Welcome to the Monday edition of the Pick Six newsletter and happy Valentine’s Day to everyone except for me. My Valentine’s Day is off to a rough start because I just watched my team lose in the Super Bowl, I’m 2,000 miles away from my valentine/wife and I think I ordered oat milk in my coffee today instead of almond milk.
With all that happening, it’s a minor miracle that there’s even a newsletter today, especially when you also consider that I’m pretty sure the day after the Super Bowl is the No. 1 day of the year to skip work. I was going to skip work, but then I thought the least I could do is show up and go through the motions, which is kind of what it felt like the officials were doing last night during the RAMS‘ WILD 23-20 WIN OVER THE BENGALS in Super Bowl LVI. And just for the record, I thought the officiating was bad for both teams and that the team that deserved to win ended up winning.
As you can imagine, we have a lot to cover today and 80% of it is Super Bowl related, so let’s get to the rundown.
As always, please tell everyone you know to sign up for the newsletter. To get them signed up, all you have to do is click here and then share the link with them. If you need a reason to convince them to sign up, just tell them that the guy who writes it is going to be sulking for the next two weeks because his team lost in the Super Bowl. Actually, that’s not a great selling point, but I don’t feel like thinking of something else, so let’s just use it.
1. Today’s show: Full recap of Super Bowl LVI
If you want to see someone look and sound depressed for 30 straight minutes, then I highly suggest that you listen to our Super Bowl recap podcast. As the resident Bengals homer here at CBSSports.com, I was definitely not emotionally ready to record a podcast after the game, but I sucked it up and recorded a live hit from SoFi Stadium with Will Brinson and Ryan Wilson. I was only on the pod for 35 minutes, but Wilson and Brinson stuck around for nearly an hour after that to break down every aspect of the game, so you’ll want to make sure to listen to the entire thing.
Here’s a look at some of the keys from the game that we touched on during the podcast.
- Rams defense dominates second half. There’s a reason why Aaron Donald is a future Hall of Famer and he showed why in the second half. Led by Donald, the Rams’ defensive line absolutely took over the game in the third quarter. The Rams’ defense sacked Joe Burrow a Super Bowl record-tying seven times in the game and the painful part for Burrow is that FIVE of those sacks came in the third quarter. It was a defensive performance that the Rams needed because their offense sputtered out of the gate in the second half. After Matthew Stafford threw a pick on the Rams’ first play of the second half, it looked like the Bengals might run away with the game, but the defense limited Cincinnati to a field goal on the ensuing possession and then didn’t let the Bengals score for the rest of the game.
- Bengals couldn’t stop Cooper Kupp or Odell Beckham. With the Bengals absolutely shutting down the Rams’ run game, Los Angeles needed a big performance from its star receivers and both guys came through. Before leaving the game with an injury in the first half, Beckham caught two passes for 52 yards and a TD. The Bengals had no answers for him and he might have finished with 125 yards or more if he had stayed in the game. As for Kupp, although he got off to a quiet start, the Super Bowl MVP took over the game on the possession that led to the Rams’ game-winning TD. Not only did he catch the game-winning score, but he also came through with a key 7-yard run on fourth-and-1.
- Bengals coaching staff didn’t have a great game. One of Cincinnati’s best players in this game was Joe Mixon, but for some reason, Zac Taylor seemed to forget about Mixon’s existence on big plays. Overall, the Bengals faced third-and-1 or fourth-and-1 a total of FOUR times against the Rams and Mixon wasn’t on the field FOR ANY OF THEM. The Bengals running back averaged 4.8 yards per carry (15 rushes for 72 yards) and to not have him on the field for those key plays was simply inexcusable. The Bengals’ inability to convert a fourth-and-1 at the beginning of the game and a fourth-and-1 at the end was essentially what cost them the game. The failed fourth-and-1 in the first quarter set the Rams up with great field position and led to a quick L.A. touchdown.
