(Photo by Bill Amatucci Collection)
Thanks to a heroic last drive by Matthew Stafford and Cooper Kupp coupled with Aaron Donald pressuring Joe Burrow on fourth-and-1 and forcing an incompletion, the Rams defeated the Bengals, 23-20, in Super Bowl LVI.
- Donald, who is a Penn Hills and Pitt product, wreaked havoc all game, as he recorded four total tackles (three solos), two sacks, two tackles for loss and three quarterback hits. Donald arguably could have been named co-MVP with Kupp, who had eight receptions for 92 yards (11.5 average) and two touchdowns.
- Kupp is the eighth player to win Super Bowl MVP as a wide receiver. Desmond Howard won the award as a kick returner. The connection between Stafford and Kupp on the final drive was very similar to Ben Roethlisberger and Santonio Holmes in Super Bowl XLIII. They just completely took over.
- According to Pro Football Reference, Donald is the first defensive tackle to have multiple sacks in a Super Bowl since Darnell Dockett sacked Ben Roethlisberger twice in Super Bowl XLIIl.
- With a Super Bowl ring now, there's really not much left for Donald to accomplish other than improving his Hall of Fame resume. That's why there are rumors floating around that Donald could walk away from the game and retire. In eight seasons, Donald has been named All-Pro seven times and selected to the Pro Bowl eight times. He's also been named AP Defensive Player of the Year three times. In addition, he has 98 sacks, 48 fumbles forced and 150 tackles for loss. He's a shoo-in to be in Canton someday, and arguably the greatest defensive tackle to ever play the game. Some Pittsburgh media members think Donald was even better than Joe Greene. There's also a debate that Donald is the best player to ever come out of Pitt, even better than Dan Marino and Tony Dorsett.
- The Bengals really need to figure out their offensive line issues this offseason, as they were horrendous all season, especially in the playoffs. After giving up nine sacks against the Titans in the divisional round game, the Bengals' offensive line allowed Burrow to be sacked seven times against the Rams, which is tied for a Super Bowl record. Roger Staubach was sacked seven times by the Steel Curtain in Super Bowl X.
- In the second quarter, Joe Mixon threw a 6-yard touchdown pass to Tee Higgins. Mixon was the first running back to throw a touchdown pass in the Super Bowl since Rams running back Lawrence McCutcheon hit Ron Smith for a 24-yard score in Super Bowl XIV, which was in 1980. Mixon was the fifth non-quarterback to throw a touchdown pass in Super Bowl history. Antwaan Randle-El's 43-yard touchdown pass to Hines Ward in Super Bowl XL is the longest for a non-quarterback in Super Bowl history.
- Sean McVay became the youngest head coach to win the Super Bowl. At 36 years and 20 days, he surpassed Mike Tomlin who was 36 years and 323 days old when he won Super Bowl XLIII.
- Steelers fifth-round pick in 2020 Antoine Brooks Jr. won a Super Bowl with the Rams as a backup safety, while former Steeler Mike Hilton came on the losing end. Hilton got beat by Odell Beckham Jr. for a touchdown in the first quarter.
- During the pregame show on NBC, Tony Dungy brought out his wooden locker tag from Super Bowl XIII. Teresa Varley of Steelers.com tweeted that the Steelers use the same tags in their lockers today, and Brett Keisel showed proof of that. Besides the Packers, no other organization values tradition like the Steelers.
- Jerome Bettis, Terry Bradshaw, JuJu Smith-Schuster, James Harrison and Troy Polamalu appeared in Super Bowl ads. The best commercial was with Polamalu and numerous other current and past players who were animated. I thought the ad by the NFL was the best Super Bowl commercial by far. James Harrison's "when Hollywood and real life don't match up" commercial with Kevin Hart was pretty good as well. That would be something else if Hart played Harrison in a movie and reenacted his 100-yard pick-six in Super Bowl XLIII.