For the better part of a month, Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals looked like the team of destiny.
The run came to an end in Super Bowl LVI, though, as the Bengals lost 23-20 to the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday. Burrow expressed his disappointment in the result and appreciation for his team after the game:
It was hard to bet against Cincinnati after the way their postseason went.
The Bengals escaped the wild card round with a 26-19 win over the Las Vegas Raiders after a late interception near the end zone. Cincy's next two games were both won on a field goal -- first against the No. 1 seed Tennessee Titans in the divisional round, then against Patrick Mahomes' Kansas City Chiefs for the AFC title.
It looked like much of the same throughout Super Bowl LVI, too. Cincy trailed 13-3 in the second quarter before scoring 17 unanswered to lead 20-13. The magic ran out on the Rams' final drive, which went 15 plays before Cooper Kupp scored to ice the game -- and the Bengals' season.
Relive Super Bowl 56
Here are some of the many highlights from Sunday's NFL Championship:
Burrow and the Bengals could certainly be back on this stage, especially considering the young talent they have on the roster. Burrow just finished his second season, and star receiver Ja'Marr Chase was just a rookie this year.
But there are no guarantees in the NFL -- just ask any great quarterback. Dan Marino lost the Super Bowl in his second season and never returned. Aaron Rodgers was a Super Bowl MVP after his third season starting, but has yet to return.
Whether or not the Bengals make it back remains to be seen. Still, there's no doubt that the 2021 season will always be remembered in Cincinnati.