Puppy Bowl kicks off on Animal Planet

Lily, a basset hound who lives in Sayville, Lily, a basset hound who lives in Sayville, is in the starting lineup for Animal Planet’s "Puppy Bowl X." Photo Credit: Animal Planet

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The tenth-annual Puppy Bowl on Animal Planet kicked off Sunday afternoon, pitting 66 pooches against one another for a big-time poochapalooza leading up to Sunday night's Super Bowl.

The two-hour program, which premiered at 3 p.m., featured rescue dogs from across the country --  including Lily, a basset hound who lives in Sayville -- playing on a mini-football field. 

Mandy, a 17-week-old dachshund-hound mix, scored the first touchdown, but it was Loren, a 14-week old Brittany Spaniel, that won over fans. She was voted Most Valuable Puppy.

But this year, more than one puppy can go home with the coveted title. Animal Planet will continue to replay the program until 5 a.m. Monday, giving fans a chance to vote for a different MVP for each airing.

In 2013, the event drew 12.4 million viewers. This year, referee Dan Schachner was back to keep the puppies in check, doling out puppy penalities such as "excessive cutness" and "unneccessary ruff ruff, ruff-ness." Ginger, the Old English sheepdog-boxer mix, racked up quite a few.

New York-area police dogs stood for the national anthem, penguins served as cheerleaders, and the halftime show featured the Web's Keyboard Cat and a parachuting kitten.

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On social media, fans could interact with "Meep the Bird" @MeepTheBird, who was tweeting from the sidelines, and upload photos of their Puppy Bowl parties to Instagram. Some of the pictures were displayed on TV during the broadcast.

Similar to the 2013 Super Bowl, there was a blackout at Purina Stadium during the third quarter of this year's Puppy Bowl. But the power was restored just in time for Mandy to light up the field, scoring her third touchdown, one shy of a Puppy Bowl record.

Throughout the program, one little terrier pup named Rudy remained on the sidelines, but fans took to Twitter using the hashtag #PlayRudy and the campaign paid off. Reenacting the ending of the 1993 film of the same name, Rudy finally made it into the game for the last few plays.

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