Bengals’ 2 big plays in 22 seconds not enough against Rams


By TERESA M. WALKER - AP Pro Football Writer



Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Chidobe Awuzie (22) intercepts the ball against Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Ben Skowronek (18) during the second half of the NFL Super Bowl 56 football game Sunday, Feb. 13, 2022, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Chidobe Awuzie (22) intercepts the ball against Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Ben Skowronek (18) during the second half of the NFL Super Bowl 56 football game Sunday, Feb. 13, 2022, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)


INGLEWOOD, Calif. (AP) — The Cincinnati Bengals got their two biggest plays before everybody got back into their seats after the Super Bowl 56 halftime show.

Blink.

Joe Burrow found Tee Higgins for a 75-yard touchdown on the Bengals’ first play of the third quarter.

Following an extra point and a kick return, blink again. Bengals cornerback Chidobe Awuzie grabbed a ball that bounced off Rams wide receiver Ben Skowronek for Cincinnati’s second interception of the game to set up rookie Evan McPherson’s second field goal of the game.

All in the span of 22 seconds.

Then little else Sunday, and now the Bengals go back to Cincinnati from its first Super Bowl since the 1988 season still looking for its first championship after a 23-20 loss to the Los Angeles Rams.

Burrow moved to his right and then up before throwing deep to Higgins, who grabbed Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey’s face mask and pushed off to create separation for the catch. Higgins then ran to the end zone to finish off the 75-yard TD for a 17-13 lead at 14:48.

Ten seconds later, Awuzie grabbed the ball that bounced off Skowroneck. But the Bengals had to settle for a second field goal.

After that, Burrow had plenty of chances along with Offensive Rookie of the Year Ja’Marr Chase to pad what was a 20-13 lead. But the Bengals punted four times with two three-and-outs, and Cincinnati gave up five sacks in the third quarter alone.

The Bengals had 1:25 left and two timeouts remaining with a chance to at least force overtime with McPherson, who tied Adam Vinatieri’s NFL postseason record with his 14th field goal in these playoffs. Burrow got the Bengals to midfield with a quick pass to Chase, the another to Tyler Boyd.

Then Burrow, the quarterback who came in 7-0 in playoff games in college and the NFL combined, threw the ball away on second-and-1. A run by Samaje Perine got nothing, then Burrow tried to escape Aaron Donald with a pass that fell harmlessly to the turf at SoFi stadium to start the Rams’ celebration.

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Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Chidobe Awuzie (22) intercepts the ball against Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Ben Skowronek (18) during the second half of the NFL Super Bowl 56 football game Sunday, Feb. 13, 2022, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
https://www.wnewsj.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2022/02/web1_128177786-492e9c2e5c194572a007cdd3beafc74d.jpgCincinnati Bengals cornerback Chidobe Awuzie (22) intercepts the ball against Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Ben Skowronek (18) during the second half of the NFL Super Bowl 56 football game Sunday, Feb. 13, 2022, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

By TERESA M. WALKER

AP Pro Football Writer