INGLEWOOD (News4usonline) – Just like the way they’ve played down the stretch of the regular season and through a couple of games in the postseason, the Los Angeles Rams would have to win their Super Bowl LVI matchup with the Cincinnati Bengals the hard way.
Sean McVay’s ballclub showed off the resilient manner in which the Rams have been able to win playoff games against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the San Francisco 49ers. You can add the Bengals to that list now.
“I would say this, I think the biggest thing that I’ve realized about this group is that you’re reminded of your real purpose,” Sean Mcvay said. “There’s a difference between passion and purpose. The purpose is when you’re doing it because you want to see the other people that you love and care so much about succeed more than yourself. Everybody’s got some innately selfish things, but I am so proud to be associated with this group.”
Just like in those victories, the Rams would need a surge from their defense and some timely passing from quarterback Matthew Stafford to lead the way.
Struggling for much of the second half, Stafford and the Rams came through when it mattered with a game-winning drive that would hold up for a 23-20 win. Stafford and the Rams got the championship trophy they had been seeking all season.
Thanks to his 1-yard toss to Cooper Kupp and Aaron Donald closing out the game by forcing Cincinnati quarterback Joe Burrow into an incomplete pass on fourth down late in the game, the Rams being crowned champions became official.
“This team is as mentally tough of a team that I’ve ever been on,” Rams safety Eric Weddle said after the game. “To be able to have the ebbs and flows of a game over the last five weeks, the games we have been a part of have been pretty wild and crazy but we’ve never wavered and we’ve never stopped believing and it started with our head coach and the leaders on this team of just one play at a time mindset and staying in the moment and especially for us older guys. We know how hard it is to get here for some of us, and this is my first right, and it took me 15 years to get here.”
SoFi Stadium is the home of the Rams. But looking around the stadium before the start of Super Bowl LVI, the atmosphere felt like a road game for Los Angeles. The number of fans dressed in their Black and orange shouting out “Who Dey,” seem to far outnumber those representing Rams Nation.
The environment, beginning with the singing of “Lift Every Voice,” the Black National Anthem, was electric. In belting out this historic musical masterpiece, gospel duo Mary Mary brought out the spirit of the ancestors with their soulful rendition. It gave this writer goosebumps as it always does when you count the history behind it.
Now, on to the game that was played between the Rams and the upstart Bengals. It was classic Old School in the form of Stafford slinging it out with Burrow, the new kid on the block. All Burrow and the Bengals have done in the postseason was take out the Oakland Raiders, Tennessee Titans, and the Kansas Chiefs.
The contest featured one team loaded with the stars. The other team has just a bunch of guys that were out to prove they belong on the biggest stage in sports. Reality finally met up with the two weeks of hype accompanying the game.
But not before Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson brought a dash of Hollywood and the WWF theatrics to the game with his pregame hyperbole. The Rams were expected to be here. The Bengals were not. The Rams basically have an All-Star team with Stafford, Kupp, Donald, Jalen Ramsey, Von Miller, and Odell Beckham Jr.
After a sizzling start, the Rams lost Beckham for the game after the star wide receiver sustained a knee injury. and for whatever reason, the Rams’ offense seemed to sputter after that.
The Bengals came into the game riding the cool demeanor of Burrow. That coolness was put to the test after the Rams tacked two touchdowns on the scoreboard and jumped out to a 13-3 lead at the beginning of the second quarter.
Well, as they showed against Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs in the AFC title game when they rallied from an 18-point halftime deficit, Burrow and the Bengals didn’t flinch, answering the ball on their next possession, going the length of the field to cut into the Rams’ lead. All they needed was to integrate a trick play near the goal line.
When Cincinnati running back Joe Mixon hit Tee Higgins with a 6-yard pass, the Rams now found themselves in a tight game. With an interception thrown by Stafford in the second quarter, the Bengals had momentum and swag on their side going into intermission.
And that carried over into the third quarter with Burrow hitting Wiggins for a 75-yard touchdown pass on the Bengals’ first play from scrimmage. Just like that, the Rams were down 17-13. No, these Bengals were not going to go away without a fight.
If that was not enough of a hummer for the Rams, Stafford’s next pass was intercepted, giving the Bengals another opportunity to put more points on the board. A Donald sack of Burrow negated Cincinnati from going up by double-digits. The Bengals would get a field goal instead of a touchdown out of the Stafford interception.
The Bengals now had a 20-13 lead. With the flow of the game swinging in the direction of the Bengals, the Rams needed to get their act together if they didn’t want to lose on their home turf. The Rams found that swerve just in the nick of time.
Stafford’s touchdown to Kupp erased the Rams’ deficit and put them back on top. Donald saw to it that it stayed that way.
“We had made a third-down stop,” Donald said in a postgame interview. “Fourth down, I thought they would run, but they dropped back to pass. Found a way to get the chop-club and bend the edge and found a way to get to the quarterback and make him threw an errand pass. I actually tried to get the ball out, but he threw it up so I was a little nervous at first. It was a huge play.”
Featured Image Caption: Los Angeles Rams defensive lineman Aaron Donald (99) comes up with the play of the game against Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow (9). Photo credit: Mark Hammond/News4usonline
Dennis is the editor and publisher of News4usonline. He covers sports, social and racial justice, politics, equal rights, and entertainment. Dennis has over two decades of journalism experience. He earned a degree in journalism from Howard University. “I write what I’m passionate about.”