Team Fluff Stuns Team Ruff in a Puppy Bowl For the Ages
A slobberknocker full of slobber. A dogfight full of dogs. On the day where an innocent groundhog poked his head out of a hole in the ground and looked for his own shadow, the canines of Puppy Bowl squared off.
The format of the Puppy Bowl was altered in 2015, when it was announced that the competitors would be divided into two teams: Team Fluff and Team Ruff. These franchises have faced off in the Puppy Bowl every year since, with the series knotted at two games apiece. The tie would inevitably be settled in this contest, and it came down to the best ending paw-sible.
Team Fluff started the day off as 7.5-point favorites, but it was Team Ruff that jumped out to the early lead. Cafecito, a speedy terrier from Miami, ran back the opening kickoff for a touchdown and set the tone for a high-scoring affair.
Fluff quickly responded with a touchdown from Bert, who scampered into the endzone on a designed bootleg. The 12-week-old mutt capitalized on a neutral bone infraction penalty committed by Team Ruff, which, aside from an illegal dog collar tackle later on, was the only blemish in an otherwise clean game.
That’s not to say this wasn’t a physical matchup, though. Both teams went at each other in the trenches, to the point where Linus, the game’s smallest player, had to sideline himself for his own safety midgame. The war up front gave way to some big plays on the ground, mainly for Cafecito and Bert.
The two emerged early on as contenders for the game’s Most Valuable Puppy Award, but they would ultimately be beat out by Gina, a Labrador retriever and chow chow mix. A fierce competitor for Team Ruff, Gina was the lone pup to sprint onto the field in pregame introductions. Her confidence and speed served her well throughout the game, particularly when she beat two defenders to the pile-on for her second touchdown of the afternoon.
The score was tied at 35 heading into the half. After a breathtaking performance of “Catnips Don’t Lie” by Jenni-Pur Lopez and Catira, both teams looked to separate coming out of the intermission. However, it wouldn’t be a simple task for either squad.
Mocha led Team Ruff in the third quarter. On top of drilling the game’s only field goal, she provided an electric, Johnny Manziel-like play in Fluff territory. After dropping back in the pocket, the New York City product eluded two tacklers, but accidentally ran into her own offensive linemen in the process. Mocha kept the play alive, though, by bouncing to the outside and swerving away from the remaining defense for a touchdown.
Still, the game was closely contested at the end of the third, with Team Fluff only able to take a four-point lead heading into the final quarter. The fans in a sold-out Geico Stadium weren’t complaining about the narrow margin, considering they were about to witness one of the greatest conclusions to a Puppy Bowl in recent memory.
Down four with 20 seconds remaining, Krumpet led Team Ruff down the field to fetch a 59-56 lead. In the midst of their celebration, however, Team Fluff’s Rocky Road slipped into the endzone right as the clock hit triple zero. In the game’s most crucial moment, Rocky Road stayed as cool as the ice cream he’s so appropriately named after and willed his team to the 63-59 victory.
For Team Ruff, the postgame ceremony was one of devastation. For Team Fluff, it was one of endless tail-wagging. Fluff captain Theodore hoisted the Lombarky Trophy as his teammates howled for minutes on end. Team Fluff had done it. They had made history, and they had marked their territory on this series.
Team Fluff and Team Ruff are set to square off again on Feb. 7, 2021 in Puppy Bowl XVII.
Connor Griffin is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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