
It was the Rams’ second Super Bowl title in franchise history, with the first coming in 2000.
With a strong presence of Rams fans in the crowd of 70,048, the team became only the second to win the Lombardi Trophy in its home stadium. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers last season became the first team to do it.
The victory provided at least short-term validation for the Rams’ all-in approach, with the club having traded a slew of draft picks to acquire Stafford, outside linebacker Von Miller and wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. for its championship run.
Each acquisition contributed powerfully.
Stafford completed 26-of-40 passes for 283 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. He said the “up and down” game resembled the Rams’ inconsistent season and perhaps they even hearkened to Stafford’s high-octane but mistake-prone performances in a season replete with 41 touchdowns but 17 interceptions.
And yet, like his regular-season wave, Stafford built a cushion early and would deliver late when he mattered most.
The Rams were on the board first, Stafford hitting fellow 2021 acquisition Beckham on an airborne 17-yard touchdown with 6:22 to play in the first quarter. He’d strike again as Kupp faked a block before hauling in an 11-yard touchdown in the second quarter.
But the momentum swung shortly before halftime. Beckham attempted a crossing route akin to one on which he’d earlier raced upfield to net a 35-yard gain. Not so this time. Facing third-and-9, with 3:54 to play in the first half, Beckham dropped a pass and clutched his left knee. He wouldn’t return to the game.
Stafford heaved a prayer on third-and-14 later in the drive, and Bengals safety Jessie Bates III instead intercepted in the end zone. Cincinnati couldn’t convert before halftime but needed just one play in the third quarter to unload.
Leave it to Burrow to unleash a bomb toward receiver Tee Higgins down the left sideline, and Higgins capitalized for a 75-yard touchdown after Rams All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey lost his footing on a play Ramsey seemed to have expected a flag on for a facemask. Bengals cornerback Chidobe Awuzie stole a tipped pass the following play, Stafford’s second interception in short time. The Bengals extended their lead with a field goal, their 4-point lead almost enough to sustain a late-game punting fest.
But seven sacks, not including the final wrap-up by Donald, proved too much for Burrow and the Bengals to overcome. Burrow completed 22-of-33 passes for 263 yards including the 75-yard touchdown. He made no mistakes. But Stafford and Kupp punctuated the performance late. Burrow and his Bengals failed to answer.
Cincinnati running back Joe Mixon notched a game-high 72 yards rushing on 15 attempts in addition to completing a lone pass for a 6-yard touchdown to Higgins on a trick play, Cincinnati’s first score of the day. Mixon’s ground game nearly doubled the entire Los Angeles output, the Rams sputtering with just 1.9 yards per attempt and a total of 42 yards in the win.
They overcame the brick wall encountered on the ground with well-timed passing success and a nasty pass rush. Miller and Donald each sacked Burrow twice, the Bengals’ offensive line withstanding the Rams early but ultimately faltering in what had seemed like the game’s decisive mismatch.
Burrow and Stafford each limped off the field at points, Burrow sustaining seven crushing sacks to cap off a postseason that began with him often on the ground.
And with one last chance, down by three, Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald delivered the game-crushing sack. Stafford had punctuated his performance. Burrow couldn’t answer.
At 36, Rams head coach Sean McVay became the youngest coach to win a Super Bowl. The previous youngest was Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin. He was 36 when the Steelers won the Super Bowl in 2009 with a 27-23 victory over the Arizona Cardinals but was about 10 months older than McVay.
Despite the Bengals’ inspired one-year turnaround – they finished 4-11-1 in 2020 and this year went 10-7 and won the AFC North title before their postseason run – they remain one of 12 NFL franchises never to have won a Super Bowl.
— Josh Peter and Jori Epstein
Detroit Lions fans had a vested interest in Super Bowl 56.
Not only did former Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford lead the Rams to a 23-20 win with a patented come-from-behind victory, but the Lions’ extra first-round draft pick, coming from LA via the Stafford trade, hung on the game result.
Because the Rams were able to pull out the victory, the Lions have the final pick of the first round and now three selections in the first 34 spots.
But that’s in April. For now, Lions fans and former teammates had a chance to live vicariously through ol’ “No. 9.”
— Kirkland Crawford, Detroit Free Press
INGLEWOOD, Calif. – Joe Burrow played well enough to win in his first Super Bowl.
One problem: The phenomenal young Cincinnati Bengals quarterback lost.
This setback, a 23-20 nail-biter against the Los Angeles Rams at SoFi Stadium, was not on Burrow. He tried mightily to lift his team across the finish line, as you knew he would.
