The Super Bowl Stage

January 31, 2022

By: Carlos Alvarez

Good Morning,

The stage is set for Super Bowl LVI, and it features two teams with quarterbacks making their first appearances. Both the Bengals and Rams needed double-digit comebacks to punch their tickets, and now begins the two-week media circus leading up to the big one.

Letter Rip!



The Super Bowl Stage is Set


Bengals & Rams Make Double-Digit Comebacks, Punch Tickets to Super Bowl LVI


The Super Bowl LVI stage is officially set! It’s Bengals-Rams for the Lombardi Trophy after a wild Sunday in the Championship rounds. Cincinnati stunned the Chiefs with a comeback and an overtime win. The Rams used a comeback to top the 49ers in another three-point victory. And for the second straight year — and the second time ever — a team will play in the Super Bowl hosted in their home city. Wild. Here’s how we got here:


AFC: Bengals def. Chiefs (27-24, OT)

It had been 30 years since the Bengals won a playoff game and 34 years since they went to the Super Bowl, but second-year QB Joe Burrow has ended the drought. The Bengals trailed the Chiefs 21-3 in the first half at Kansas City before Burrow engineered a comeback. Cincy scored 21 unanswered to take a 24-21 lead, but Chiefs’ kicker Harrison Butker buried a 44-yarder to send it into overtime. The Chiefs won the coin toss in OT, but QB Patrick Mahomes threw an interception on the opening possession. Burrow and the Bengals marched down to set up a 32-yard chip-shot for kicker Evan McPherson — the hero of the Divisional Round. He drilled it. Cincinnati is Super Bowl bound for the first time since 1988.


Top Performers

QB Joe Burrow (CIN): 23/38, 250 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT

QB Patrick Mahomes (KC): 26/39, 275 yards, 3 TDs, 2 INTs

RB Joe Mixon (CIN): 24 touches, 115 yards

TE Travis Kelce (KC): 10 receptions, 95 yards, 1 TD

WR Tee Higgins (CIN): 6 receptions, 103 yards

K Evan McPherson (CIN): 4/4, Long: 52 yards


NFC: Rams def. 49ers (20-17)

The second game of Championship Sunday featured another double-digit comeback, this time by the home team. The 49ers jumped out to a 17-7 lead through three quarters, but the Rams stepped it up in the 4th. The duo of QB Matthew Stafford and WR Cooper Kupp connected for their second touchdown to pull the game within a field goal. After a quick stop, the Rams set up the game-tying kick with less than seven minutes to play. Another defensive stop led to a three-and-out with great field position for L.A., and Matt Gay’s go-ahead field goal from 40 yards put the Rams in front with 1:46 to play. On San Francisco’s final possession, they ran two plays for negative-3 yards before QB Jimmy Garoppolo was picked off by Travian Howard. Ball game, Rams. It’s Stafford’s first trip to the Super Bowl, and L.A. will host SBLVI at SoFi Stadium.


Top Performers

QB Matthew Stafford (LAR): 31/45, 337 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT

QB Jimmy Garoppolo (SF): 16/30, 232 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT

WR Cooper Kupp (LAR): 11 receptions, 142 yards, 2 TDs

WR Odell Beckham Jr. (LAR):  9 receptions, 113 yards

WR Deebo Samuel (SF): 11 touches, 98 yards, 1 TD


Super Bowl LIV

Bengals vs. Rams

Sunday, Feb. 13 (6:00 pm ET)


Additional Storylines

ESPN: Sportsbooks Install Rams as 3.5-Point Favorites in SBLVI

B/R: Joe Burrow’s Superstar Status Cemented in Historic AFC Championship Comeback

SI: Conference Championship Takeaways: Rams Claw Back, Burrow Magic, Mahomes Disappears



Nadal Wins 21st Slam


(6) Rafael Nadal Comes Back From 2 Sets Down to Win Australian Open


Things looked bleak for Rafael Nadal in the opening two sets of the Australian Open final against Daniil Medvedev on Sunday morning, but the record-setting 21st slam was just getting a proper setup. Nadal rallied from two sets down to stun Medvedev in a five-set thriller. The Aussie Open victory brought Nadal his 21st major title, breaking the tie with Novak Djokovic (20) and Roger Federer (20) for the most all-time in men’s tennis.


The Final: Medvedev delivered 23 aces to Nadal’s 3 in what appeared to be a runaway for the Russian, but Nadal gained his composure and buried Medvedev early in sets 3 and 4. The fifth and final set went back and forth until Rafa stretched the lead and collapsed in jubilation.


