The Best and Worst Moments of the 2022 Super Bowl

Through the previous few weeks, professional soccer, one of many nation’s remaining shared media spectacles, was its vibrant, terrible, all-consuming self. First, there was a string of charming playoff video games, full of untamed stuff: mind-boggling lead modifications, impossible-to-tackle quarterbacks, offenses whipping up and down the sector and scoring freely till the ultimate seconds, overtimes, smaller males carried off on the shoulders of larger males in triumph.

However the competitors on the sector is barely a part of what accounts for soccer’s maintain on the nationwide psyche. The two-week interregnum between the convention championships and the Super Bowl introduced the remainder of the drama. Tom Brady, a quarterback lengthy victorious towards time, introduced his retirement—although he by no means uttered the “R” phrase, and made it sound extra like a dating-show breakup, writing, “I am not going to make that competitive commitment anymore.” (There was additionally the awkwardness of not mentioning his ex, Invoice Belichick.) Brian Flores, the profitable but lately fired head coach of the Miami Dolphins, filed a civil suit towards the N.F.L., alleging that it discriminates towards Black candidates for head-coaching and government jobs. Within the criticism, Flores additionally claimed that the Dolphins’ proprietor, Stephen Ross, had provided him 100 thousand {dollars} for every sport that the team lost in 2019, in an effort to tank the Dolphins’ report and qualify for a greater draft decide. (Ross has denied this.) The Washington Soccer Staff, previously the Redskins, earlier than that slur lastly turned untenable, introduced its new title: the Commanders. The subsequent day, a former workforce worker alleged that she had been sexually harassed by Washington’s proprietor, Daniel Snyder. (A yr in the past, after an investigation of different harassment allegations introduced towards the workforce, the N.F.L. declared that Washington ran a “highly unprofessional” office; Snyder described the newest declare towards him as “outright lies.”) Just a few days later, Aaron Rodgers, the self-described “critical thinker” who was fined earlier this season for violating the league’s COVID protocols, was named the league’s Most Worthwhile Participant.

The lawsuit and the office allegations would quantity to a disaster for one more sports activities league or main company. Not so, although, for the N.F.L., which continues to revenue regardless of scandal and outrage and controversy. Nonetheless, there was certainly some reduction at league HQ with the arrival of the Super Bowl, a sport that followers—and, extra necessary, gamblers—could possibly be fairly sure that neither the Los Angeles Rams nor the Cincinnati Bengals could be attempting to lose on objective.

The Rams gained it on Sunday, contained in the multibillion-dollar SoFi Stadium, in Inglewood, California, the place the climate each exterior and in appeared heat, dry, and usually enviable from again East. The sport adopted soccer’s particular recipe—even a plodding sport typically turns turbocharged on the finish, with defenses taking part in tender and on their heels, and offenses seemingly invigorated by the point constraints. After the Rams marched down the sector for the go-ahead landing, with a minute and twenty-five seconds left within the fourth quarter, the Bengals’ offense rapidly drove the opposite approach, and appeared poised to a minimum of get inside vary of a game-tying discipline aim. As a substitute, the drive stalled out, and ended on a fourth and one at midfield, when the Bengals’ quarterback Joe Burrow (the second coming of Joe Namath, we had been advised final week) was compelled to flip the ball meekly ahead as he was hit by the Rams defensive deal with Aaron Donald. It was a becoming strategy to win: Donald has performed all eight of his professional seasons with the Rams, has barely missed a sport, and is the workforce’s all-time sacks chief. The Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford, who spent years placing up huge numbers for largely dropping groups in Detroit earlier than being traded to L.A., within the low season, was a veteran redeemed. As he took a knee to expire the clock, the group went—properly, not precisely wild.

Till final season, when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers did it, no workforce had ever performed in a Super Bowl at residence. This yr, thanks to a different stroke of scheduling success, the Rams had been hosts. But since transferring again to Southern California, from St. Louis, in 2016, Rams residence video games are likely to really feel lower than homey, with a lot of the group typically decked out within the opposing workforce’s colours. It was that approach within the N.F.C. championship sport, towards the San Francisco 49ers, and so it was once more on Sunday, with a wash of Bengals orange within the stands. Large performs by each groups had been met with what might greatest be described as the identical obscure noise, pleasure and unhappiness blended collectively. The solely time that the group sounded uniformly completely satisfied was throughout the terrific halftime present. In the meantime, like some divorced billionaire, the Rams, winners now by all the favored definitions, appeared a bit of lonely of their gleaming new palace.

Talking of lonely wealthy individuals, this yr’s tv commercials featured the customary parade of stars. However some model pairings sparked extra questions on celeb motivation than they did client curiosity. Scarlett Johansson and Colin Jost gave the impression to be fulfilling a contractual little bit of cute coupledom for Amazon. Neither Paul Rudd nor Seth Rogen, who had been hawking Lay’s, appear to be they eat potato chips anymore. And does Larry David, king of the syndication checks, really want crypto cash? Chevy’s Meadow and A.J. reunion, which prolonged the universe of “The Sopranos” by one other fifteen years, discovered a receptive viewers on Twitter, if solely as a result of it introduced new information to bear on the great debate about the show’s finale. Budweiser used a cute dog and a wounded Clydesdale to attempt to say one thing in regards to the varied messes of the second—“In the home of the brave, down never means out”—though, at this level, each a part of that line would imply very various things to completely different individuals. Or nothing to anybody. The flashiest advert of the evening additionally provided probably the most alluring escapism: a cinematic Michelob Ultra spot set at a bowling alley, with a vibe that combined “The Big Lebowski,” “Dazed and Confused,” and “Jackie Brown.” It starred a handful of well-known athletes, and ended with Serena Williams in Turturro purple doing her greatest Pam Grier strut. It’s protected to say we’d quite be there than wherever right here at the moment is.

The Rams’ vast receiver Cooper Kupp, who caught the game-winning landing, was named the sport’s most dear participant. Through the postgame ceremony, he stated, “I don’t feel deserving of this.” Humility and graciousness—as admirable as his immense expertise, however a bit dissonant for the N.F.L. Not fairly the fitting observe. The extra becoming face of this Super Bowl might have been the participant who was arguably the least invaluable. Close to the top of the primary half, the Bengals’ cornerback Vernon Hargreaves, who was inactive for the sport, was flagged for an unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty after he ran onto the sector, carrying sandals and a hoodie, to rejoice an interception along with his teammates and mug for the digicam. The broadcast later confirmed him again on the bench, with a sheepish look. He had been the star of a superbly apt soccer second—out of some mixture of exuberance, shamelessness, and obliviousness, there he was, guidelines and good style be damned, proper within the middle of issues. The American approach.

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