Cooper Kupp and costly penalties lead Rams to Super Bowl win


Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

Photo courtesy of Getty Images. The Los Angeles Rams celebrate after defeating the Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl LVI at SoFi Stadium on February 13, 2022 in Inglewood, Calif. The Los Angeles Rams defeated the Cincinnati Bengals 23-20.

On Sunday, Feb. 13, 2022, the Los Angeles Rams’ hyper-aggressive approach to roster construction finally paid off and the team won its first Super Bowl in twenty-two years. They have traded away every first-round draft pick they had since they traded up to draft former quarterback Jared Goff first overall, and they will not have a pick until at least 2024. Along with that, they have traded several other high draft picks, all to secure the best talent possible.

The second team in a row to play the Super Bowl at their home stadium and the first team ever to do so in front of an entire crowd, the Rams looked like they might walk all over the Cincinnati Bengals when they took an early ten-point lead. It all started when quarterback Matthew Stafford in his first year with the Rams after playing twelve years for the Detroit Lions and was traded in the offseason, threw a touchdown to midseason and signed Odell Beckham Jr. at the end first quarter to go up by seven. The Rams defense held Cincinnati to a field goal and gave the offense the ball back before the end of the quarter. With just under thirteen minutes left in the half, Stafford threw a touchdown to Cooper Kupp to give the Rams just a ten-point lead after a botched hold led to a missed point-after attempt.

Second-year quarterback Joe Burrow then led the Bengals to score seventeen points in a row to take a 20-13 lead over the Rams in the third quarter. Matthew Stafford threw two interceptions that immediately led to Bengals scoring drives. Tee Higgins caught two touchdowns thrown by Burrow and one from running back Joe Mixon. The Rams held the Bengals to a field goal following the second pick after three-time defensive player of the year, Aaron Donald, sacked Burrow leading to a fourth and one.

After a Matt Gay field goal brought the Rams within four, the momentum seemed to start going the Rams way. A third-down sack on Burrow led to him limping off the field in pain as the Rams were about to get the ball back. With 4:45 to play on what would be the most noteworthy drive for Stafford and the Rams, they decided to go for it on fourth and less than a yard. With the game on the line, the Rams started to lean on their best player this season. Offensive player of the year Cooper Kupp took a jet sweep past the first down to the Rams thirty-seven-yard line. Kupp then caught passes on the forty-five, the Bengals thirty-six, and twenty-yard line to get the rams in the red zone.

Following an eight-yard run by Cam Akers, the Rams were on the Bengals’ eight-yard line and the flags started to come out.

With 1:46 left in the fourth quarter, Stafford threw a pass on third and goal to Kupp over the middle. Bengals linebacker Logan Wilson broke up the pass and drew a surprising holding penalty against the Bengals. Downs reset, first and goal from the four-yard line. Stafford found Kupp in the endzone in a play that was called back due to offsetting penalties in the next play. Stafford looked to Kupp again in the endzone when running out of the pocket. Eli Apple in coverage drew another flag for pass interference, and the Rams were given the ball at the one-yard line. On second and goal, Stafford looked to Kupp again, who caught the go-ahead touchdown after the extra point. It was 23-20 Rams with 1:25 to play.

The most discussed narrative coming into the game showed itself again with forty-eight seconds left. Aaron Donald split a double team to tackle running back Samaje Perine for no gain on third and one. In the next play on fourth and one, Donald made the biggest play of his career. He beat a one-on-one block to get to Burrow, who tried to throw the ball away. The ball hit the turf, the Rams got a turnover on downs, and seconds later, Stafford had the offense in victory formation for the game’s final play. Rams win 23-20

Matthew Stafford finally got a ring. Aaron Donald now has every accolade possible other than a league MVP. Cooper Kupp capped off one of the greatest seasons for a wide receiver ever winning super bowl MVP. Odell Beckham Jr., though injured halfway through the game, proved he is still an impact player since he left Cleveland and had huge contributions during the first half. Most notably for the Rams and their roster, Walter Payton Man of the Year award winner Andrew Whitworth is likely to retire after seventeen years in the NFL at forty.