\”It has been one of the most emotional matches in my tennis career and to share the court with [Medvedev] was an honor. I don\’t even know what to say, guys, for me it\’s just amazing.” — Rafael Nadal



(6) R. Nadal def. (2) D. Medvedev (2-6, 6-7, 6-4, 6-4, 7-5)


Additional Storylines

The Guardian: Rafael Nadal’s 21st Grand Slam Salute — In Pictures

NY Times: Rafael Nadal Wins the Australian Open, His 21st Grand Slam Title

SI: Rafael Nadal Breaks Down On Court After Grueling Five-Set Australian Open Final



Barty Brings Aussie Title Home


(1) Ash Barty Makes History as First Australian to Win Aussie Open in 43 Years


Saturday morning’s women’s finale was another record-breaker down under. The hometown hero, Ashleigh Barty, struck down challenger Danielle Collins in straight sets to claim her first Australian Open crown in Melbourne, just down the Gold Coast from her birthplace in Queensland. Australia had gone 43 years without a singles winner that hailed from the country itself. The last was Chris O’Neil in 1979. At 25 years old, Barty dominated the tournament and never dropped a set from Day 1 to Day 14. She’s now won three grand slams and three different majors — French Open, Wimbledon and Australian Open.


The Final: Barty smashed Collins with her serving efficiency, registering a 10-1 advantage in aces. Collins forced Set 2 into a tiebreaker, but four unforced errors allowed Barty to capitalize and capture the title.


\”I\’m a fortunate and lucky girl to have so much love in my corner, we started together right from the start… This is a dream come true for me and I am so proud to be an Aussie.” — Ash Barty



(1) A. Barty def. (27) D. Collins (6-3, 7-6)


Additional Storylines

ESPN: Aussie Ash Barty Defeats American Danielle Collins to Australian Open

WTA: Champions Corner: Barty Eyes the Next Chapter After ‘Full-Circle’ Australian Open Win



Tom Brady\’s Retirement Pump-Fake


After 22 Seasons & 7 Super Bowl Rings, Tom Brady Reportedly Retires From Football… Or Does He?


It’s finally over… Or is it? Tom Brady terrorized the NFL for more than two decades with the most historic career any player in football — or potentially any sport — has ever seen. The 44-year-old quarterback is reportedly retiring from the game, leaving with seven Super Bowl rings, including six with the Patriots and one with the Buccaneers. Although Brady has yet to make his retirement official, numerous reports surfaced on Saturday.


Tom Brady’s Career (By the Numbers)

22 Seasons

7 Super Bowl Rings (1st All-Time)

5 Super Bowl MVPs (1st All-Time)

3 NFL MVPs (T-2nd All-Time)

243 Wins (1st All-Time)

624 Passing TDs (1st All-Time)

84,520 Passing Yards (1st All-Time)

35 Playoff Wins (1st All-Time)


Additional Storylines

ESPN+: The Limitless Life of Tom Brady

SI: A Timeline of What’s Happened Since Adam Schefter Reported Brady’s Retirement

Yahoo! Sports: Tom Brady Reportedly Retiring, But Nothing Official Yet

USA Today: Who Will be the Next Tom Brady? Probably No One, But These 7 QBs Have a Shot



\"🏀\" NBA: Suns Extend Latest Streak to 10

The Phoenix Suns are on another heater. Sunday’s victory over the Spurs (115-110) was their 10th straight, marking their second double-digit win streak of the season. Chris Paul had 20 points and 19 assists in the win, and Phoenix is the first team to 40 wins (40-9).


\"🏒\" NHL: Avalanche Nab 10th in a Row

The Colorado Avalanche are the NHL’s hottest team after their tenth straight win and 18th straight home victory on Sunday. The Avs beat the Sabres (4-1) behind a goal and an assist from Mikko Rantanen. Colorado (32-8-3) now owns the best record in the NHL.


\"⚽️\" SOC: Canada Blanks USMNT in WC Qualifier

The Canadians dealt a big blow to the USMNT’s World Cup hopes on Sunday. Canada beat the U.S. (2-0) despite being outshot (13-8) and out-possessed (64-36). Cyle Larkin (7’) and Sam Adekugbe (90+5’) scored the goals.


\"⛳️\" PGA: List Wins Playoff at Torrey Pines

Luke List claimed his first career PGA Tour victory on Saturday with a playoff win over Will Zalatoris at the Farmer’s Insurance Open. Both golfers finished 15-under, but List needed a two-hour wait before the playoff. It was his 206th career event, but his first win.


\"🏀\" NCAA Men’s Basketball

Alabama def. #4 Baylor (87-78)

#12 Kentucky def. #5 Kansas (80-62)

#6 Purdue def. #16 Ohio State (81-78)


\"🏀\" NCAA Women’s Basketball

#1 S. Carolina def. Florida (62-50)

#2 Stanford def. #8 Arizona (75-69)

#3 NC State def. North Carolina (66-58)

#18 Oklahoma def. #9 Texas (65-63)



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