3 penalties on 3 straight plays in final minutes cost Cincy

Published 10:45 pm Sunday, February 13, 2022

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.

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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.

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.

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.

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 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.

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.