- Not a great game for the officials. During the conference title games, we didn’t hear a lot about the officiating, but that definitely wasn’t the case on Sunday night. On the NFL‘s biggest stage, the officials stole the show in a bad way and the ugly calls went both ways. On Tee Higgins‘ 75-yard TD in the third quarter, the officials probably could have thrown a flag on Higgins for an offensive pass interference against Jalen Ramsey. On the other hand, Bengals linebacker Logan Wilson got called for defensive holding against Cooper Kupp on the Rams’ game-winning TD drive and it was a penalty that probably should not have been called because Wilson didn’t seem to do anything illegal. The Wilson penalty also probably shouldn’t have been called at all because the Rams clearly jumped offsides on the play (which you can see here). As a Bengals homer, I basically felt like both teams got a free touchdown that they probably shouldn’t have gotten and if you take those away, we’re right back where we started: The Bengals trailing by three with 1:25 left needing a TD to win or a FG to tie.
To listen to today’s episode — and to subscribe to the best daily NFL podcast out there — be sure to click here. If you want to see what it looks like for me to sulk for 35 straight minutes, then you can see that on the YouTube version of today’s episode by clicking here.
2. Cooper Kupp takes home MVP
With the Rams winning such a close game, there was definitely some debate about who the MVP was going to be, and in the end, the award ended up going to Kupp, who finished with eight catches for 92 yards and two touchdowns. Kupp got the award over Donald, who finished with two sacks.
Here’s a look at how Kupp won the award:
- Kupp comes up in the clutch. The Rams receiver basically clinched the award with his play on his team’s game-winning TD drive. With the Rams in need of some big plays, Kupp came through big time, touching the ball five times for 46 yards. Not only did he catch the game-winning touchdown, but he also had a huge 7-yard run on fourth-and-1. If Kupp had failed on the run, the Bengals likely win the game. Besides the run, Kupp had four catches for 39 yards on the final drive, including a 22-yard reception that moved the Rams from Cincinnati’s 46 down to the Bengals’ 24.
- Kupp joins elite company. Kupp becomes the eighth receiver in NFL history to take home the Super Bowl MVP while also becoming the second one to do it against the Bengals (Jerry Rice won the award in Super Bowl XXIII). The last receiver to take home the award was Julian Edelman, who won it in Super Bowl LIII against the Rams.
- Kupp finishes one of the greatest postseasons in NFL history. During the Rams’ run to the Super Bowl, Kupp caught 33 passes for 478 yards and six touchdowns to put an exclamation point on one of the most remarkable postseasons by any receiver in NFL history. Kupp’s receptions total was the most in NFL history for a single season, his yardage total was the second most and his touchdown total was tied for the second most. Kupp’s entire postseason was a performance for the ages.
To put Kupp’s overall season in perspective, he became just the second receiver to win the receiving triple crown, the Offensive Player of the Year and the Super Bowl MVP. The key difference here is that Rice won all three of those things over the course of his career while Kupp did it all in a single season.
Kupp’s MVP performance wouldn’t have been possible without Stafford, who threw for 283 yards and three touchdowns.
3. Rams roundup: Super Bowl win followed by marriage proposal and birth of baby; Aaron Donald might be mulling retirement
The Rams weren’t just celebrating their Super Bowl win on Sunday, several players also had some other big things to celebrate after the team’s 23-20 win over the Bengals.
Here’s a look at some of the things that went down for the Rams after the game:
- Van Jefferson’s wife has a baby. Jefferson’s wife, Samaria, didn’t want to miss the Super Bowl so she went even though she knew the baby might show up. The baby couldn’t wait for the game to end and about midway through, Samaria had to be taken to the hospital after going into labor. The good news is that not only did the baby came out healthy, but Jefferson quickly made it to the hospital after the game to meet his newborn. You can see a picture of Jefferson holding his new baby by clicking here.
- Taylor Rapp proposes. The Rams safety won’t be the only one in his family getting a ring. After earning a Super Bowl ring with a win over the Bengals, Rapp had an engagement ring waiting for his fiancée. Rapp popped the question on the field during the Rams’ postgame celebration and you can see the proposal by clicking here.
