By Morgan Thomas
The Los Angeles Rams get their Hollywood ending with a late TD to win 23-20 in Super Bowl LVI.
INGLEWOOD, CA - With only 1:25 remaining in the game, Matthew Stafford completed a pass for a touchdown to Cooper Kupp, the game's eventual MVP, to give the Rams their second Lombardi Trophy in team history.
It wasn't easy for the hometown team to get into the endzone. After scoring a touchdown on two of their first four drives, it took Stafford and the Rams eight drives to find the endzone again. Moving the ball became increasingly difficult when one of their best playmakers, Odell Beckham Jr., suffered a non-contact knee injury in the second quarter.
Rams Head Coach Sean McVay had to rely heavily on the hard-to-cover slot receiver Cooper Kupp to make plays late in the game. Kupp was targeted six times in the Rams final 15 play touchdown drive. Kupp's first go-ahead touchdown catch was called back due to offsetting penalties, however, the very next play McVay had Stafford go right back to Kupp for what would be the final touchdown of the game. Kupp finished the game with eight receptions for 92 yards and two receiving touchdowns.
"I don't feel deserving of this," Kupp said. "The guys standing here challenged me, they pushed me. I am just so grateful."
McVay set a record for himself Sunday night by becoming the youngest coach to win a Super Bowl in history at 36 years old.
Kupp and the Rams offense will get the awards for the game-winning drive but it's hard to argue against the fact that it was the Rams defense that made the difference late in the game. Defensive captain Aaron Donald teamed up brilliantly with Von Miller to again dominate the line of scrimmage. The defensive line for the Rams sacked Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow seven times, tying a Super Bowl record.
Burrow finished the game completing 22 of 33 passes for 263 total yards and was able to give his team the lead quickly after halftime on a 75-yard touchdown pass to former Clemson receiver Tee Higgins.
Higgins beat All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey on the play but after watching the replay, it was clear that he tugged on Ramsey just enough to get separation for the catch and score. The referees allowed the physical play to go and the Bengals went up 17-13. Higgins finished the game with four receptions for 100 yards and two touchdowns.
That play was followed by a defensive stop on the next play as Chidobe Awuzie intercepted Stafford. Burrow and the Bengals were not able to get into the endzone and had to settle for a field goal from Evan McPherson.
McPherson tied Adam Vinatieri's post-season record with 14 total field goals and looked comfortable all game. So comfortable that he did not go to the locker room during halftime and opted instead to watch the Halftime Show from the sidelines.
Turnovers are key in every big game and one of the key factors in this matchup. Stafford threw two interceptions in the game. The first was on a deep pass in the endzone for Van Jefferson and the second was on a tipped pass to Ben Skowronek. The Bengals did not fully capitalize on these opportunities, as they produced only three points off turnovers.
The Los Angeles Rams finished their season as Super Bowl LVI champions, beating the Cincinnati Bengals 23-20 in SoFi Stadium.
- Matthew Stafford finally gets his Super Bowl win after enduring a decade of failure in Detriot.
- Copper Kupp goes from an unranked recruit in college to Super Bowl MVP.
- Aaron Donald continues to add to his defensive legacy as a Rookie of the Year, eight-time Pro Bowl selection, three-time Defensive Player of the Year and now Super Bowl champion.
- Odell Beckham Jr. proved that he can perform at an elite level when he feels valued, however, he will now have to turn his attention to rehabbing another possible knee injury in the offseason.
- Joe Burrow has the skill players he needs around him to keep up with any team in the NFL.
- The Bengals still have issues to address on their offensive line if they are going to compete with the best defenses in the league.
- Tee Higgins and Ja'Marr Chase showed the world how dangerous they are in the passing game on the NFL's biggest stage.
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