I can’t say I was looking forward to this Enemy Reaction, but I’m a man of my word and the Los Angeles Rams can have their day in the spotlight. The Cincinnati Bengals were on the cusp of their first Super Bowl victory, but Cooper Kupp and Aaron Donald were determined to make sure that didn’t happen. Cincinnati’s first Super Bowl loss was by 5 points, then by 4 in the rematch with the San Francisco 49ers, and now they lost by 3. They’re getting closer, but not close enough.
Now while you may be dreading this as much as I am, I took a look over at the Niners Nation comments section and can confirm that even though we had the common goal of wanting the Rams to lose, they are still the kings of the meltdown.
Bengals fail on 4th and 1 (0-0)
Odell Beckham Jr catches game’s opening touchdown (7-0 LAR)
Ja’Marr Chase beats Jalen Ramsey, makes one-handed catch that leads to field goal (7-3 LAR)
Eli Apple bites on play-action, leaving Cooper Kupp wide open for touchdown (13-3 LAR)
Joe Mixon throws touchdown to Tee Higgins (13-10 LAR)
Jessie Bates picks off Matthew Stafford in the end zone (13-10 LAR)
Tee Higgins gets away with OPI on Jalen Ramey, scores 75-yard touchdown (17-13 CIN)
Chidobe Awuzie picks off Matthew Stafford, resulting in Bengals field goal (20-13 CIN)
...Uh the game isn’t over yet (20-16 CIN)
Tyler Boyd has critical drop at worst possible time (20-16 CIN)
Missed false start, sketchy hold gift the Rams a new set of downs (20-16 CIN)
The defensive holding penalty against Cincinnati never should have happened anyway because the officials didn’t call an obvious false start on the entire offensive line. pic.twitter.com/U1itLG7RPA— Michael Hurley (@michaelFhurley) February 14, 2022
Logan Wilson was in great position refs almost never call this plus with the way they let them play the entire game you can’t just switch up when the entire game is on the line on this one play u have to stay true pic.twitter.com/tAljNpDgvJ— Lil ️ey ️ey (@CP3PO2) February 14, 2022
Cooper Kupp beats Eli Apple for the go-ahead touchdown (23-20 LAR)
Bengals fail on 4th and 1 (23-20 LAR Final)
As called on Bengals radio: pic.twitter.com/ZM43RWzwwj— Timothy Burke (@bubbaprog) February 14, 2022
Post-Game: Reactions from....
Post-Game: Matthew Stafford is LA’s comeback kid (Bret Stuter, Ramblin’ Fan)
There are quarterbacks who simply cannot find a way to win if they are behind and time is running out in the game. To that group, add those additional quarterbacks who crack a bit under pressure, when the intensity is elevated, when the head is turned up, and with all eyes upon him, who struggle to lead the team to a game-winning drive in posted season.
Now add to that group all of the quarterbacks in the NFL who tried, and failed, to come back from a deficit to win a Super Bowl. In the end, you will have quite the list of NFL quarterbacks, and some of them are quite famous.
But I can guarantee that LA Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford is not one of them.
If there were any doubts about the quality of Matthew Stafford, particularly his ability to win the Big Game, those doubts can be put to rest. Instead, the Rams must work very hard to create a far more balanced offense that is far less dependent upon Stafford setting single-season passing records, and more about delivering the type of offense that can control the clock to close out the game as well.
Post-Game: Need to improve Bengals’ protection of Joe Burrow more glaring than ever (Jay Morrison, The Athletic’s Bengals beat)
Picking 31st isn’t likely to land the Bengals one of the top tackles in the draft, but they could end up with one of the best centers or guards. And they have the most cap space among this year’s playoff teams and the fifth most overall, meaning they can be in the mix for a top free-agent tackle if they want to be.
If the sting of losing the Super Bowl and knowing the offensive line was the biggest reason why isn’t enough to force a rebuild, watching Burrow limp off the field, and off the podium, should be.
The Bengals flirted with fire all year long and didn’t truly get burned until the final 30 minutes of the Super Bowl, mostly because Burrow was icy enough to freeze the flames.
That they even got to the Super Bowl with a subpar line is remarkable.
Imagining what can happen when the line is fixed and debating the best ways to go about it will be the narratives this spring.
Even though the unpredictability of the 2021 season brightened a lot of lives in Cincinnati and brought the Bengals back to respectability, protecting the franchise’s top asset inside a halo of hope isn’t sustainable.
And with that, Enemy Reaction is done for the 2021 NFL season. I wish I could’ve done more for Seahawks games but, you know, they didn’t win very often. Here’s to that being an anomaly and not a sign of things to come in 2022!
Thanks for reading and go ‘Hawks!