Senior Staff Writer
The Los Angeles Rams became only the second team in NFL history to win the Super Bowl in their home stadium. Super Bowl LVI carried a load of emotion for many of the Rams veteran players looking to solidify their mark on the game of football. In the end, it was a 79-yard game-winning drive led by Quarterback Mathew Stafford and breakout star Wide Receiver Cooper Kupp that gave the Rams a 23-20 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals.
The Stafford-Kupp connection was at the forefront of the game-winning drive. Kupp racked up four receptions for 39-yards in the final drive, including the winning grab over Eli Apple in isolation on the right side of the endzone. Kupp’s catch solidified a dream season as he added the receiving triple crown, offensive player of the year, and Super Bowl MVP to his career resumé. The only other wide receiver to win all three awards was Jerry Rice; Kupp managed to do it in a single season. Kupp’s performance has been a highlight throughout the season, and it is only fitting that he solidified the championship for Los Angeles.
Although the offense ended the game in thrilling fashion, the Rams defense secured the victory. The two future Hall of Famers, Aaron Donald and Von Miller, exposed the Bengals front line on the biggest stage in football. The Rams defensive line racked up a Super Bowl tying record, seven sacks on Joe Burrow, which helped ice the Bengals offense in the second half. It was the Ram’s defense that covered up the offensive errors. The momentum heavily favored the Bengals as Stafford threw an interception immediately following a 75-yard touchdown reception by Tee Higgins to open up the second half. At that point, it looked like the championship was slipping away, but the defense was able to hold the Bengals to a critical field goal and keep it to a one-possession ball game. In the final seconds of the game, none other than Donald put the final nail in the coffin with one final pass rush on Burrow.
One of the main Super Bowl takeaways was Mathew Stafford and Odell Beckam Jr. finally getting their hands on the Lombardi trophy after an accumulated twenty-one years in the league. Before this year, the two players had shown undeniable greatness on the field year after year but never had the complimentary pieces needed to win games. Stafford spent twelve years in Detroit, unable to win a single playoff game, but after one season with the Rams, he walked away with a ring. Beckham’s lack of targets in Cleveland built-up frustration and criticism from the outside. With only nine games with the Rams, Beckham made an immediate impact and received his ring. The two stars were desperate to escape bad management and coaching; Los Angeles allowed them to show their talent and win games.
In recent years, the formula for winning Super Bowls has been aggressive trading and free agents but now, teams are starting to turn towards a ring chasing mindset. Teams are stacking their roster with a talent for short-term gain, searching for immediate Super Bowl-caliber success. Although this formula is not built for long-term sustainability, it has proven an efficient method to acquire a ring. The Rams and the Buccaneers were all-in in their Super Bowl pursuit the past two seasons, and both organizations came out on top. However, the Rams may have a tall task ahead of them for next season.
The aggressive ring chasing method brings many questions into the picture for the Rams organization in terms of the potential staff and roster for the 2022-23 season. Head coach Sean McVay has been in the news with rumors of possible retirement and transition into the broadcasting industry. Nothing has been confirmed, but there has also been no confirmation that McVay will coach next season. On top of that, The Rams have no picks in the first two draft rounds and are currently projected 10 million dollars over the salary cap. Nobody knows what the Rams organization will look like next year, but they will always be remembered as Super Bowl LVI champions.