Feb 13, 2022; Inglewood, CA, USA; Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp (10) holds the Lombardi Trophy as he is interviewed by NBC sports host Mike Tirico after defeating the Cincinnati Bengals during Super Bowl LVI at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

NFL/Nielsen Survey: More than 200M watched Super Bowl LVI

An estimated 208 million-plus people in the United States watched the Los Angeles Rams defeat the Cincinnati Bengals last month in Super Bowl LVI, according to a survey conducted by the NFL and Nielsen.

The survey was designed to complement Nielsen’s data on viewership and found that about two-thirds of the U.S. population watched as least one minute of the game.

Nielsen initially put that figure at 167 million unique viewers, and the survey showed the figure actually was 25 percent higher.

The custom survey measured 6,600 households.

“While it’s no secret that the Super Bowl is the biggest event across the media landscape on a yearly basis, the exact number of people watching the game has been challenging to pinpoint given the fact that people tend to gather in groups to watch the game,” said Paul Ballew, the chief data and analytics officer of the NFL. “We’re grateful for the work put into this custom survey by Nielsen, the results of which we feel provide the most accurate picture to date of the total viewership for this unique event.”

It previously was reported that the Feb. 13 telecast of Super Bowl LVI on NBC, Telemundo, Peacock, NBC Sports Digital, NFL Digital platforms and Yahoo Sports mobile properties averaged 112.3 million viewers. That was the most viewers for any television programming since an average of 113.7 million people watched Super Bowl LI in February 2017.

–Field Level Media

Feb 13, 2022; Inglewood, CA, USA; Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford celebrates with the Lombardi Trophy after defeating the Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl LVI at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Super Bowl LVI most-watched game in five years

Super Bowl LVI was the most watched television show in five years and averaged 112.3 million viewers across all platforms, the NFL announced Tuesday.

The Los Angeles Rams defeated the Cincinnati Bengals 23-20 in Sunday’s game.

In all, 101.1 million viewers watched the game on NBC and its Spanish-language sister, Telemundo. An additional 11.2 million people streamed the game, primarily on NBC’s Peacock.

The total was the most since a viewership of 113.7 million for Super Bowl LI in 2017, when the New England Patriots defeated the Atlanta Falcons 34-28, the NFL said.

The 2021 Super Bowl between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Kansas City Chiefs drew an average of 96.4 million viewers on television for CBS.

“The Super Bowl once again delivered a massive audience, which included NBC and the unmatched power of broadcast television as well as first-ever presentations on Peacock and Telemundo, and led into our most-watched Olympics coverage in four years,” said Mark Lazarus, chairman of NBCUniversal Television and Streaming said in a news release.

The Super Bowl halftime show, starring Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Mary J. Blige and Kendrick Lamar, averaged 103.4 million viewers.

Among local markets, Cincinnati led the way in viewership with a 46.1 rating/84 share. That means 46.1 percent of all households in the market had the game turned on, and 84 percent of the people who were watching television at the time were watching the game.

Los Angeles had a 36.7/77 market share.

No. 2 on the list was Detroit, where Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford spent 12 seasons before an offseason trade sent him west. Detroit had a 45.9/79 share.

Two other metro areas in Ohio were in the ratings top 10 — Columbus and Cleveland.

–Field Level Media

Feb 13, 2022; Inglewood, California, USA; Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald (99) celebrates after a pressure in the fourth quarter against the Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl LVI at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Super Bowl notebook: Aaron Donald bolsters stellar career with title

Entering Sunday, Aaron Donald had been a Rookie of the Year, a Pro Bowler, an All-Pro selection and a Defensive Player of the Year.

By day’s end, he had earned a new distinction: Super Bowl champion.

Donald, the standout defensive tackle for the Los Angeles Rams, recorded two of his team’s seven sacks in Super Bowl LVI, helping to secure a 23-20 win over the Cincinnati Bengals. He made several big plays down the stretch to punctuate what has been one of the greatest careers by a defensive player in NFL history.

“I’m just so happy,” Donald told NBC following the game. “I wanted this so bad. I dreamed this. Man, I dreamed this. And it’s surreal. Look at this. I feel amazing. I feel amazing.”

With the game on the line in the final minute, Donald broke through the Bengals’ offensive line and wrapped up quarterback Joe Burrow, who flung a desperation fourth-down pass that fell incomplete.

“One last play to be world champs. Give it everything you got, and I found a way to get to him,” Donald said. “We made a play and we won. That’s all that matters.”

Now it remains to be seen if Donald, who reportedly was considering retirement if Los Angeles won the title, will walk away as a champion, or if he’ll return for a ninth season with the Rams.

