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The game plan

“They say cuteness wins championships, but that’s only half the battle. Once cuteness gets you selected to play, it’s QUICKNESS that wins the game. Too often players are distracted by the lights, the sounds, the toys, the water bowl, the beautiful green turf just asking to be peed on. All it takes is a quick move from an enterprising pup to snatch the ball and run it in for a TD,” he says.
(Photo: Leah Neuberth/Yahoo Entertainment)

On the set of Puppy Bowl XIV

This Sunday marks one of the biggest sporting events of the year — the Puppy Bowl, of course. We went behind the scenes of Puppy Bowl XIV, and it was even cuter than you might’ve imagined. Ninety-two puppies from 51 shelters across the country competed for the title of MVP (Most Valuable Puppy), and we had the chance to see them in action. Teams Ruff and Fluff spread out across the bone-shaped field to carry toys across the end zone, taking nap and water breaks as needed. The water-bowl and lick-cams documented every wet nose and slurp, so fans can get up close and personal with their favorite players.

Although we couldn’t get enough of the puppies, the game isn’t just about them. Dan Schachner returns to the field for his seventh year as the Puppy Bowl referee. We left him with a few questions to answer before the big game, which airs simultaneously on both coasts Feb. 4 at 3 p.m. ET/noon PT on Animal Planet.