Sports: Rams Capture Elusive Second Super Bowl in Thrilling 23-20 Victory over the Cincinnati Bengals
by Aydn Morris
Despite the many hardships and adversity faced by the Rams, they overcame it all in dramatic fashion to capture the Super Bowl LVI title on their home field.
The Rams began the game in outstanding fashion, taking a 13-10 lead into halftime. Everything was looking promising for them, until star wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. suffered a huge non-contact knee injury.
Beckham started the game off with a dominant performance that had the potential to evolve into one that was worthy the Super Bowl Most Valuable Player award. At the time of the injury, he had two catches for 52 yards and a touchdown. However, this is not the first time Beckham has dealt with knee injuries in his career, as he suffered an ACL tear last year.
Although the loss of Beckham put a huge strain on the Rams offense, the team bounced back, showing why they deserved to be Super Bowl champions this year.
With the loss of Beckham, all of the pressure was set on quarterback Matthew Stafford, wide receiver Cooper Kupp and the defense for the Rams in the second half. This injury, combined with the powerhouse offense already suffering many key injuries, such as those to wide receiver Robert woods and tight end Tyler Higbee, the defense was the x-factor for the Rams.
The second half did not start off great for the Rams on both ends of the ball, as on the first play of the half, Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow threw a touchdown to wide receiver Tee Higgins for 75 yards over Rams star cornerback Jalen Ramsey. Although it resulted in a touchdown, there was a very controversial no-call on that play, as Tee Higgins pulled Ramsey to the floor to get open.
This resulted in the Bengals gaining a 17-13 lead over the Rams, where it only got worse for the Rams. Ten seconds later, Stafford threw an interception, deflecting of the hands of rookie wide receiver Ben Skowronek, giving the Bengals great field position on the Rams’ 31-yard line.
It did not seem like any of the receivers for the Rams wanted to step up in the second half besides the Offensive Player of the Year Cooper Kupp. Kupp showed why he deserved the Offensive Player of the Year award, as he had eight receptions for 92 yards and a key carry on a crucial fourth down conversion on the final drive.
Kupp and Stafford combined for one of the best, if not the best, fourth quarter offensive drives in Super Bowl history. The drive was a total of 15 plays, for 72 yards and left only 1:25 seconds on the clock for the Bengals. Fittingly, the drive ended with Kupp catching a 1-yard touchdown, his second of the game, following a controversial hold on the Bengals. This drive capped off an overall star performance from Kupp, which earned him the Super Bowl MVP.
Although the Bengals still had little over a minute left in the game with two timeouts, the Rams star-studded defense shut down any hope of a game-tying or game-winning drive. Three-time Defensive Player of the Year defensive tackle Aaron Donald made two key plays at the end of the drive. The first, on 3rd & 1 he stopped he stopped the rush, and on fourth down, he forced Burrow into an incompletion, clinching the victory for the Rams.
Aaron Donald may not have been seriously effective during the start of the game, but he will always have some impact at the end of the game, like he did in the NFC Championship game against the San Francisco 49ers. This playoff run may have cemented Donald’s legacy as one of the greatest defensive players of all time.
Every Super Bowl always leads to emotions for both teams, but this one had a different type of emotional set to it, as players such as Beckham and Stafford won after spending years playing for struggling franchises. Also, players such as Donald, Kupp and Ramsey got their first ring after years of heartbreaking playoff losses.
There were also many post-game celebrations, such as safety Taylor Rapp proposing to his fiancé during the celebration and wide receiver Van Jefferson rushing to the hospital to celebrate the birth of his second child.
Overall, the season for the Rams, who had gone all-in to win a Super Bowl, was a complete success, and they hope to get many of their injured players back and healthy to try to repeat next season.