Before the Rams conquered the Bengals this year at Super Bowl LVI, there were some actual animals that stole the show.
The 18th Annual Puppy Bowl was on right before the big game, and it was a a star-studded event coached by Snoop Dogg and Martha Stewart. The furrocious game featured more than 100 adorable pups who themselves were in fierce competition.
Divided into two teams—the valiant Team Ruff, and the spunky Team Fluff—these puppies were there to fight for the victory of being the first to drag a chew toy over the end zone. But the real stakes at hand were who will be able to go home with a forever family: The Puppy Bowl is actually hosted for pups to get adopted. Since 2005, the referees, coaches, participants, and adoring onlookers have cheered the puppies on while supporting statewide local shelters who put out players that are also looking for owners.
This year’s Puppy Bowl was just as cute as previous years, with some cute high stakes competition marking the hours before the actual Super Bowl took place.
Below, some highlights of the furrocious match-up.
There Were Some Real Standouts
There was a fierce face-off for the title of MVP (and an online poll on Animal Planet’s website to vote!). Pups that stole the show included Odell Barkham, a chow chow/beagle mix from Team Ruff; Irwin, a chihuahua/American pit bull terrier from Team Fluff; Kirby the labrador retriever from Team Fluff; and Chorizo, a dachshund/ American Staffordshire terrier from Team Fluff.
Ultimately, the MVP award did go to Marshall, the Boston Terrier. He also won in a close showdown with Tank the Rottweiler/Boxer mix to be crowned "Most Pupular."
All these little angels pulled out their A game with their ability to drag those toys down the end zone! Check out the lineup here.
Some Pups Preferred the Sidelines
Yet while some thrived, other certain good boys and girls were getting stage fright and reluctant to go for any toys. Team Fluff’s Squeak, a small little Pomeranian/ Chihuahua, had to get a “pup talk”, in the corner, while Raspberry the Poodle/Chihuahua was also not in the mood to warm up, needing major encouragement (and earning am contendership for underdog of the game). Nevertheless, they were still just as adorable.
Team Fluff Pulled Ahead Early
With team members like Kirby scoring double touchdowns left and right, Team Fluff led with an initial lead against Team Ruff going into it. Footage of Kirby, Chorizo, Irwin, and other members of the lineups can was well received as they dedicatedly dragged their toys around.
Being Picky Paid Off
Odell Barkham was very particular; he first courted a pizza toy before deciding pepperoni was not his thing. His pickiness did pay off, though. With the knowledge of how much Ruff needed to score as the game went on, he went for gold as he dragged a monkey over the touchdown zone. This courageous move put Ruff in the lead for much of the game.
Commander Biden Made Special Appearance
First Lady Jill Biden came on air with a special message about pet love as Commander, the Bidens’ young German Shepherd pup, looked on. Commander did not participate in the puppy games, but he certainly was excited to speak to the rest of his canine citizens!
The theme of Commander’s appearance was all about love and how the Puppy Bowl's 18-year history had included so many dogs finding the homes and nurturing they deserved. As this year’s bowl coincided with Valentine’s Day Weekend, it’s no wonder these puppies could give us so many warm fuzzies.
There Were Some High Scorers
Ellington, a Siberian Husky/ Chow Chow mix, ended up scoring twice for Team Ruff.
Ellington wasn’t the only one with his head in the game! Ted. D. Bear, the golden doodle, was another standout for Team Ruff, making THREE touchdowns of the game!
On Team Fluff, there was Kirby, a labrador retriever who “had a real eye for the ball” and whose big and bright spirit earned him double touchdowns that put Fluff back on the map to win.
Kirby is beloved and also the Houston Texans’ service pup in-training, which made him a solid choice for MVP and for the Pupularity award.
Team Ruff Held the Lead
For a while, Ruff had a solid advantage and looked like they’d take home the “Lombarky” trophy. The score was 66-62, with Ruff ahead of Fluff for even the last moments of the game, but that didn’t last.
The Kitten Bowl Halftime Was Worth the Watch
Cat lovers got a treat as the halftime show of kittens playing charmed viewers nationwide. With a castle, a lifeguard sign, confetti, and a volleyball court among the toy selection, it’s a mystery how the Puppy Bowl players could restrain themselves from going to meet some new feline friends!
There Was Sibling Roughhouse Time
For sisters Bimini and Tayce, the competition will definitely continue off the field too.
Ultimately, Team Fluff Took Home the Victory
By the end of the game, with minutes left, it was a showdown of Chorizo versus Odell. But a sneak touchdown from Fluff gave the team the 4-point advantage they needed to become the champions!
The win resulted in a lot of well-earned celebration.
This Was the Biggest Puppy Bowl Yet
Every year, the Puppy Bowl has been a great way to advertise pups in need of homes. This year had the most participants, with over 100 pups in the game from shelters all over the country from each state, including Hawaii.
Be sure to tune in next year for more paw-sitively adorable games.