In the team’s first year with Matthew Stafford at the helm, the Los Angeles Rams won its second ever Super Bowl. This powerful Rams offense has been closest thing to ‘The Greatest Show on Turf’ since Hall of Fame quarterback Kurt Warner was the signal caller.
While the game wasn’t pretty, the Rams found a way to win Super Bowl 56 in its home stadium. The team took the 23-20 lead with Cooper Kupp‘s second touchdown of the game. L.A.’s defense came up with the stop and secured the win for the team.
How the Game Played Out
Los Angeles relied heavily on its star players to secure the victory on Sunday. While no one thought Cincinnati would make it this far, the team was a more than worthy opponent. L.A. needed its key players in order to take down the Bengals.
The Rams scored first as Stafford found Odell Beckham Jr. for a 17-yard touchdown. Cincinnati was able to respond with a field goal, but Kupp found the end zone to extend the lead to 13-3. Joe Burrow led the Bengals 75 yards down the field and the Tee Higgins touchdown brought the game within 3.
The game hit halftime, and no team clearly had the momentum. Despite the Rams holding the lead for the whole first half, Cincinnati kept it close and even had a couple chances to take the lead.
The Bengals came out of halftime inspired as it only took the team two plays to take the lead and regain possession. Higgins beat star corner Jalen Ramsey deep to score a 75-yard touchdown to open the half. On the next play, a bobbled ball ended up in the hands of Chidobe Awuzie, and the underdogs had all of the momentum.
Former Gator Evan McPherson‘s second field goal of the game gave his team the 20-13 lead. With only a Rams field goal, the rest of the second half saw much less scoring on both sides. The Rams got the ball back with 6:13 left in the game, and the team was running out of opportunities.
With time dwindling, Stafford and Kupp took over to secure the lead for the team. The duo connected four times for 39 yards and the game-winning touchdown. Stafford found Kupp on the right sideline, and the team regained the lead. Despite solid coverage by the Bengals’ defense, they couldn’t find an answer for the Rams’ stars. Head coach Sean McVay recognized the Bengals efforts on the drive, but was grateful his players found a way to score.
With 1:25 and one timeout, the Bengals had one chance to answer. In five plays, the Rams ended the Bengals season and secured the Super Bowl victory for themselves. Star defensive lineman Aaron Donald dragged Burrow down as he was throwing to force the incompletion. Stafford kneeled the ball and the Rams became Super Bowl champions.
Rams Keys to Victory
While Kupp has had more impressive stat lines this season, he showed out when it mattered most. He had 8 catches for 92 yards and 2 touchdowns, good enough to earn him Super Bowl MVP honors. He even added on a 7 yard rush that picked up a crucial fourth down on the team’s game-winning touchdown drive.
Kupp’s performance was great, but it was in large part due to Stafford’s play in the game. The star quarterback had 283 yards, 3 touchdowns and 2 interceptions on the night. His night wasn’t perfect, but he shined when he was needed. He orchestrated a masterful drive along with Kupp’s help to give his team the lead late.
The offense was great, but the defense made numerous plays to help win the game for L.A. Specifically, the Rams pass rush made it difficult for Burrow to control the game. He had no time to throw with Donald and Von Miller breathing down his neck all night. Miller and Donald each had 2 sacks and 3 quarterback hits. Without their constant pressure, Burrow might have been able to dice up the Rams’ defense.
With the season coming to a close, it’s clear the Rams won the Stafford trade. Without the former Lion, the Rams likely would not have had such a high-powered offense. Los Angeles gave up a lot to acquire Stafford, but they likely don’t regret it now that they won the Super Bowl. McVay said Stafford’s performance shows why the team decided to trade for him in the first place.
All season long, the Rams have been one of the favorite to win it all. Their victory met the high expectations fans had and gave them the franchise its second Super Bowl.
Stafford was great, but Kupp’s historic season was just as important. Including the playoffs, the unanimous All-Pro wide receiver had 178 catches for 2,425 yards and 22 touchdowns. These numbers earned him Offensive Player of the Year and league-wide recognition.
While the Rams were always supposed to make it this far, the Bengals shocked the world. Even though the team fell short on Sunday, their appearance in the big game proves the team will be able to contend for years to come. Bengals coach head coach Zac Taylor said he was proud of the team despite the loss.
Los Angeles will now try to retain its key players and try to work back to the Super Bowl next year. Beckham and Miller are both free agents, while Donald and Andrew Whitworth have both mentioned the possibility of retirement. The team’s also may look to extend Stafford and keep him in the team’s long-term plans.
While there are plenty of question marks, the team is full of talent and it would be no surprise to see them back in the big game next season. Until then, the team will relish in the biggest win for the franchise in the past 20 years. McVay knows how important this win was and will celebrate the victory for now.