It’s just tough to win when you can feel the hot breath and stiff hits from guys like Aaron Donald, Von Miller and A’Shawn Robinson all game long. Burrow was sacked seven times and still nearly led the Bengals to a Super Bowl triumph for what would have been the first time in franchise history.
Maybe next time. One thing is for certain: The Bengals’ primary objective for the offseason is identified, loud and clear. Build the O-line. Invest heavily. Give Joe Cool the protection that will bring out the best in a quarterback who is already good enough, surely, to almost win a Super Bowl.
— Jarrett Bell
Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Eli Apple may have got the upper hand on the Kansas City Chiefs after defeating them in the AFC championship game, but Chiefs players may have gotten the last laugh after some called out Apple on his performance in the Bengals’ 23-20 loss to the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl 56.
In the AFC title game, Apple made a game-turning play at the end of the first half that proved to be critical to Cincinnati’s 27-24 victory.
Two weeks later, it looks like numerous Chiefs players did not forget those comments, as Apple was called for a pass interference late in the fourth quarter and was in coverage on Cooper Kupp during the game-winning touchdown pass.
Kansas City receiver Mecole Hardman reminded Apple he has something the Bengals defender doesn’t: a Super Bowl ring. And that was just the start of it.
— Jordan Mendoza
The Los Angeles Rams won the Super Bowl, but safety Taylor Rapp secured another kind of victory after the game: gaining a fiancée.
As the Rams celebrated the 23-20 win with their families on the field, Rapp was with his longtime girlfriend Dani Johnson. After the two embraced, Rapp got down on one knee, pulled out a ring and asked Johnson if she would marry him as teammates watched. Johnson said yes before the two embraced once again as teammates cheered.
Rapp and Johnson have been together well before he played college football for Washington from 2016-2018, as the two dated when Rapp was playing high school football at Sehome High School in Bellingham, Washington.
The Rams provided a Hollywood ending to a blockbuster season, but it wasn’t without some major plot twists.
Star wide receiver Cooper Kupp delivered — as he did all year.
The Bengals made some aggressive decisions, but ultimately succumbed to the Rams’ pressure.
USA TODAY Sports’ Nate Davis takes a look at the the major takeaways from Super Bowl 56.
After eight seasons of terrorizing nearly all NFL quarterbacks, Aaron Donald can finally add one award to his already legendary career: Super Bowl champion.
But now that arguably one of the greatest defensive linemen in the league’s history finally has a Super Bowl ring for his trophy collection, will this be the last time we see Donald in a Rams uniform?
During NBC’s Super Bowl pregame coverage, former safety Rodney Harrison sai Donald had indicated to him earlier this week that he would possibly retire with a Super Bowl 56 win.
Following the victory, Donald deflected a question about retirement from NBC reporter Michelle Tafoya.
“I’m in the moment. I’m enjoying this right now with these guys,” Donald said as he celebrated with teammates. “We going to play in the confetti for a minute and live in the moment.”
— Jordan Mendoza
Sean McVay entered the NFL head-coaching ranks in 2017 as the youngest hire in the league’s modern history at 33.
Now he’s beaten all his predecessors and contemporaries to another feat.
With the Los Angeles Rams’ 23-20 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday in Super Bowl 56 at SoFi Stadium, McVay becomes the youngest coach ever to win a Super Bowl. McVay, who is 36 years and 20 days old on Sunday, tops the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Mike Tomlin, who was 36 years, 10 months and 18 days old when his team beat the Arizona Cardinals to cap the 2008 season.
McVay defeated former pupil Zac Taylor, 38, in what marked the youngest matchup of coaches in Super Bowl history.
— Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz
It was a fitting conclusion to a historic season for Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp.
He led the NFL this year in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns. And then in the biggest game of them all, Kupp’s 1-yard touchdown reception provided the game-winning score in his team’s comeback victory.
Not surprisingly, Kupp — who caught eight passes for 92 yards and two touchdowns, and also contributed a key 7-yard run on 4th-and-1 to keep the Rams’ game-winning drive alive — was named the Super Bowl MVP.
After the Cincinnati Bengals’ Chidobe Awuzie intercepted Matthew Stafford early in the third quarter of Super Bowl 56, a fan was seen running across the SoFi Stadium field, beginning at the east end of the field.
The fan, who was fully clothed, was wearing a Super Bowl 56 sweatshirt and holding a banner
The streaker made it almost the length of the field before being tackled by security near the 10-yard line.