“I’m in the moment. I’m just going to enjoy right now with these guys,” Donald said. “My kids (are coming) on the field. This is a promise I made to my daughter when she was 5. We’re going to play in the confetti for a minute and live in the moment.”

–Rams safety Eric Weddle said after the game that he believes he tore his pec early in the contest. A postgame report by ESPN confirmed the injury, which often is a season-ending ailment for most players.

The six-time Pro Bowler was lured out of retirement last month to rejoin Los Angeles for its Super Bowl push. The 37-year-old Weddle finished Sunday’s game with five tackles, earning the first — and, as it appears, the only — championship of his career.

“I am re-retiring,” Weddle announced after the game. “Back to my daily life.”

–Cincinnati earned its spot in the Super Bowl, emerging from one of the NFL’s most competitive divisions and then defeating the Las Vegas Raiders, Tennessee Titans and Kansas City Chiefs, with the final two victories coming as road upsets.

The Bengals then held the talented Rams offense to 313 total yards in the Super Bowl before falling in the final two minutes of the game.

Still, cornerback Chidobe Awuzie commented postgame that Sunday’s loss, while tough, is merely the beginning of things to come.

“Our heads are still high. We know who we are,” Awuzie said. “I’m really excited about the future.”

–Field Level Media

Jan 23, 2022; Tampa, Florida, USA; Los Angeles Rams cornerback Eric Weddle (20) looks on during the first half against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during a NFC Divisional playoff football game at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Pendleton-USA TODAY Sports

Rams’ Eric Weddle, Bengals’ Mike Daniels activated

The Los Angeles Rams on Saturday activated safety Eric Weddle and cornerback Blake Countess from the practice squad to the active roster for Super Bowl LVI.

The Cincinnati Bengals similarly elevated defensive tackle Mike Daniels and wide receiver Trent Taylor to the active roster for Sunday’s showdown at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, Calif.

Weddle, 37, participated in all three playoff games so far after coming out of retirement. The six-time Pro Bowl selection started and registered nine tackles in the 20-17 win against the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship.

Countess, 28, has played a total of 24 snaps on special teams this postseason.

Daniels, 32, has not played since suffering a groin injury in the Bengals’ Week 18 loss to the Cleveland Browns. The former Pro Bowler was limited to two games this season.

Taylor, 27, has returned four punts in three playoff games. He also caught a two-point conversion pass in the 27-24 victory against the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC title game.

–Field Level Media

Cincinnati Bengals head coach Zac Taylor delivers remarks during the Super Bowl LVI Opening Night Fan Rally, Monday, Feb. 7, 2022, at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati. The Cincinnati Bengals are set to face off against the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LVI, Sunday, Feb. 13, at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, Calif.

Cincinnati Bengals Super Bowl Lvi Opening Night Fan Rally Feb 7

Zac Taylor makes deal to keep Bengals focused on Super Bowl

The Super Bowl tends to be held in warm locales, but few markets are more attractive than greater Los Angeles, with its beaches and Hollywood lights.

But the Cincinnati Bengals have sworn to tune out the potentially enticing distractions of Los Angeles while in town for Super Bowl LVI against the hometown Los Angeles Rams.

Bengals coach Zac Taylor told his team that once the job was done, they could return to Los Angeles in the offseason — on his dime. Safety Jessie Bates III was the first to mention the deal to reporters Wednesday.

“I think we’re a focused team, man. I don’t think there’s guys who have their minds on other things,” Bates said. “Like Coach Taylor said, he’ll buy us a flight to L.A. after we win this whole thing. So that’s the goal.”

Cincinnati players didn’t need much convincing. On the precipice of the first Super Bowl victory in franchise history in just their third year under Taylor and second under quarterback Joe Burrow, the Bengals know they have a momentous goal in their grasp.

“This is a business trip,” tight end C.J. Uzomah said. “I can come out here after the season, hit the beach. … This is another week, another chance to put our best foot forward.”

If the pleasurable distractions of Los Angeles won’t bother the Bengals, there’s still the question of the climate. Taylor admitted to the Bengals’ team website that a heat wave in the Los Angeles area this week has presented some unusual challenges for February.

“Hydrating as best we can,” Taylor said of battling temperatures in the upper 80s. “It’s just like the cold. What can you do? You go out there and manage it the best you can. We’re practicing in some good heat and I think our guys will be ready for it.”

Taylor, a 38-year-old from Oklahoma, has some familiarity with the city. He coached on the Rams’ offensive staff in 2017 and 2018, coming up short in the Super Bowl in the latter year in a 13-3 loss to the New England Patriots.

But it isn’t too hot in California for some Bengals players who are taking it all in stride.

