NFL Season Highlights and Recap

The 2021 NFL Season has been regarded by many as the best season of all time. Including the playoffs, 37 games were decided on the final play. The excitement level and watchability of the games was at an all time high. With so much action you may have forgotten, here is a recap of the biggest moments of the season, and a review of the accuracy of the LHS Super Bowl Predictions Survey.

The season ended with the Los Angeles Rams defeating the Cincinnati Bengals in the Super Bowl. Despite these two teams making it all the way to the big game, their paths to that point were very different.

The Rams went all in for the Super Bowl in the 2021 season. They haven’t had a first round pick since 2016 and they won’t until 2024 at the earliest. This is because they have traded for veterans to try to build a superstar team. In the last two seasons, the Rams have acquired superstars in trades like Matthew Stafford, Jalen Ramsey, Von Miller and Odell Beckham Jr. Pairing these players with homegrown All-Pros like Cooper Kupp and Aaron Donald has worked wonders for LA. The Rams began the season 8-1, with very few of those games being competitive. They followed this up with a 3 game losing streak, causing many to lose faith. But head coach Sean McVay brought them back to close the season 5-1, steal the division title, and roar into the playoffs, ready to make a run.

The Bengals road to the Super Bowl began in 2019, when they finished 2-14 and earned the first pick in the draft. They selected quarterback Joe Burrow, who was coming off a 15-0 National Championship winning season at LSU, and he has changed their franchise. After pairing him with Ja’Marr Chase, his college teammate, in the 2020 first round, their team was transformed. Cincinnati began the season uneven. They beat division foes Baltimore and Pittsburgh, but lost to the lowly Jets and Bears. They lost on a last second field goal to the team with the NFL’s best record, the Green Bay Packers, and won on a last second field goal to the team with the worst record, the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Bengals seemed like an average team with a lot of firepower that would be scary in the future. Turns out, the future meant a few weeks down the road. Cincinnati went 5-2 down the stretch. Burrow combined for 971 yards, 8 touchdowns and 0 interceptions in his last two games of the regular season, to upset the Ravens and the Super Bowl favorite Chiefs and secure the division title for Cincinnati.

Andrew Brooks


In the first round of the postseason, the Bengals and Rams won their matchups as home favorites. The Kansas City Chiefs, Buffalo Bills and Tampa Bay Buccaneers also stormed past their Wild Card opponents. The San Francisco 49ers became the final team to enter the next round by upsetting the Cowboys in Dallas.

The Divisional and Conference Championship Rounds were historic. There were six games over the two weekends. The average margin of victory in the games was 3.5 points. The 4 seed Bengals upset the 1 seed Titans on a game winning field goal by rookie kicker Evan McPherson after linebacker Logan Wilson intercepted a pass with 20 seconds to play. Later that night, the 6 seed 49ers stunned the 1 seed Packers on a last second field goal of their own, thanks in large part to a blocked punt and a powerful first down run by receiver Deebo Samuel.

The next day featured the final game of Tom Brady’s legendary career, and he made sure to keep it entertaining down to the final second. Despite trailing 27-3 to the Rams, Brady and the Bucs tied the game at 27 with less than a minute to play. A 44-yard bomb from Matthew Stafford to Cooper Kupp set up the third game winning field goal of the weekend.

The final game of the Divisional Round has been called the best NFL playoff game of all time. Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs took on Josh Allen and the Bills and the result was beautiful. The game was close throughout and an incredibly back and forth affair. The biggest lead either team had the whole game was seven points.

Trailing 26-21 with 1:57 to play, Josh Allen found Gabriel Davis on a 4th and 13 touchdown strike. After the 2 point conversion, Buffalo led by 3, but that lead did not last. 55 seconds later, Mahomes found Tyreek Hill over the middle who darted for a 64 yard touchdown. Kansas City now led by 4 and it still was not over. Allen came back on the field. It only took him 49 seconds to gain 75 yards and score a touchdown. This was Allen’s fourth touchdown of the game to Davis and it put the Bills up by 3 with 13 seconds left. Mahomes still was not done. Two plays and 13 seconds later, the Chiefs were in field goal range, and kicker Harrison Butker sent the game to overtime.

In overtime, Kansas City won the coin toss, and due to controversial overtime rules, their touchdown drive to Travis Kelce sealed the deal. The Chiefs would return to the AFC Championship for the fourth straight year.

Andrew Brooks

In that championship game, the Chiefs took a 21-3 lead over the underdog Bengals. But, Burrow stormed back, taking a 24-21 lead in the late fourth quarter thanks to the offense and defense putting out unbelievable effort. Kansas City tied it at the end of regulation on a field goal and sent the game to overtime. Once again, the Chiefs won the toss. But this game did not go the way the previous one did, as Mahomes was intercepted by Jessie Bates on the Chiefs first possession of OT. Burrow drove the Bengals down the field and McPherson sealed the deal, sending the Bengals to the Super Bowl on his 12th made field goal of the postseason.

Who would the Bengals opponent be? The winner of the Rams versus the Niners. San Francisco had beaten LA six times in a row and got out to a 17-7 lead in this game. But Stafford and Kupp took over. They played flawlessly in the fourth quarter, gaining a 20-17 lead with a minute left to play. Aaron Donald pressured Jimmy Garoppolo on a last ditch effort by the Niners and the pass was picked off, sending the Rams to a hometown Super Bowl against Burrow and the Bengals.

Just like the rest of the postseason, Super Bowl 56 was a thriller. It had everything football fans could want. This game had big playson offense and big hits on defense. It was a back and forth affair, with neither team leading by more than 10. It featured elite players making the best plays in the biggest moments, and it had a gripping conclusion where the Rams took over on both sides of the ball in the final minutes. With 6 minutes to go, the Rams got the ball back down by four points. They proceeded to complete a 15 play drive that was capitalized by a touchdown pass from Matthew Stafford to Cooper Kupp. This score put LA up by 3 with less than 90 seconds to play. Joe Burrow got the ball back and tried to mount a game tying drive, but Aaron Donald pressured and disrupted Burrow’s pass on 4th down to force an incompletion, and the Rams were Super Bowl Champions.


Andrew Brooks

In September, a survey was sent to the LHS students and staff, allowing them to send in their pick for the Super Bowl. Out of 258 responses, 30 people selected the Rams to make it to the Super Bowl and 8 picked them to win it all. The Bengals had the 29th best odds to make the Super Bowl at the start of the season, but two people in the survey still picked them to make the all the way to the big game.

The most popular pick, the Kansas City Chiefs, lost in overtime of the AFC Championship. The next three teams that were picked the most often– Buffalo, Tampa, and Green Bay– all came up short in the Divisional Round. The Bears were the 5th most common pick, but failed to make the playoffs after finishing 6-11.