7 min read

Recap: Cutest Moments From the 2022 Puppy Bowl



While the football world was getting ready for the biggest showdown in human sports, animal lovers across the world were tuning in for Puppy Bowl XVIII, the biggest sporting event in dogdom! Featuring over 100 contenders from rescues and shelters all over the country, this year’s Puppy Bowl was full of exciting runs, furbulous touchdowns, and cuteness galore!

Did Team Ruff keep their championship title, or did Team Fluff steal the win? Who was crowned MVP? And who got a penalty for illegal bathing? Get the answers to all this and more in this recap of the 2022 Puppy Bowl! Puppies get ready to rumble! 

Puppy Bowl Opening Ceremonies

For the 18th year of the Puppy Bowl, these contenders brought it all! And with so much celebrity help, they were sure to play a game to remember! From returning hosts and coaches Martha Stewart for Team Ruff and Snoop Dogg for Team Fluff who kicked off the extravaganza with a call to “Raise the Woof!”, to First Lady Dr. Jill Biden and First Pup Commander wishing us a Happy Valentine’s Day, this Puppy Bowl was sure to be one for the ages!

Elmo and his rescue pup Tango kicked off the game with a coin toss, and the puppies were off!

And on to the game!

We’ve seen many Puppy Bowls with some pawsome MVPs over the years, but Puppy Bowl XVIII is sure to go down in history! So many furbulous players, so many touchdowns, and a score that was too close to call throughout the entire game. Both teams were out for glory, and it was clear that neither side would accept a loss. Last year’s champions Team Ruff proudly defended their title, but Team Fluff wasn’t backing down for a moment.

Right out of the gate, Wes, a Golden Retriever mix from Team Fluff, was instantly in defense mode, and began barking back the other players. But Surf from Team Ruff, an Australian Shepherd/Poodle mix, responded with a big bark of his own and ran Wes right off the field. This would begin a rivalry that would come back to haunt these pups later in the game.

Team Fluff wouldn’t be put down so easily, though, and with Birch hitting the field, the tables would turn. Despite Surf’s “Illegal use of paws to the face,” this little Chihuahua/Toy Fox Terrier mix stood up to the big, fluffy Aussie, and scored the first touchdown of the game!

The puppy cheerleaders went wild!

Itching for more highlights?? Check out these top pup plays of the game!

  • The tiny pups were out to show they can run with the big dogs and win as Squeak, a gorgeous Pom/Chi mix teamed up with Birch to help him score another touchdown in the middle of the 1st, making Birch an early MVP contender.

  • When Chorizo hit the field, tempers flared as this giant-eared Dachshund/Am. Staff was ready to take down Team Ruff’s Pug Moby and American Foxhound/Corgi mix Ellington. These pups were instant rivals, and ended the 1st with touchdowns by Ellington and Chorizo respectively, making the score 21 – 7 for Team Fluff!

  • Controversy ensued as Maisie, Ruff’s Chi/Dachshund, and Minnie, a Border Collie/German Shepherd from Team Fluff, fought for the ball in the 2nd! Despite Minnie's attempts to paw the ball away, Maisie managed to kick a field goal for Team Ruff! Upon a review of the replay, however, the Ref concluded it had fallen just short of the endzone. Team Ruff barked heavily in response, and Maisie, not to be defeated, grabbed another toy, dodged her rival Minnie, and took off down the field for a touchdown which put Team Ruff in the lead 24 – 21!

  • When Kirby hit the field, we began to see the historic rise of a champion! A Houston, Texas service dog in training, this 20-week-old Lab quickly jumped right in and grabbed a ball to score a touchdown for Team Fluff, bringing them back into the lead at 28 – 24!

  • At the end of the 2nd, we saw another rivalry in the making as Team Fluff’s Baxter, a side-eyeing Pug, was stopped from hoarding all the balls by Team Ruff’s Ted D. Bear, the Goldendoodle with all the moves! Ted D. Bear tackled him again and again. But despite a penalty for “Ruffing the Pugger,” Ted D. Bear kept the momentum going and grabbed another ball to give Ruff the lead with a touchdown! Team Ruff 31 – 28!

  • Opening the 3rd quarter was another interteam dispute as Team Ruff’s Conchita chest bumped her teammate Scout to the ground looking for personal glory. This Dachshund/Chow mix was half the size of the Pitbull/Norwegian Elkhound, but her spritely energy gave her the drive to dodge Team Fluff’s players and kick a field goal, widening the gap in the scoreboard. Team Ruff 34 – 28.

  • While teammates kept Conchita busy downfield, Kirby executed one of the most exciting plays of the game! With plays called out by Fluff’s Basset Hound/Shih Tzu mix Dinozzo, Kirby took off down the field to cross one endzone, then headed back the other way for a stunning Double Reverse Touchdown, bringing Team Fluff back into the lead and cementing his place as contender for the MVP title! Team Fluff 35 – 34!

  • Tensions ran high as Ruff’s Scout and Fluff’s Sky, an Australian Cattle Dog/Am. Bulldog mix, battled it out on the field for the pawfect position, throwing paw punches and pancake blocks. This allowed Benny, the Poodle on wheels, a chance to command the field unhindered and score a field goal for Team Fluff! This special needs pup in Fluff’s starting line-up was out to show he was no underdog! Team Fluff 38 – 34!