“Everybody’s happy to be out the cold weather in Cincy,” cornerback Tre Flowers said. “But that’s something we grew used to there. It’s just something we’ve got to adapt to here.

“Everybody is just ready to play. This is the biggest game of our life, and that’s because it’s the next game of our life.”

–Field Level Media

Jan 30, 2022; Inglewood, California, USA; Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) throws a pass against the San Francisco 49ers in the second half during the NFC Championship Game at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Lions tenure readied Matthew Stafford for Super Bowl debut with Rams

A high-powered telescope wouldn’t have helped Matthew Stafford spot the Super Bowl from Detroit.

The 13-year veteran will have the closest view possible on Sunday when the Los Angeles Rams face the Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl LVI, but all those fruitless seasons with the Lions are providing him with large doses of appreciation.

“I probably bring a unique perspective to this team,” Stafford said of the Rams during Monday’s media availability. “I didn’t have (playoff runs) at the beginning of my career but my experiences (in Detroit) have helped me become the player that I am and the teammate I am.

“It makes me appreciate the opportunity and I know they are hard to come by.”

Stafford played in three playoff games in Detroit — losing all three — but has reversed the scales in his first season in Los Angeles. He guided the Rams to three consecutive wins and now a career-defining opportunity awaits.

Stafford, who turned 34 on Monday, has passed for 905 yards, six touchdowns and one interception this postseason. He guided Los Angeles back from a 10-point, fourth-quarter deficit against the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC title game for a 20-17 victory on Jan. 30.

Stafford has meshed well with two 36-year-old bosses — coach Sean McVay and offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell — in his first season in Los Angeles. The results included matching his career best of 41 touchdown passes, which ranked second in the NFL behind Tampa Bay’s Tom Brady (43).

“He and I are so close in age and I have so much respect for how he sees the game and this offense,” Stafford said of McVay. “And I feel he has great respect for my vision.

“Do we disagree in games and practices? Yes. But it is always with healthy respect of what the other person’s job is … and the way he calls the game is unbelievable. It’s great working with him. He’s such a smart guy, but such a relatable guy as well, so it’s been fun.”

Four-time Pro Bowl left tackle Andrew Whitworth said he was immediately impressed with how Stafford took responsibility for everything that occurs on the field.

An offensive lineman could miss the block or a receiver could run the wrong route and Stafford would jump in first to say that he could have done something better.

“I always had a ton of respect for him in the league and his talent and his ability and some of the crazy no-look throws and things he had done in his career,” Whitworth said. “You saw all the injuries he played through and how tough he was.

“He accepts all challenges. … He’s one heck of a football player and it gives you nothing but respect for him each and every day.”

All those traits developed in Detroit where Stafford couldn’t corral success.

Sure, the Lions won 10 games in 2011 and 11 in 2014, but they also finished below .500 in eight of Stafford’s 12 seasons.

After a 5-11 mark in 2020, Stafford knew it was time to leave. A deal with the Rams was consummated, with quarterback Jared Goff shipped to Detroit in return.

And over the past week, Stafford’s phone has been bustling with calls and messages from some of his former teammates with the Lions, including a text from Hall of Fame receiver Calvin Johnson, his top target for seven seasons.

“I have heard from Calvin. I’ve heard from a bunch of old teammates,” Stafford said. “(Calvin) was such a big part of my success in Detroit. The way he went about his business and treated people and his work ethic was all class. …

“I will always have a soft spot in my heart for Detroit and will always appreciate the fans.”

Stafford’s career numbers include 49,995 yards and 323 touchdowns in the regular season. Add a Super Bowl title to the resume as those statistical figures continue to grow in future seasons, and an eventual Hall of Fame induction could be on the horizon.

But taking care of business this Sunday is where Stafford’s focus lies, not on cementing any legacy.

“What I came here for was a new beginning, a new opportunity and to go out and play football for a great team,” Stafford said. “I’m sure Sunday I’m going to be as excited as I’ve ever been playing a football game, there’s no question about that, understanding the magnitude.”

–Field Level Media

Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow (9) peeks up to the video board as he returns to the line in the second quarter of the NFL Week 16 game between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Baltimore Ravens at Paul Brown Stadium in downtown Cincinnati on Sunday, Dec. 26, 2021. The Bengals led 31-14 at halftime.Baltimore Ravens At Cincinnati Bengals Week 16

Bengals to wear black jerseys in Super Bowl LVI vs. Rams

The Cincinnati Bengals will wear their black jerseys with white pants in Super Bowl LVI against the Los Angeles Rams on Feb. 13.

The AFC champion Bengals traditionally wear their black jerseys for home games. They are considered the home team for the Super Bowl despite the game being played at the Rams’ home field, SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, Calif.

