The Cincinnati Bengals finally, really feel as if they're in the Super Bowl now.
The Bengals flew into Los Angeles on Tuesday, a nice switch from preparing for Sunday's game back home in frigid Ohio to being in warm and sunny California.
Cincinnati offensive coordinator Brian Callahan said being on-site helps make the game real and tangible after feeling like something far away last week when the Bengals went about their usual routine back in Ohio.
“It's cold and miserable and all those things,” Callahan said. “It's the wintertime in Ohio. Had a snowstorm and all that. It just felt like the normal process.”
The Bengals were greeted with plenty of cameras at the airport, and Super Bowl logos are everywhere. They announced their arrival with a simple tweet saying, “We've made it to California.”
“Now it feels real,” Callahan said. “It feels like we're getting ready to play the Super Bowl. It's exciting. It's fun, trying to enjoy every moment of it.”
Callahan said the Bengals have earned all of the attention and the opportunity to showcase themselves to the world. That doesn't mean they've forgotten why they're here.
“Once we start the prep, we're back into it, ready to go win a football game,” Callahan said.
No team in the NFL has been as productive as the Bengals at scoring late in the first half. That’s been especially true in the playoffs when the Bengals have scored in the final two minutes of all three games to get to the Super Bowl.
Joe Burrow threw a TD pass to Tyler Boyd against the Raiders in the wild-card round, Evan McPherson kicked a late field goal to give the Bengals a halftime lead over Tennessee in the divisional round and Burrow’s TD pass to Samaje Perine started the comeback from 18 points down in the AFC title game at Kansas City.
Those scores give the Bengals a league-high 74 points in the final two minutes of the first half in the regular season and playoffs, the fourth most in a season since 2000.
“It’s something we were really built for,” coach Zac Taylor said. “What I mean by that is one of our first installs is really on the ball, no huddle. So it doesn’t really affect the communication process. It’s something we’ve invested a lot of time in. Joe does a great job managing that.
"The receivers and the other skill guys understand the urgency to get set and be where you need to be. Of course, we got a lot of playmakers. That’s why we’re in the position we are. Those guys have done a great job at the end of the half, giving us some really positive momentum going into halftime.”
SUPER BOWL BABY WATCH
Rams wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. is keeping his phone close by at all times. As he puts it, he’s on call for baby watch.
He and his girlfriend Lauren Wood announced in November that they were expecting. Beckham signed with the Rams in November after being released by Cleveland. When a reporter asked what would happen if the baby arrives Saturday night ahead of the Super Bowl.
“I don’t need you to put the energy in the air about the Saturday night or the Sunday thing because, I think God’s got a different plan,” Beckham said. “I don’t need it during the Super Bowl. I want to be able to see my child being born, so I’m on watch, I’m on standby.”
Beckham’s hope? That his baby arrives by Wednesday at the latest.
LANDRY CHATS WITH OBJ
Odell Beckham Jr. couldn’t quite place the voice at first.
But within a few seconds of listening to the person on the other side of the Zoom call, the Los Angeles Rams wide receiver realized it was his buddy and former LSU and Cleveland Browns teammate Jarvis Landry.
Beckham broke out in a huge smile as Landry, a surprise guest during the Rams’ media session Monday, told him how happy he is he’s playing in the Super Bowl.
“I ain’t got no questions, man, but I want to start by saying, you’re deserving of this moment,” said Landry, who played with him in college and then for three seasons in Cleveland until Beckham was waived in November.
Beckham’s drama-filled stint with the Browns included his father sharing a video on social media highlighting times when Baker Mayfield didn’t throw Beckham passes and ended with the wide receiver being told to stay home from practice.
Beckham was signed by the Rams a few days later and has become a key contributor during Los Angeles’ Super Bowl run.
“You put countless hours to where you are today and I’ve witnessed it all first-hand,” Landry said. “You have scars to show for where you are today. This is a dream that you are actually turning into a reality and I wanted to come on here and just let you know that I’m proud of you, bro. There are so many people supporting you every step of the way bro. Continue to use your light, continue to be a blessing to others.”
Landry also pointed out that his buddy is living out a quote from Martin Luther King Jr. that Beckham has on his left arm: “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
Beckham tapped his heart and said, “You’re giving me chills,” before thanking Landry.
“If it wasn’t for you and I really mean this from the bottom of my heart, and I always tell you this, bro,” Beckham said. “But besides Pop, there’s no man who ever came into my life and has had the effect and impact that you have had to make me a better person, player, a man, soon-to-be father, brother, lover. You’ve shown me the light, dog, and I love you so much, bro.
“And this moment, it’s for us, bro. This is everything we ever talked about, dog, so I appreciate you coming on here. You know it’s nothing but love.”
Landry said the feeling’s mutual and added: “Go get that ring, dude!”
Super Bowl viewers at the home of the Baseball Hall of Fame will get a first look at an inspirational baseball story during the big football game.
A TV commercial previewing the upcoming film, “Landis, Just Watch Me” will air Sunday night on WKTV, the NBC affiliate in upstate New York. The station’s viewing audience includes Cooperstown — home of baseball’s hall.
“Landis, Just Watch Me” chronicles the journey of Indiana teenager Landis Sims, who was born with no hands or feet, as he tries to make his varsity high school baseball team. The movie, directed by Eric Cochran, is scheduled to be released during the summer.
Bob Babbitt, an Ironman Triathlon Hall of Fame inductee and Challenged Athletes Foundation co-founder, was an executive producer on the film. He came up with the idea of airing a commercial during the Super Bowl. But rather than buy a multimillion-dollar spot on national TV, the one-time commercial — created by Cochran and his team at Taikuli Productions — will air in upstate New York for just $3,000.
“Super Bowl Sunday is a time to be inspired,” Babbitt said. “Following Landis as he works to overcome obstacles to further his love of baseball is near impossible to describe. It must be seen. We decided the Cooperstown area, so rich in baseball history, is the place where people will most appreciate the impact of baseball on this amazing story.”
SUPER BOWL FIRST & LAST
During the closing notes of the national anthem performance before the Super Bowl, pilot Steve Hinton will lead a five-plane flyover formation above So-Fi Stadium. The first-of-its-kind Super Bowl flyover formation features the U.S. Air Force Heritage Flight team.
Hinton, whose film credits include Pearl Harbor, Die Hard 2, Dunkirk and Iron Man, will pilot a vintage P-51 Mustang “Wee Willy II” from the Air Force Heritage Flight Foundation and provide a live in-flight feed to NBC’s Super Bowl audience from a camera mounted on the aircraft.
“Our foundation flies with the Air Force at aerial events all over the country, and this particular one is very special because we’re going to have all the demo teams flying together,” Hinton said on the AP Pro Football Podcast.
Hinton, who led the flyover before the Super Bowl in Minneapolis in 2018, is retiring from the Heritage Flight Team so this will be his last flyover.
“There’s no better way to put a cap on it and be a part of this very historic flight,” Hinton said of his 25-year career.
AP Pro Football Writers Dennis Waszak Jr., Teresa M. Walker, Josh Dubow and Rob Maaddi contributed to this report.
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