Cincinnati Bengals: Super Bowl Loss Spoils Ending to Special Season
The Bengals had one of the best seasons in franchise history, but losing Super Bowl LVI left them dejected and more determined to win a Lombardi Trophy.
Joe Burrow, who led Cincinnati to the AFC title in just his second year as the franchise quarterback, apologized to Bengals fans on Twitter following the Rams' 23-20 victory.
"I'd like to think we'll be back in this situation multiple times over the course of the next few years," Burrow said via Judy Battista of NFL.com. "We take this and let it fuel you for the rest of our careers."
Cincinnati is young and talented, but getting to the Super Bowl is always difficult. The 2018 New England Patriots are the only team in the last 20 years to win the Super Bowl the season after losing it. Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino was in his second year like Burrow when he led the Dolphins to Super Bowl XIX in 1985, but he never returned to the big game after losing to San Francisco.
Protecting Burrow better will be an offseason point of emphasis for the Bengals. He was sacked seven times in the Super Bowl, 19 times in the postseason and 51 times during the regular season, more than any NFL quarterback.
Burrow completed 22 of 33 passes for 263 yards and one touchdown, but the Rams' pass rush led by Von Miller and Aaron Donald took over down the stretch, and the Bengals were shutout over the game's final 25 minutes.
Burrow's toughness is admired by his teammates, and he stayed in the game after clutching his knee following a fourth-quarter hit by Miller. But the pain of losing the Super Bowl felt worse to Burrow than his knee. After winning just four games in 2020, the Bengals tasted success this year, and now the challenge is to sustain it.
"We just have to continue to build and stick together and stay connected as a team," wide receiver Tyler Boyd said via Ben Baby of ESPN.com. "As long as we do that then we will continue to prosper."
Cleveland Browns: Odell Beckham Delivers After Fallout With Browns
After being released by the Browns midseason amid criticism and controversy, Odell Beckham Jr. got his mojo back with the Rams.
Watching Beckham display his talents during the postseason had to be hard for many Browns fans to take after his controversial 2 ½ seasons with Cleveland.
Beckham caught two passes for 52 yards and a touchdown in Super Bowl LVI before leaving the game with a second-quarter knee injury. During the Rams' four-game playoff run, Beckham caught 21 passes for 288 yards and two touchdowns, resurrecting his career and becoming a major piece in the Rams' offense.
Beckham was an awkward fit with the Browns, but a perfect fit for the Rams.
Some pundits have already predicted the Browns will draft a receiver early, including ESPN’s Mel Kiper, who likes Garrett Wilson of Ohio State for Cleveland with the 13th pick.
Beckham's breakup with the Browns was nasty. Beckham's father posted videos on social media of Baker Mayfield missing opportunities to target Beckham when he was open. Beckham never practiced with the Browns again, and he was released on Nov. 8 before signing with the Rams.
Browns General Manager Andrew Berry said after the season that Cleveland planned to move forward with Mayfield as its starting quarterback. Thrilled to be with the Rams, Beckham told reporters during Super Bowl week that he had not spoken to Mayfield since leaving the Browns.
"I'm sure that conversation will be had at some point," Beckham said via Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal.
Pittsburgh Steelers: John Spytek Is Ninth Candidate to Interview for General Manager
The Steelers have reportedly added a ninth name to their general manager search.
John Spytek, who is Tampa Bay's vice president of player personnel, will interview with the Steelers, according to Tom Pelissero of NFL Network.
Syptek has been with the Buccaneers for six seasons and has 18 years of NFL experience. The Steelers are looking for their next general manager to replace Kevin Colbert, who will retire after the draft.
Pittsburgh is casting a wide search and has already interviewed Steelers front office executives Brandon Hunt and Omar Khan, Morocco Brown and Ed Dodds of the Colts, Ryan Cowden of the Titans, ESPN analyst Louis Riddick, John Wojciechowski of the Packers and JoJo Wooden of the Chargers.
Pittsburgh's next general manager will take over during a crucial time as the franchise transitions to life without Ben Roethlisberger, who announced his retirement after 18 seasons.