Cincinnati was awarded its choice of uniform color given its status as the “home” team.

The Bengals wore black jerseys and white pants in their first Super Bowl appearance. They dropped a 26-21 decision to the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XVI.

For what it’s worth, they wore their white jerseys in their next Super Bowl appearance. The 49ers posted a 20-16 win in Super Bowl XXIII.

–Field Level Media

Jan 30, 2022; Inglewood, California, USA; Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) with the George Halas Trophy after defeating the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship Game at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Rams set as 4-point favorites to beat Bengals in Super Bowl

The Los Angeles Rams have been set as four-point favorites to beat the Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl LVI at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, Calif., on Feb. 13.

The Rams, who knocked off the San Francisco 49ers 20-17 Sunday night in the NFC Championship Game, are four-point favorites at a variety of sites, such as Draft Kings, Caesars Sportsbook and Fan Duel. BetMGM set the line at 3 1/2 points.

The Bengals, who as seven-point underdogs rallied from 18 points down to upset the host Kansas City Chiefs 27-24 in overtime in the AFC Championship Game earlier Sunday, have been the underdogs in two of their three playoff games.

The AFC North champs defeated the Las Vegas Raiders in the wild-card round as six-point favorites and were three-point underdogs before toppling the top-seeded Tennessee Titans in the divisional round.

The NFC West champion Rams were three-point favorites over the Arizona Cardinals, two-point underdogs to the defending Super Bowl champ Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and 3 1/2-point favorites over the 49ers.

While the Bengals have covered throughout the postseason, they were only 10-7 against the spread in the regular season, according to The Athletic. The Rams went 8-9 against the spread during the regular season and are 2-1 in the playoffs.

The Bengals, who went 4-11-1 last season and finished last in their division, were listed at +10,000 to win the Super Bowl before this season began, according to odds website The Lines.

Among seven betting websites, four set the Super Bowl total at 49 1/2 points, while three others listed it at 50.

–Field Level Media

Nov 11, 2021; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; NFL referee Ron Torbert (62) signals during the second half between the Miami Dolphins and the Baltimore Ravens at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Ron Torbert named lead referee for Super Bowl LVI

Ron Torbert will serve as the lead referee for Super Bowl LVI, the NFL announced Tuesday.

Torbert joined the NFL’s officiating staff as a side judge in 2010 before being promoted to referee in 2014. He will receive his first Super Bowl assignment when the AFC and NFC champions square off on Feb. 13 at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, Calif.

Umpire Bryan Neale and side judge Keith Washington will be making their Super Bowl debuts next month.

Down judge Derick Bowers will work his second Super Bowl, while line judge Carl Johnson, field judge Rick Patterson and back judge Scott Helverson are scheduled to work their third Super Bowl.

Roddy Ames will serve as the replay official.

–Field Level Media

Sep 14, 2020; Denver, Colorado, USA; A Denver Broncos helmet on the ground before the game against the Tennessee Titans at Empower Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Broncos’ Super Bowl odds shorten with Teddy Bridgewater, Patrick Surtain

Oddmakers took favorably to the Denver Broncos’ moves after the first day of the NFL draft, shortening the team’s odds to win Super Bowl LVI in February.

Draft Kings adjusted the Broncos’ odds to +1600 — they were +6000 on Tuesday — after Denver’s acquisition of quarterback Teddy Bridgewater from the Carolina Panthers and selection of Alabama cornerback Patrick Surtain II with the No. 9 overall pick in the opening round of the draft on Thursday night.

The Broncos join the Cleveland Browns and Green Bay Packers at +1600 — the seventh-shortest odds in the league.

The Chiefs (+500) remained the favorites with DraftKings, followed by the defending champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who dropped to +700 from +750 in the latest odds, then the Baltimore Ravens (+1300), and the Buffalo Bills, Los Angeles Rams and San Francisco 49ers, all at +1400.

The 49ers opened the week at +1600 and saw their odds shortened after their selection of North Dakota State quarterback Trey Lance with the No. 3 overall pick.

Green Bay’s odds got longer on Friday, moving from +1100 on Tuesday, after reigning league MVP Aaron Rodgers reportedly said he no longer wants to play for the Packers.

The odds also got longer for the Arizona Cardinals, who moved from +3300 to +4000, and Panthers (+6000 to +6600). Despite taking quarterback Zach Wilson of BYU with the No. 2 overall pick, the New York Jets saw their odds of winning the Super Bowl lengthen from +8000 to +10000 — the same as the Cincinnati Bengals.

The embattled Houston Texans and the Detroit Lions remained the longest shots in the field at +15000.

–Field Level Media