Ode to the Puppy Bowl

It began with “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

From there, the players eagerly took the field and the refs were in full force. The audience anxiously awaited this annual test of athleticism.

In case you’re mistaken, I’m not talking about Super Bowl XLVII. Instead, Sunday’s must-see TV was Animal Planet’s ninth Puppy Bowl.

Complete with hedgehog cheerleaders, a kitten halftime show and MVPs (Most Valuable Pups), it was well worth watching.

There was even a hometown hero to root for: Fitz, a 10-week-old Catahoula mix from New Jersey. According to his bio, he “prefers Bon Jovi to the Boss.” But most importantly, he was the cutest pup participating — which really says a lot.

Puppy contenders from all over the U.S. play their hearts out in Animal Planet’s ninth Puppy Bowl. Highlights include hedgehog cheerleaders and a kitten halftime show. (AP Photo)

It’s hard to pinpoint the highlight of the Puppy Bowl. From the Bowl Cam (showing the view anytime a pup took a water break) to the puppy pool (where players could cool down), there was just so much adorableness. Seriously, there were penalties for “excessive cuteness.”

Another plus? There was no half-hour power outage. The action of the Puppy Bowl was non-stop. Personally I’d much rather watch adorable animals chase each other around than see grown adults fight over a football.

In all fairness, the Puppy Bowl was missing one thing … Beyoncé!

I’ll admit I only watched the actual Super Bowl very briefly, and that was solely to see B’s performance. She did not disappoint, shutting down the stadium — literally and figuratively. From the crazy light show to a Destiny’s Child reunion, Beyoncé was the night’s true winner.

Speaking of winners, I suppose the Ravens do deserve a shout out. But in my opinion, another animal stole their thunder on Sunday — the puppies.

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