Monday, October 2, 2023

Super Bowl 2022: Rams’ false start penalty upstaged by Bengals’ defensive holding on game-deciding drive

Super Bowl LVI wasn’t short of drama on the winning drive, as Matthew Stafford led the Los Angeles Rams on a 15-play, 79-yard scoring drive — capped by a 1-yard pass to Cooper Kupp in the end zone with 1:25 left to give Los Angeles a thrilling 23-20 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals

While Stafford will be remembered for his heroics and changing his legacy, his winning drive wasn’t short of controversy. The Bengals were called for a defensive holding as the Rams were facing a third-and-goal on Cincinnati’s 8-yard line with 1:47 to play. The pass was incomplete, yet Bengals linebacker Logan Wilson was called for the defensive holding on the incomplete pass to Kupp. 

The penalty gave the Rams an automatic first down, but there was a false start that wasn’t called on the play — one that would have nullified Wilson’s penalty because it never would have happened.

Here was the penalty on Wilson in question, one the Bengals linebacker didn’t exactly agree with. 

“Cooper tried to push off on me and I thought I made a good play on the ball,” Wilson said after the game. “But the refs saw otherwise. It’s a tough call.”

The officials threw flags on three straight plays, led by the questionable defensive holding call on Wilson. Prior to that call, the Rams and Bengals combined for four penalties throughout the night. 

After the Wilson hold, two flags were called on the Rams and Bengals that nullified a touchdown pass from Stafford to Kupp. Rob Havenstein’s offensive holding penalty was canceled out by Vonn Bell’s unnecessary roughness penalty. On the next play, a pass interference by Eli Apple on Kupp gave the Rams a first-and-goal at the 1-yard line. 

Stafford found Kupp for the game-winning touchdown on the next play, capping a Super Bowl-winning drive filled with penalties inside the 10-yard line. There were no excuses for Bengals head coach Zac Taylor despite the controversy surrounding the Super Bowl. 

“I just want to give credit to the Rams,” Taylor said. “They won this game.”

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