3 penalties on 3 straight plays in final minutes cost Cincy

Feb 13, 2022, 5:37 AM | Updated: 8:58 pm
Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp (10) eyes a touchdown pass in the end zone as Cincinnati...

Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp (10) eyes a touchdown pass in the end zone as Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Eli Apple (20) attempts to tackle during the second half of the NFL Super Bowl 56 football game, Sunday, Feb. 13, 2022, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

(AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

INGLEWOOD, Calif. (AP) — A sea of yellow flags flew onto the field in the final two minutes with the Super Bowl at stake.

After the Los Angeles Rams and Cincinnati Bengals were flagged only twice in the first 58 minutes, penalties on three consecutive plays helped determine a champion.

Matthew Stafford tossed a 1-yard touchdown pass to Cooper Kupp for the go-ahead score following three straight penalties on Cincinnati’s defense, and the Rams’ defense held on for a 23-20 victory Sunday.

“Crunch time, they got flag happy and it put us in a bad situation,” Bengals cornerback Mike Hilton said. “But we can’t blame it on them. We just have to find ways to win.”

The Bengals were the second-least penalized team in the league and had the fewest penalty yards.

But when it mattered most, the calls went against them.

“We pride ourselves on being a very disciplined team and that was a very, very undisciplined moment and it is frustrating,” Bengals coach Zac Taylor said.

The barrage of flags started on third down from the 8 with 1:47 left when Stafford’s pass to Kupp was incomplete. However, a questionable holding call on Bengals linebacker Logan Wilson gave the Rams a first down at the 4.

“They got down to the red zone on third down and Logan made a hell of a play I thought on Cooper Kupp and the penalty flag comes throwing out,” Bengals cornerback Chidobe Awuzie said. “Obviously, I’m not a ref, I don’t know what happened on that play.”

On the next play, Stafford tossed a 4-yard TD pass to Kupp but the play was nullified by offsetting penalties. Rams right tackle Rob Havenstein held and Bengals safety Vonn Bell was called for unnecessary roughness for a hard hit on Kupp.

“Well, there’s some things that are out of our control. Just a couple judgment calls there,” Bengals defensive end Trey Hendrickson said.

Stafford threw incomplete to Kupp in the end zone on the next play, but a pass interference on Eli Apple put the ball at the 1.

“Both (defensive backs) on both sides were grabbing, a little pull here and there and the first three quarters they were fine with it,” Hilton said. “It’s part of the game. We can’t control if they are going to call it or not.”

After Stafford got stuffed on a sneak, he tossed a 1-yard TD pass to Kupp.

Joe Burrow had 1:25 to lead Cincinnati into field-goal range, but the Bengals failed on three attempts to get 1 yard from the Rams 49.

For most of the game, the officials let the teams play.

“They should have just let it play out how they were doing the whole game,” Bengals wide receiver Tyler Boyd said.

It appeared they even missed a penalty that would’ve negated Burrow’s 75-yard TD pass to Tee Higgins on the first play of the second half. Higgins beat Jalen Ramsey to give the Bengals a 17-13 lead, but he got away with grabbing the All-Pro cornerback’s facemask and spinning his head around before making the catch.

“Our rule is that if there is a grab and twist and turn, there’s enough for a foul. If there’s just a rake across the facemask, where there’s not a twist and turn even if there’s a grab, there is no foul,” referee Ronald Torbert told a pool reporter. “The officials did not see any contact that rose to the level of a foul for a 15-yard facemask.”

The turning point for Los Angeles came after falling behind 20-13. The Rams and their ferocious defensive line sacked Burrow four times over the next 11 plays.

Burrow went down seven times, six in the second half. Aaron Donald and Von Miller each had two sacks.

“They have a really good front,” Burrow said. “Aaron Donald, Von Miller, Leonard Floyd are three of the best payers in the league. We expected pressure and they did a good job.”


Follow Rob Maaddi on Twitter at https://twitter.com/robmaaddi and his work can be found at https://apnews.com/search/robmaaddi


More AP NFL coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


New Orleans Pelicans power forward Zion Williamson (1) jokes with David Griffin, executive vice pre...
Associated Press

For Zion, Kawhi, Murray and more, the wait is finally over

Kawhi Leonard was in the Los Angeles Clippers’ facility on Monday. That wasn’t exactly a surprise development. The news was his attire. He was wearing a basketball uniform. Finally. Welcome back, Kawhi. You too, Denver’s Jamal Murray, Brooklyn’s Ben Simmons, New Orleans’ Zion Williamson, the Clippers’ John Wall and plenty of others around the NBA. […]
13 hours ago
FILE - Driver Jimmie Johnson poses in front of a street sign after the street was named for him out...
Associated Press

Column: Johnson will chase challenges long into retirement

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — There is a scene in Jimmie Johnson’s coffee table book “One More Lap” in which the seven-time NASCAR champion and future Hall of Famer gives a dramatic reading of an excerpt from a biography of the late journalist Hunter S. Thompson. The author, Ivan Shaw, notes that Johnson finishes reading aloud […]
13 hours ago
Georgia Tech head coach Geoff Collins reacts on the sideline after a play during the first half of ...
Associated Press

Ga Tech fires Geoff Collins in 4th season with 10-28 mark

ATLANTA (AP) — Geoff Collins is out as Georgia Tech’s football coach, fired Monday in the midst of his fourth season after failing to make headway with a brash plan to turn the Yellow Jackets into a national powerhouse through branding and promoting Atlanta’s big-city culture. Collins was officially dumped during a meeting of the […]
2 days ago
FILE - Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver gestures to Indiana Pacers' Danny Granger after Granger mis...
Associated Press

Minus owner Sarver, Suns return for another run at NBA title

PHOENIX (AP) — All-Stars Devin Booker and Chris Paul, along with freshly paid Deandre Ayton and coach Monty Williams, are back together for another run at an elusive NBA title. One man who apparently won’t be along on the journey — team owner Robert Sarver. The Suns met in downtown Phoenix on Monday for media […]
2 days ago
University of Kentucky men's basketball head coach John Calipari stands on the sidelines during the...
Associated Press

Kentucky moves scrimmage to E. Kentucky for flood relief

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky will play its annual Blue-White men’s basketball scrimmage in eastern Kentucky to benefit victims of the devastating summer floods. The school announced that the Oct. 22 event at Appalachian Wireless Arena in Pikeville will feature a pregame Fan Fest. Ticket proceeds will go through Team Eastern Kentucky Flood Relief. Wildcat […]
2 days ago
Christian Pulisic follows the game from the bench during the international friendly soccer match be...
Associated Press

US coach Berhalter: ‘We got our butts kicked’ by Japan

Christian Pulisic and Ricardo Pepi will join the U.S. starting lineup for the Americans’ last World Cup warmup against Saudi Arabia on Tuesday night after coach Gregg Berhalter admitted “we got our butts kicked” by Japan last week. The 14th-ranked U.S. failed to get a single shot on target in Friday’s 2-0 defeat to No […]
2 days ago
3 penalties on 3 straight plays in final minutes cost Cincy