Super Bowl LVI comes calling for the Rams

INGLEWOOD (News4usonline) – At the end of the day, stars do matter. The Los Angeles Rams have them. And they needed every single one of their prime-time players to help them get over the hump to make it to Super Bowl LVI.

Quarterback Matthew Stafford threw for 337 yards and a pair of touhdowns to wide receiver Cooper Kupp. Kupp zig-zagged his way to 11 catches for 143 yards. Odell Beckham Jr. was on the other side of Kupp hauling in nine passes for 113 yards. There was Aaron Donald being his disruptive self on the last series for the Rams’ defense.

Oh yeah, we didn’t forget Matt Gay booting the game-winning field goal. The Rams needed every single of those performances to beat the San Francisco 49ers 20-17 in the NFC Championship Game and advance to the Big Game.

“Today was a great sign of resilience,” Rams head coach Sean McVay said. “We talked about that’s one of the things that’s kind of embodied this group. You go down 17-7, doesn’t look good. But the guys just stayed in the moment. One play at a time.

“Did a great job,” McVay added. “Defense to be able to close it out, especially after the last time we played them, the way that went. There were just so many great plays today by great players, and just really happy to be associated with these guys and we’ve got one more.”

The fourth quarter of the championship came came down to two things for the Rams. The Rams entered the period down 10 points and looking very much like a prize fighter on the ropes trying to stave off elimination.

January 30, 2022. Los Angeles Rams running back back Cam Akers (23) looks for running room against the San Francisco 49ers during the NFC Championship Game played at SoFi Stadium. Photo credit: Mark Hammond/News4usonline

But doing what champions do, the Rams summoned every ounce of fiber in their will to kick in gear what they needed to do to boot the 49ers out of their house to advance to the Super Bowl.

The rubber match in the trilogy of the three games played against the 49ers this season, the Rams got Stafford to make the plays he needed to make. After playing his his first 12 seasons with the Detroit Lions, Stafford has helped this season to be a special one for the Rams, guiding them to their second Super Bowl in the last four years (2018).

He was able to do that by throwing for 207 yards in the second half of the ballgame. For the second game in a row in this postseason, Stafford led the Rams down the field for the game-winning score.

“Long time coming,” Stafford said. “Spent a lot of years in this league and loved every minute of it. I feel blessed to be able to play in this league for as long as I have. But I sure am happy for this opportunity for not only myself but really so many guys in that locker room that deserve this too. That’s what it is. It’s an opportunity to go out there and win another one.”

After Stafford did his thing, it took the defense to show up and to lock everything down, meaning taking out Deebo Samuel and rendering quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo into a not so confident player lining up under center.

The Rams didn’t sack Garoppolo one time in the game, but they sure made his life in the pocket miserable, especially at the end of the game.

January 30, 2022. Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp (10) caught 11 passes for 143 yards and two touchdowns during the Rams’ 20-17 win against the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship Game. Photo credit: Mark Hammond/News4usonline

Garoppolo threw for 232 yards, but the Rams defense finished what they were not able to do in Week 18 when they played the 49ers. On San Francisco’s final series, Donald got to Garoppolo and forced the Niners’ quarterback into an errant throw which was intercepted by Travin Howard.

“Third-and-13, it just looked like (DL) Aaron (Donald) got in there fast and [Garoppolo] tried to break away, and tried not to take a sack to make it fourth-and-20 or whatever it would have been. And that happens. You get in a situation there and those guys are going to tee off and I thought we had a great chance of not getting into that situation. But credit to them and that’s why they’re still playing.”

The Rams got those 337 yards passing and two touchdowns from Stafford, who engineered the game-winning drive for the Rams that culminated with placekicker Gay knocking a 30-yard field goal through the uprights.

The Rams were not out of the woods yet. That Week 18 game was a stern reminder of this when the Rams jumped out to a 17-0 lead only to see the Garoppolo and the 49ers roar back to clinch a 27-24 overtime win at SoFi Stadium.

During that Week 18 contest, the Rams, after seeing San Francisco tie the game at 17-17, scored a late touchdown and appeared to be on their way to a 24-17 win against their division rivals. The 49ers said not so fast and came up with their own late score to send the game into overtime.

So when Garoppolo and the 49ers got the ball back with a little more than a minute remaining in the championship game, Raheem Morris’ defense made sure that this time around there would not be a repeat scenario. This time, Garoppolo and the 49ers were on the losing end of the stick.

“That’s a tough way to end it,” Garoppolo said. “Especially the way we battled the whole game. We knew it was going to be a dogfight. It always is against these guys. It’s a tough one.”

It took seven games, but the Rams final did away with that six-game win streak San Francisco was holding over them. But that’s not the viewpoint that McVay had. The moment at hand was that a Super Bowl berth was on line. Worrying about a losing streak was not on his mind, McVay said.

“We didn’t really look at it like that,” remarked McVay. “We looked at just being in this moment, taking care of this game today. It was the NFC Championship. Huge game. Our guys did a great job. And each game is its own separate entity. And I’m really just happy those guys got it done today.”

Featured Image: Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) makes a throw against the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship Game. Photo credit: Mark Hammond/News4usonline