— Jordan Mendoza
On the first play from scrimmage in the second half, Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow went for the quick strike. On the receiving end, wideout Tee Higgins outfought Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey for the ball and took it all the way into the end zone for a 75-yard touchdown.
While impressive, Higgins catch didn’t make it into the top five longest touchdown receptions in Super Bowl history. The longest was an 85-yarder from Jake Delhomme to Muhsin Muhammad of the Carolina Panthers against the New England Patriots in Super Bowl 38.
The Rams led the Bengals 13-10 at halftime, with quarterback Matthew Stafford leading the way on the stat sheet.
Stafford completed 12-of-18 passes for 165 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the first half. Odell Beckham Jr. led the Rams with two catches for 52 yards and a TD before he left with an injury. Cooper Kupp caught three passes for 40 yards and a touchdown. Cam Akers led the Rams in rushing with seven carries for 10 yards.
For the Bengals, quarterback Joe Burrow matched Stafford’s 12-for-18 line for 114 yards. Ja’Marr Chase caught three passes for 62 yards to lead Cinicnnati receivers. Joe Mixon rushed for 40 yards on seven carries and threw a 6-yard touchdown pass.
The Super Bowl is more than just the biggest football game of the year.
While the annually televised event may be the crown jewel in the pantheon of American sports, it’s also a showcase for iconic musical performances.
This year, a lineup of hip-hop heavyweights, led by N.W.A. rapper and producer Dr. Dre, is filling the slot at this year’s halftime show.
Rappers Snoop Dogg, Kendrick Lamar and Eminem, along with the “Queen of Hip-Hop Soul” Mary J. Blige, are joining Dre for the performance, as teased in a nearly 4-minute trailer that dropped last month.
— Edward Segarra and Charles Trepany
It’s never good when you cost your team yardage by going onto the field in street clothes to celebrate an interception.
Cornerback Vernon Hargreaves joined his teammates in doing “The Griddy” after Cincinnati Bengals safety Jessie Bates III’s interception of Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford near the end of the first half of Super Bowl 56.
Adding insult to injury, NBC’s Al Michaels called out Hargreaves — among the Bengals’ inactive players for the game – and added, “He may be inactive for a while after this scene.”
A taunting penalty gave the Bengals the ball at their own 10 instead of the 20.
— Dave Clark, Cincinnati Enquirer
For most of the half, Odell Beckham Jr. seemed to turn back time in the Super Bowl.
Two spectacular catches, 52 yards, a touchdown.
Then came the scream, the wince, the grab of his left knee, the dreaded non-contact injury as the pain overwhelmed him too much to secure a near catch on second-and-9 with 3:54 to play in the second quarter.
The Rams initially said his return was questionable, but he was downgraded to out in the second half.
— Jori Epstein
Bengals running back Joe Mixon did his best Joe Burrow impression in the second quarter, tossing the first touchdown pass of his career, a 6-yarder to wide receiver Tee Higgins.
Mixon helped move the Bengals into scoring position with his legs, but on a second-and-goal play, he took a pitch from Burrow and swung wide enough to give him a perfect passing lane to Higgins.
The touchdown, with 5:47 left before halftime, cut the Bengals’ deficit to 13-10. It made Mixon the fifth non-quarterback to throw a touchdown pass in the Super Bowl. The last time it happened was the famous “Philly Special” when Philadelphia Eagles tight end Trey Burton connected with quarterback Nick Foles to spark a win over the New England Patriots four years ago.
The Bengals nearly answered the Rams’ first touchdown with one of their own in the final minute of the first quarter.
Although they had to settle for a 29-yard field goal by Evan McPherson, the Bengals score was set up by a 46-yard pass from quarterback Joe Burrow to rookie wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase.
Working against veteran Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey, Chase worked his way down the sideline to make a spectacular one-handed catch.
There are so many different potential storylines for this year’s Super Bowl, from the quarterback battle to the coaching showdown between former teacher and pupil. Perhaps three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald going up against the Bengals’ maligned line will be the difference in the game. Or could star wideouts Ja’Marr Chase, Cooper Kupp or Odell Beckham Jr. steal the show?
USA TODAY Sports’ NFL editors and writers offer their insights on what the defining story of Super Bowl 56 will be.
Sunday will serve as a showcase for SoFi Stadium, owner Stan Kroenke’s $5 billion home for the Los Angeles Rams. Among its many notable features: an indoor-outdoor setup, a 120-yard-long Infinity Screen scoreboard and translucent, canopy-style roof.But the history and impact of SoFi Stadium are complex, as some heavily criticized tactics tactics paved the way for the project in Inglewood, California. Read more from USA TODAY Sports’ Josh Peter on how the stadium has created hardships for thousands of residents.
