NFL

Super Bowl LVI: Mission complete for Donald after landing knockout blow on Bengals

By Sports Desk February 14, 2022

"I think defense is going to win this game. Somebody has to step up and stop these superstar quarterbacks, that team is going to win this game. I just think the defense has to score the knockout."

Michael Buffer has made his name as the voice of professional boxing, but he clearly knows his football, as his Super Bowl prediction proved remarkably prescient.

It was indeed a defensive player who delivered the knockout blow of Super Bowl LVI, as the Los Angeles Rams fought back to beat the Cincinnati Bengals 23-20.

The league's premier defensive star, Aaron Donald, was the source of that telling strike, and it may well prove the final one of his career.

On a must-have fourth-down attempt for the Bengals following Cooper Kupp's go-ahead touchdown, Donald sliced through the interior of the Bengals' offensive line and corralled a hobbled Joe Burrow, who flung a desperation pass that proved too short for Samaje Perine.

Donald finally climbing the mountain with the Rams after years of defensive dominance will only heighten talk of retirement that emerged pre-game.

The three-time Defensive Player of the Year was non-committal on his future speaking after the game, choosing to focus on a moment in which he vindicated head coach Sean McVay's faith in him.

McVay told Donald he would make the decisive play, delivering a show of confidence in a player whose consistent brilliance has merited such belief.

"He told me that when I got to the sideline. You have to be relentless. You want something bad enough, you go get it," Donald told a media conference. 

"It was right in front of us. We had the lead. It was put on the defense's shoulders to make the big stop to make us world champions. You wouldn't want it another way.

"All offseason you work, you train, you got camp, you got a long season just for this one game to be the last team standing. You have to give it everything you've got.

"It's about being relentless, showing up when you need to. Big-time players make big-time plays in big-time games. It's truly a blessing, the opportunity to play this game, but not just play this game, play with great team-mates, great coaches, great organisation.

"Been here eight years, lot of ups-and-downs, so to see it come full circle and be a world champion, all that hard work you put into this game, that's what it's for. Finally mission complete, so it feels great."

Describing the final play, he said: "We had made a third-down stop. Fourth down, I thought they would run, but they dropped back to pass. Found a way to get the chop-club and bend the edge and found a way to get to the quarterback and make him throw an errant pass.

"I actually tried to get the ball out, but he threw it up so I was a little nervous at first. It was a huge play. It was a great few stops for the defense that we made leading up to that. I think we started taking over the game up front when we needed to. We're world champs."

Related items

  • Top QB recruit Arch Manning commits to Texas Top QB recruit Arch Manning commits to Texas

    Heralded quarterback prospect Arch Manning has committed to sign with the University of Texas, ending one of the most anticipated recruiting decisions in recent memory.

    Manning, the nephew of Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks Peyton and Eli Manning and the grandson of Ole Miss legend Archie Manning, revealed his decision with a short message on his Twitter account.

    "Committed to the University of Texas. #HookEm,” Manning tweeted.

    Texas was one of three schools, along with Alabama and Georgia, that Manning made official visits to earlier this month.

    The 17-year-old New Orleans native is the consensus number one quarterback of the 2023 class, and his ties to his famous family added further interest and intrigue to his recruitment.

    Arch’s decision would also continue the legacy of Manning quarterbacks within the Southeastern Conference, as Texas is currently scheduled to join the SEC from the Big 12 in 2025 – a move that could theoretically come sooner if the Longhorns and Oklahoma can negotiate buyouts from their present leagues.

    Both Archie and Eli Manning played collegiately at Mississippi, while Peyton starred at Tennessee before embarking on his Hall of Fame NFL career. Additionally, Arch’s father, Cooper, committed to Ole Miss as a wide receiver before a diagnosis of spinal stenosis ended his playing career shortly after high school.

    Manning will be joining a Texas program that is already well-stocked at the quarterback position after landing Ohio State transfer Quinn Ewers, the consensus number one recruit of the 2021 class, in December.

    The Longhorns also have two other highly regarded quarterback prospects in rising sophomore Hudson Card and incoming freshman Maalik Murphy. 

  • Former NFL defensive tackle Tony Siragusa dies at 55 Former NFL defensive tackle Tony Siragusa dies at 55

    Former NFL defensive tackle and TV analyst Tony Siragusa has died at 55 years old.  

    Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay confirmed the death on Wednesday. 

    A member of the Baltimore Ravens Super Bowl championship team from the 2000 season, Siragusa was a fan favourite during his 12 professional seasons due to his jovial, larger-than-life personality that matched his massive frame.

    Undrafted out of Pittsburgh, Siragusa signed with the Colts in 1990 and spent his first seven seasons in Indianapolis before joining the Ravens in 1997. He finished his career with 564 total tackles, 22 sacks and nine fumble recoveries in 169 games.

    Following his retirement after the 2001 season, Siragusa spent more than a decade as a sideline reporter and analyst for NFL games on Fox. He was known for providing his commentary from the sidelines during game broadcasts as opposed to the traditional analyst role in a TV booth.  

    Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti said in a statement: "Renee and I are stunned and heartbroken to learn about the sudden passing of Tony Siragusa.

    "He was a special person and clearly one of the most popular players in Ravens history.

    "Tony's larger-than-life personality made an enormous impact on our organisation and throughout the Baltimore community.

    "On the football field, Goose was a difference-maker who contributed immeasurably to the success of many great Ravens defenses, including the record-setting 2000 Super Bowl team.

    "Our deepest prayers and sympathies go out to Kathy, their three children and the rest of the Siragusa family."

    A native of New Jersey, Siragusa also dabbled in acting following his NFL career, playing a recurring character on the TV series 'The Sopranos'.

    The announcement of Siragusa's passing comes on the same day the Ravens confirmed the death of linebacker Jaylon Ferguson at the age of 26.

    "This is a tremendously sad day for the Baltimore Ravens," Bisciotti added. "We appreciate everyone who has expressed an outpouring of support for our players, coaches and staff."

  • Top QB recruit Arch Manning still weighing options Top QB recruit Arch Manning still weighing options

    The high school coach of heralded quarterback prospect Arch Manning says the five-star recruit is still in the process of deciding where he will play college football in 2023. 

    Nelson Stewart, coach of Isidore Newman School in New Orleans, told The Athletic this week that although Manning is getting closer to a decision, the highly coveted 17-year-old has yet to make a commitment as he continues to gather information from several prospective suitors. 

    "There's no impulsivity to him. There's no rush," Stewart said. "When he knows, he knows. 

    "Obviously he's been going through this for seven years. We're in the fourth quarter. It's just about attention to detail and supporting him."

    Manning, the nephew of former Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks Peyton and Eli Manning and the grandson of Ole Miss legend Archie Manning, just returned to New Orleans following a recent visit to the University of Texas. The Longhorns are considered among the favourites to land the Class of 2023's top quarterback along with Alabama and Georgia, two schools Manning also made official visits to earlier this month. 

    Mississippi, where both Archie and Eli Manning played, is also viewed as a potential landing spot for the younger Manning.  

    Stewart said Manning is not expected to take any more visits and will spend the remainder of the summer preparing for his senior year at Isidore Newman and working at his family's passing academy in Louisiana. He is unsure if Manning will have his decision finalised by the time the high school season begins. 

    "When he's ready, he's ready," Stewart said. "This is his private time. We're just trying to give him the distance to formulate his own thoughts." 

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.