- Aaron Donald apparently thinking about retirement. Before the game, Rodney Harrison dropped a bomb on NBC saying that Donald might retire if the Rams won the Super Bowl. After the Rams’ win, Donald didn’t do much to quell those rumors, “I’m just in the moment right now,” Donald said. “I’m going to enjoy this with my teammates, my family. I’m just going to be in the moment and enjoy this today, or for a couple of days. This is a blessing.” That sounds like a guy who’s seriously considering retirement.
If Donald retires, the Rams are going to have a tough time repeating next season. Not only would they potentially be losing one of the best defensive players in NFL history, but they also have multiple free agents to deal with this offseason, including Beckham, Von Miller, Darious Williams and Sony Michel, among others.
4. 13 crazy facts about Super Bowl LVI
Every Sunday night, I get an email from our research department here at CBS Sports, and every Sunday, that email always includes some amazingly wild facts.
With that in mind, here are 13 crazy facts about Super Bowl LVI:
- Comeback kids. This was the fifth time in Super Bowl history that a team was trailing before scoring a TD to take a lead in the final two minutes. Two of those five wins have come against the Bengals (Super Bowl LVI and Super Bowl XXIII).
- Super Cooper. Kupp joins Joe Montana (1989) as the only two players in NFL history to earn Offensive Player of the Year and Super Bowl MVP in the same season. Kupp is also one of only three players ever to hit 2,000 scrimmage yards and score at least 20 total touchdowns in a season, including playoffs.
- Wisdom comes with age, even young age. With the win, Sean McVay became the youngest coach in NFL history to earn a Super Bowl victory. McVay (36 years and 20 days old) broke a record that was held by Mike Tomlin, who was 36 years and 323 days old when the Steelers won Super Bowl XLIII.
- Home sweet home. The Rams are just the second team in NFL history to win a Super Bowl in their home stadium, joining last year’s Buccaneers team. Before 2020, no team had ever pulled off that feat in NFL history.
- Sack king. Miller had two sacks in the game and now has multiple sacks in two different Super Bowls, joining former Giants player Justin Tuck as the only players in NFL history to pull off that feat.
- Sack party. Burrow got sacked seven times in the game, which is tied for the most ever in a Super Bowl. Teams are 0-4 in Super Bowl history when their quarterback gets sacked six or more times. Burrow got sacked a total of 19 times in the postseason, which is the single-season playoff record (The previous record was 14, which really puts into perspective how many times Burrow has been sacked over the past few weeks).
- Bengals connect on a long bomb. Burrow’s 75-yard TD pass to Higgins was the longest scoring throw the Super Bowl has seen in nearly 20 years. The last pass that was longer was an 85-yarder by Jake Delhomme to Muhsin Muhammad for the Panthers in Super Bowl XXXVIII.
- Joe Mixon with rare play. The Bengals running back became just the fifth non-quarterback in Super Bowl history to throw a TD pass. The last time it happened came when Trey Burton connected with Nick Foles on the “Philly Special” in Super Bowl LII.
- Rushing touchdowns go out the window. This game was just the fourth Super Bowl ever to feature exactly ZERO rushing touchdowns. In a twist, the last time it happened was the last time the Bengals were in the Super Bowl (Super Bowl XXIII).
- Rams rushing futility. With just 1.9 yards per rush, the Rams became the first winning team in Super Bowl history to average under 2 yards per rush. Before this year, four other teams had averaged under 2 yards per carry, but they all lost the game.
- Bengals rare scoring drought. After going up 20-13 on an Evan McPherson field goal in the third quarter, the Bengals went five straight possessions without scoring. That’s notable because they didn’t go five straight possessions without scoring a single time during the regular season (not including kneel downs).