A 25-ounce can of Michelob Ultra is usually a pretty cheap beer to buy from a grocery retailer, costing $3 at Vons and $2.79 at Instacart.
But this is the Super Bowl at SoFi Stadium, where the same brand of beer costs $17 for the same-size can at Sunday’s game between the Los Angeles Rams and Cincinnati Bengals.
Other items at the concession stands on Super Bowl Sunday came with similar sticker shock:
►$12 for a jumbo hot dog
►$7 for a 20-ounce fountain soda
►And $55 for a small Los Angeles Rams T-shirt
SoFi Stadium had the most expensive hot dogs and beer in the NFL in 2021, according to Team Marketing Report’s NFL Fan Cost Index for 2021.
— Brent Schotenboer
As the home team in Super Bowl 56 – despite playing at the Rams’ home, Los Angeles’ SoFi Stadium – the Cincinnati Bengals are wearing their black jersey, white pants with orange stripes. And orange socks.
The black jersey is part of the Bengals’ standard uniform when they play at Paul Brown Stadium. They’ve worn it with white pants and black pants.
The Rams are wearing their white jerseys with blue numerals. And yellow pants.
With football’s biggest day of the year comes parties, fandom, betting, and – of course – Super Bowl squares.
If you’re looking for a refresher on how to play this fun and easy party game, check out our primer on how to set up your own game. We also have some insight into exactly which squares provide the best odds to pay out. (Hint: avoid the 2s and 5s if possible!.)
LOS ANGELES – As Odell Beckham Jr. takes aim at his first championship ring, it’s jarring to think he’s no better than the third-best wide receiver playing in Super Bowl 56 – at least based on how the 2021 season unfolded.
Yet the likes of Los Angeles Rams Offensive Player of the Year Cooper Kupp and Cincinnati Bengals Offensive Rookie of the Year Ja’Marr Chase are a long way from approaching the still-dynamic legacy OBJ has somehow crafted in just eight NFL seasons.
It was apparent this week that there’s a real peace about Beckham, 29, who projected striking self-awareness while also appearing fully cognizant of his lofty place in the league’s pantheon.
“Knowing that responsibility that I carry to set a standard, to know that some of them look up to me, is the reason why I feel like I’m how I am now instead of the 23-year-old me,” Beckham says. “You’ve got to go through things to grow through things.”
— Nate Davis
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow was looking sharp as he boarded the bus with his team ahead of Sunday’s Super Bowl 56 matchup against the Los Angeles Rams at SoFi Stadium, wearing a tiger-striped, gray-and-black suit with a black hat.
NFL Network co-host Rich Eisen compared Burrow’s pregame hat to that of Walter White’s alter ego from “Breaking Bad.”
The Bengals also shared video of Burrow’s locker as they arrived at SoFi Stadium.
— Dave Clark, Cincinnati Enquirer
USA TODAY Sports has loaded up on Super Bowl coverage in the last two weeks. Here are some of the best reads to get you ready for the game.
Super Bowl predictions: Will the Bengals or Rams win? Who will be MVP? And which players could be X-factors?
Super Bowl matchup breakdown: Who holds the advantage in every facet of the game? Nate Davis breaks down how the game could be won.
Did Sean McVay learn from being “outcoached” in the last Super Bowl?: The Rams coach addresses how he balances learning his previous Super Bowl disappointment with keeping a focus on the future.
NFL’s coaching revolution on display: The meeting between Sean McVay and Zac Taylor won’t simply be a reunion between former teacher and protégé, but also an indicator of where the league’s coaching movement is heading.
How Kelly and Matthew Stafford made things work in Los Angeles: Kelly, the wife of the Rams quarterback, gives exclusive insight on the challenges the Staffords’ marriage faced after a move to Los Angeles.
Tightwad vs. big spender: The Bengals’ Mike Brown and Rams’ Stan Kroenke are a study in contrasting ownership styles.
Eric Weddle was retired – then he came back for a shot at a Super Bowl ring: How did the Rams get a 37-year-old who had been retired for 2 years up to speed for a Super Bowl run?
Move over, Tom Brady: There’s a new oldest active player in the NFL, and Rams left tackle Andrew Whitworth relishes his senior status.
How one transfer changed the course of college football, NFL history: Joe Burrow’s move from Ohio State to LSU forever changed the football landscape.