  • With so much pup tension by mid-3rd quarter, penalties were flying! Alaskan Malamute/Chow mix Glaze stopped play by guarding the bowl from the thirsty athletes with two paws in! While she was getting a penalty for “Illegal bathing”, rival player Scout stole the Ref’s flag causing a timeout and another penalty for “Terrorizing the Ref.”

  • Time was running out in the 3rd, and both teams knew they had to make some puptastic plays to win the trophy. Ted D. Bear stepped up to the challenge, scoring 2 touchdowns for Team Ruff, and becoming an MVP contender! But Kirby, the superstar of the game, wouldn’t be left behind, and in another spectacular play, scored a Double Touchdown after running 200 yards in one play! Team Fluff 52 – 48!

  • At the top of the 4th, these pups could taste the win! With both sides matching each other play for play, it was anyone’s game! Chorizo jumped back in for a touchdown early on, with Odell Barkingham, Team Ruff’s black-coated Beagle/Chow mix, using pancake tackles and big dog intimidation to clear the field for a touchdown to keep that gap close. Team Fluff 59 – 55!

  • In this last quarter, the scoreboard looked like a pinball bouncing back and forth! Wasabi, a tiny Chi/Cocker Spaniel mix, scored for Team Fluff, then it was back to Banjo, an Am. Staff/Australian Shepherd mix, for Team Ruff. Fluff’s Mallorie tried to keep Ruff’s Odell Barkingham and Odin busy, but Odell won out with a pancake pin and scored again for Team Ruff! Team Ruff 69 – 66!

  • The pup cheerleaders and virtual spectators worldwide were on the edge of their seats! The score was too close to call, and the last play would win it all! Fluff’s Surf kept Ruff’s Biff busy, while Ruff’s long-haired Chi Emmylou covered Fluff’s Wes. Chorizo seized the opportunity to take hold of a toy, dodge Ruff’s Moby, and run 100 yards for the game winning touchdown! Team Fluff takes the win 73 – 69!!

white dog with tan ears laying on field with football - puppy bowl

And the winners are…

Team Fluff!! In a pawmazing game, Team Fluff wrangled their championship title back from Team Ruff, and took home the Puppy Bowl XVIII Chewy Lombarky Trophy!

But that’s not all!

Who was the Most Valuable Pup of the game? While Birch scored 2 touchdowns, Ted D. Bear scored 4, and Chorizo, who wasn’t in the running for the viewer chosen title scored 3, it was Kirby who won the hearts of fans across the world! For this service pup’s constant pawrific plays and furrific timing, as well scoring a double touchdown and double reverse touchdown, Kirby was crowned the MVP of Puppy Bowl XVIII!

Chorizo won the Drive of the Day with his fancy footwork and small size that kept Team Ruff in the lead throughout the first quarter.

And remember Benny, the dog on wheels? This Goldendoodle who was born with fused vertebrae that affected his back legs proved to be quite the contender, earning a field goal for his team and winning the hearts of millions. Benny was voted the Most Pupular pup, and shed light on how much a dog with a disability can achieve. Go Benny!

Support for the Pups!

Not all the pups were ready for action, and some were too fired up to focus on the ball. Some pups got a celebrity locker room pup talk to help them get back in the game, such as Elmo and Tango who helped Wasabi, and Tayce who got fired up by Wanda Sykes.

The Kitten Half-time Show allowed the pups a break from gameplay, and gave the viewers a whole lotta cuteness to enjoy! This year’s theme was a beach party, and the kittens were relaxing in their beachside seats and pools just their size, ducking in and out of sandcastles, kicking beach balls, digging in the sand, and playing with a myriad of toys. All adoptable rescues from Pack Leaders Rescue of Connecticut, these felines were hamming it up for a chance to find their furever family!

As for this year’s underachievers, the Underdog Award went to Mr. Tinkles, a fluffy Shih Tzu/Pekingese who spent his time on the field hiding behind an endzone pylon which earned him a “Wallflowering” penalty. You’ll get em’ next time, Mr. Tinkles!

It’s all about the rescues!

The Puppy Bowl isn’t just about pawdorble puppies cavorting for our pleasure- it’s about shedding light on the plight of homeless animals everywhere. Each Puppy Bowl player is drafted from rescues and shelters across the country, and Animal Planet pairs with each one to ensure that every single animal in the Puppy Bowl fulfills their Cinderella destinies and finds their furever home.  

While many of the pups you see on game day have already been adopted, some of them are waiting in the wings or have siblings that are also waiting for someone to love. 

Ready to adopt? Check out the Animal Planet and Discover+ adoptable pet link to find pups and kittens featured on the show, or reach out to these pawrific rescues where the players of the bowl were drafted to find your new best furry pal!

What? The Puppy Bowl is over?

The next batch of pups for Puppy Bowl XIX have some big paws to fill, but we’ll be waiting to watch them in all their furry glory. If you can’t get enough of puppy-on-puppy action, make your own gridiron and invite local athletic pups to compete in your own Puppy Bowl!

To help your canine MVP shine, train them like a Puppy Bowl athlete! Book an in-home session with a dog trainer today to get your furry pal on the road to victory!

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