Puppy Bowl XVII: Team Ruff escapes with a narrow 73-69 win

Puppy Bowl XVII. Photo credit: discovery+ /Animal Planet / Elias Weiss Friedman
Puppy Bowl XVII. Photo credit: discovery+ /Animal Planet / Elias Weiss Friedman /

Puppy Bowl XVII (Puppy Bowl 17) was bigger and better than ever this year, even if things were less than ideal at first.

Because of the pandemic, the normal Manhattan studio the event is filmed in wouldn’t work (no room for social distancing), so instead they filmed over a full week in a hockey arena in upstate New York.

This allowed room for banners of previous MVPs, a bigger and better field and Temptations skybox for the kitty fans, and lots of room for the human crew as well.

Puppy Bowl referee Dan Schachner was back for the 10th time overseeing the event, which saw far more penalties than usual.

Which team triumphed in Puppy Bowl XVII?

70 dogs took part in the game from 22 shelters in nine states, but as always the faced off against the Fluffers for the Chewy Lombarky Trophy (which also got a redesign this year).

New this year were play-by-play from Monday Night Football announcer Steve Levy and commentary by SportsCenter anchor Sage Steele, and hosting duties were done by Martha Stewart and Snoop Dogg.

The game started out with Team Ruff’s Archer the pit bull getting a penalty for chewing the padding off one of the goalposts, and then his teammate Muffin the terrier mix scored the game’s first touchdown from about 65 yards away.

Team Fluff’s Marshall the Boston Terrier, one of the only purebreds in the game and winner of the fan-vote Pupularity Playoffs the week before the game, scored a rare double touchdown to give his team a 14-7 advantage halfway through the first quarter.

There were also offsetting penalties to Team Fluff’s Chunky Monkey the Maltese/Chow Chow and Team Ruff’s Lucy the Beagle/Coonhound, for excessive sleeping and trash barking, respectively. Muffin and Marshall also tussled three different times, as big defense was the name of the game early on in Puppy Bowl XVII.

Milky Way upped the Fluff lead to 21-7 after several tussles with Paulie the pit bull, Fluff’s Ariel the Husky practiced her tackling on Ruff’s Hashbrown, and then Paulie scored a touchdown from 35 yards away.

In the second quarter, Hashbrown got into another wrestling match with Ariel before tying the game with a tricky 95 yard fake-out gallop, while Ruff team captain Cream the Lab mix got distracted by all the pretty cheerleaders on the sidelines. Ariel was later penalized for unpuppylike conduct.

Team Fluff regained the lead with some good teamwork, as Sonic found the end zone after his pit bull teammate Vinnie blocked out Ruff defenders.

Pit bull/Husky litter siblings Bingo and Bluey entered the game around this point, prompting getting into a squabble where Bingo was penalized for yanking off his sister’s bandanna.

Golden Retriever Beliveau, named for Montreal Canadiens legend Jacques Beliveau and the only other purebred in the game aside from Marshall, scored a 95 yard touchdown to extend Fluff’s lead to 35-21. He also tackled/bodychecked Ruff players all day on defense with a sneaky butt swivel attack.

Fluff Great Pyrenees/Border Collie mix Erica chilled out in the corner of the field, content to watch the action rather than actually participate.

Ruff’s Fletcher the Beagle/pit bull scored on a five-yard tug of war to trim the lead to 35-28, and then the Boxer/Rottweiler mix Tank booted a field goal to make the score Fluff 35, Ruff 31 at halftime.

Puppy Bowl XVII halftime score: Team Fluff 35, Team Ruff 31.

In the second half, Fozzie, the Norwegian Elkhound from Team Fluff, was called for a penalty for pancaking opponents into the carpet, and Dwight the Lab mix of Team Ruff took advantage of the momentum to scheme his way into the end zone with the football chew toy.

But Fluff regained the lead, 42-38, not long after when Beliveau pulled the green rope snake across the goal line in a tug of war battle. Then his teammate Mary Anne the Boxer mix scampered 45 yards for a touchdown to put them up 49-38.

Bingo drilled a field goal from 45 yards away (an unheard of distance for puppy football), and then Ruff’s Paulie got back into the action, getting into a tussle with Fluff’s Aaron Pawdgers and scored from 15 yards out as the third quarter ended with Beliveau taking the pineapple toy for a touchdown with Fluff leading 59-45.

Double amputee Jett the Lab/GSP mix kicked a three-yard field goal for Team Fluff to make it 62-45. Ruff’s Tank then took the turkey toy 40 yards into the end zone, and Beliveau scored yet another touchdown after winning a tug of war with both Tank and Lionel.

Ruff’s Jay was called for a penalty for roughing the pupper, and Tank scored again, slipping past Beliveau to cut the deficit to 10 points, 69-59.

Then Muffin got back into the action, running 60 yards with the yellow rope to bring Ruff within three points with less than a minute to go.

Milky Way put up a solid goal line stand to defend the Fluff lead, but Paulie was the hero as he spun the other way and ran clear across the field as time expired to give Team Ruff a 73-69 win.

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Taking the Subaru Underdog Award this year was Erica the Border Collie/Great Pyrenees for her supreme disinterest in the game, while Marshall the Boston Terrier was named the Bissell Most Valuable Puppy by fans on Twitter.