Hollywood Finish: Rams Take the Super Bowl in L.A.


Associated Press

Super Bowl MVP Cooper Kupp celebrates the Rams Super Bowl win on Sunday with his wife and two children.

Quinn Sheehan, Contributing Writer

Of the many predictions for Super Bowl LVI before the season, very few, if anyone, saw the Los Angeles Rams and Cincinnati Bengals playing for it all in February. However, with the way this entire NFL season has played out, this unexpected Super Bowl matchup was fitting. Most predicted the Rams to be a competitive football team this season with the addition of star quarterback Matthew Stafford from the Detroit Lions, but a Super Bowl appearance still seemed like a stretch for them at many points throughout the season, especially during their midseason skid. However, with a star-studded roster, great coaching from Sean McVay, and a season for the ages by wide receiver Cooper Kupp, they were able to battle their way to the big game. 

The Bengals were an even bigger surprise as they went from having the worst record in the league two seasons ago and not even having a playoff win since 1991 to playing on football’s biggest stage. Quarterback Joe Burrow, coming off a season-ending knee injury last year, came back better than ever, and with the help of wide receiver Ja’Mar Chase’s incredible rookie year, the emergence of both wide receiver Tee Higgins and running back Joe Mixon, and players stepping up in crucial situations, Cincinnati reached their first Super Bowl since 1988.

The Rams came into the game as slight favorites and were even playing in front of their home crowd in Los Angeles, but the game was expected to be tightly contested and likely to come down to the last few minutes. Many were excited to see a new champion crowned as the Rams had not won a championship since 2000 and the Bengals had never won one. The Rams had a chance to avenge their humiliating 3 point performance in Super Bowl LIII against the Patriots and the Bengals were hoping to curb their reputation as lovable losers and establish themselves as a future dynasty. The stakes were high and everything was on the line in SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles. The only thing left to do was to play the game.

The Rams started with the ball and proceeded to punt on their first drive and the Bengal’s first drive ended with the same result. The Rams would be much more efficient with their next drive as they drove down the field into Cincinnati territory and finished off the drive with a 17-yard touchdown from Stafford to Odell Beckham Jr. The Bengals would respond with a big play from Joe Burrow to Ja’Mar Chase which set them up in field goal range. However, the drive would stall and they would settle for a 29-yard field goal from Evan McPherson. By the end of the first quarter, the score was 7-3 with the advantage going L.A.’s way, but the Rams came out hungry at the start of the second quarter. They would once again drive down the field and score a touchdown, this time with Stafford completing one to Cooper Kupp for 11 yards. However, punter Johnny Hecker would fumble the snap on the extra point attempt which forced him to try and throw the ball which ended in an interception keeping the score at 13-3 Rams. Cincinnati responded with a great drive of their own getting within the Rams 10-yard line before Joe Mixon tossed a 6-yard touchdown to Tee Higgins on a trick play. The game then went into halftime with a score of 13-10 with the Rams in front. Despite the lead, the Rams still suffered a major loss in the second quarter as wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. went down with a knee injury, which was later revealed to be a torn ACL, and did not return to the game.

It was then time for the famed Super Bowl halftime show which, this year, was headlined by Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Mary J Blige, Eminem, and Kendrick Lamar. The show seemed to resonate with all audiences as there was something for both the younger and older generations and for the first time in Super Bowl halftime show history, hip-hop took center stage. Even 50 Cent made a quick cameo and the audience was into the show as videos of LeBron James, Kanye West, and others enjoying the performance surfaced. After the show concluded, it was back to football.

The Bengals received the second-half kickoff and immediately started the half off with a bang as Burrow connected with Tee Higgins for a huge 75-yard touchdown where many believed that Higgins illegally interfered with cornerback Jalen Ramsey as Ramsey fell to the ground. Still, the touchdown stood and the Bengals suddenly found themselves up 17-13. Right after that, Matthew Stafford threw an interception on the Rams offensive play of the second half and the Bengals took over deep in L.A. territory. However, the offense would stall and Burrow was sacked on third down forcing the Bengals to settle for a 38-yard field goal. Still, Cincinnati led 20-13 in the second half of the Super Bowl attempting to capture their franchise’s first win in the big game. The rest of the game turned into a defensive battle as the Bengal’s offensive line began to crumble as Burrow was sacked repeatedly on key plays and the Rams struggled to get anything going as well apart from a 41-yard field goal from Matt Gay. Going into the final stretch in the fourth quarter, Cincinnati led 20-16 but Los Angeles held the ball. Stafford then conducted a masterful 15 play go-ahead touchdown drive where he continually made clutch throws, especially to Cooper Kupp who also caught the touchdown which gave them the lead. However, with a minute and a half left and down 23-20, Burrow and the Bengals still had a shot. They were able to drive to midfield but were stopped on two straight plays where they only needed one yard to extend the drive and turned the ball over on downs securing the win for the Rams. 

Cooper Kupp took home the game’s MVP after an 8 catch, 92 yards, and two-touchdown performance. The celebration saw emotions flying as many players captured their first Super Bowl after years of heartbreak such as Matthew Stafford, Aaron Donald, and the injured Odell Beckham Jr. However, the craziest moment of the postgame celebration came when Rams wide receiver Van Jefferson heard the news that his wife was in labor and quickly had to leave the stadium with his children to attend the birth of his next child. 

This was the second Super Bowl victory in the history of the Rams and their first in Los Angeles as their first win came when they still played in St. Louis. The Bengals now have appeared in three Super Bowls throughout their history and have lost all three. However, the team is young and hungry so this should not be the last we see of the Bengals in the Super Bowl in the near future. When Hingham High School senior Pierce Bromley was asked why the Bengals lost the game he said, “I think it was because Eli Apple was too cocky and couldn’t back it up and the Bengals offensive line couldn’t protect Burrow if their lives depended on it. With the bad offensive line play and an amazing pass rush by the Rams, the Bengal’s offense slowed down and wasn’t able to convert on many downs”. The Rams now validate all the money they have spent in free agency and trade acquisitions in order to construct their star-studded team which will cost them many first-round picks in the future, but a Super Bowl ring legitimizes it all. 

Looking ahead to next season, the Kansas City Chiefs currently sit as the favorites to win next year’s Super Bowl followed by the Buffalo Bills, the Rams, and then the Bengals. When HHS senior Jake Monti was asked who he thinks will win the Super Bowl next year, he said, “I think the Chiefs will win because Mahomes and the rest of the team will come back with a vengeance after letting up that comeback in the AFC Championship”. Next season will hopefully be just as crazy and exciting as this year, but all we can do as fans right now is sit and wait patiently in anticipation.