- Turnovers didn’t lead to a win. The Bengals’ loss marked just the third time in Super Bowl history that a team won the turnover battle by at least two turnovers and DIDN’T win the game. The only other times it happened came in Super Bowl V (Colts over Cowboys) and Super Bowl XIV (Steelers over Rams).
- Bengals join sad losers list. With the loss, the Bengals are now one of just three teams in NFL history to lose three or more Super Bowls without a win (Vikings and Bills are the others). The Bengals’ three Super Bowl losses have come by a total of 12 points.
5. NFL QB drama: Carson Wentz could be out in Indy, Kyler Murray not happy with Cardinals
It’s not easy to steal any thunder away from the Super Bowl on Super Bowl Sunday, but the Colts and Cardinals managed to do that thanks to two huge reports that dropped before the game.
- Colts might dump Carson Wentz. According to ESPN.com, the Colts are likely going to trade or release Wentz before March 18. That’s the date when his $22 million salary for 2022 becomes fully guaranteed along with a $6.29 million roster bonus and it appears the Colts have no plans of paying either of those. If Wentz is released prior to March 18, the Colts will still have to pay him $15 million in base salary, which would be shocking development considering they had to give up a first-round pick to get him. Basically, it sounds like Wentz’s time in Indy is done after just one season, although it’s possible he could end up back with them at a cheaper rate if the Colts can’t find any trade takers.
- Kyler Murray frustrated with Cardinals. The drama between the Cardinals and Kyler Murray started last week when the QB scrubbed his Instagram account of the team and it seems that things might actually be getting worse. According to ESPN.com, Murray “is frustrated with the franchise, was embarrassed by the team’s 34-11 playoff loss to the Los Angeles Rams and thinks he has been made the scapegoat.” Despite the offseason drama, it seems the Cards have no plans of letting their franchise QB go anywhere.
- Packers ready to go all-in to keep Aaron Rodgers. The Packers are so intent on keeping Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay that they’re ready to make him the highest-paid QB in the NFL. According to NFL.com, the Packers “are willing to offer Rodgers a deal that makes him the highest-paid QB in the NFL on a per-year basis — likely a two-year pact worth more than $45 million annually, with voidable years on the back end to make it work with the cap.” If money talks, then Rodgers will definitely be returning to Green Bay, but if there’s more to the situation, then it’s definitely still possible that he’s played his final down with the Packers.
In non-quarterback news, Adrian Peterson was arrested over the weekend and is now facing a felony domestic violence charge after an incident at LAX. For more details on that situation, be sure to click here.
6. Two NFL owners could be in hot water
The NFL almost never forces owners to sell their teams, but that could potentially happen in two different situations this offseason.
Here’s a look at each situation:
- Washington owner Daniel Snyder. With Snyder facing more accusations of sexual harassment, it seems there is now a sense “among ownership, that the time has come for Dan Snyder to move on,” according to Pro Football Talk. As Roger Goodell mentioned last week, an NFL owner can be voted out if 24 of the 31 other owners vote to get rid of him and based on the negative publicity Snyder has been bringing to the NFL, it seems the other owners might be finally getting tired of his act. For more details on the Snyder situation, be sure to click here.
- Dolphins owner Stephen Ross almost certainly gone if Brian Flores’ accusations pan out. When Flores filed his lawsuit in late January, he accused Ross of offering him money to lose games. The NFL is now investigating Ross and if the league finds any merit to the accusations, Ross will almost certainly be forced to sell the team, according to NFL.com. Ross has denied the accusations, so it will be interesting to see how this all plays out. Paying a coach to lose calls into the question the integrity of the game and that’s the last thing the NFL wants with gambling money set to pour in over the next few years.
If Snyder and Ross were both forced out, that means we could see a situation where we have three new NFL owners over a 12-18-month period. The Broncos are expected to be sold later this year and if you add that on top of a potential Commanders or Dolphins sale, that means 9.4% of the teams in the league could change hands in the near future. Ross and Snyder will clearly do everything in their power to hold on to their teams, but the fact that they might not have a choice in the situation tells you how serious things are right now.
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