This one hurt. The Cincinnati Bengals seemed to be in position to win the game in the fourth quarter until Matthew Stafford and the Los Angeles Rams finally figured out how to move the ball late in the game. Despite the loss, the team (other than the o-line) played outstanding overall.
Joe Mixon - The Bengals running back threw a touchdown pass, his first ever pass attempt, in the second quarter. He floated a perfect ball to Tee Higgins for a play that earned a shocking reaction from Joe Burrow’s mom. Mixon also helped chew up clock late in the game on his way to 72 yards on 15 carries because the Rams stormed back.
Tee Higgins - The second-year receiver really stepped up this year, and the Super Bowl was no different He ended up with four receptions and 100 yards receiving but he also scored the Bengals’ only two touchdowns of the game, one a 75-yard catch and run on the first play after halftime. On the play, he gloriously flung Jalen Ramsey to the ground (yeah, yeah, facemask).
Ja’Marr Chase - The rookie receiver got the best of Ramsey as well, showing he has the clear athletic advantage. He finished with 89 yards on five receptions, including an acrobatic 46-yard grab that set up Cincinnati’s first points of the game.
Jessie Bates - The free safety had a huge endzone pick on a deep heave from Matthew Stafford with 2:10 left in the first half and patrolled the field all game.
Joe Burrow - The quarterback was sacked seven times and pressured on a high percentage of his dropbacks but still managed to throw for 263 yards, a touchdown pass, and complete 67% of his passes in a game that went down to the wire.
Logan Wilson - The second year linebacker was everywhere. He had nine tackles, three for a loss. But the stats don’t do justice to how well he closed in on players in the open field. He got called for an absolutely absurd defensive holding call on the Rams’ game-winning touchdown drive that, in no way, diminishes his stellar play in this game.
Chidobe Awuzie - The cornerback continued his outstanding play this year and helped shut down the Rams’ passing attack for the middle of the game.
The offensive line - Put simply, they lost the game, and we all saw it coming. With the Bengals up 20-16, the line proceeded to give up four sacks to surrender the lead. Burrow was pressured on an absurd amount of his dropbacks. Yes, the Rams have an outstanding pass rush, but even an average line would have been able to find a way to protect its quarterback with that kind of momentum.
Vernon Hargreaves - Despite being inactive, the cornerback was called for taunting after running into the endzone folllowing Bates’ interception.
Tyler Boyd - It pains me to write this, but the reliable receiver chose the worst possible moment to drop his first pass, a third and nine situation with a little over six minutes left and the Bengals clinging to a four point lead.
Eli Apple - The brash cornerback vindicated his biggest haters by getting toasted time after time by Cooper Kupp. He was torched on a Kupp touchdown early in the second quarter. Then, at the end of the game, he was called for defensive pass interference when he was clearly outmatched against the star slot receiver. Two plays later, Apple gave up the game-winning play to Kupp.