USA About: Rams Publish: 02/14/2022 Edit: 02/14/2022 Author: Gardener
- Super Bowl LVI turned out to be a huge disappointment for the Los Angeles Rams. With a disastrous start to the second half, they lost their lead. With Odell Beckham Jr. they had lost one of their best players to a knee injury. They were about to squander MVP performances from Aaron Donald and Von Miller, not to mention what could be their best championship shot for the foreseeable future. Then, as so often during the Rams' championship season, Matthew Stafford and Cooper Kupp came to the rescue. In a drive that will go down in NFL lore, Kupp converted a fourth down with an end-around, took three straight penalties and intercepted four passes from Stafford, the last of which was a 1-yard touchdown with 1: 25 remaining produced and completed a 79-yard drive that started at 6:13 a.m. The Rams were without a run and Beckham for most of the evening, so all 70,048 at SiFi Stadium knew where the ball was going as they lined up for fourth and first. Kupp's second goal of the night gave the Rams the lead. The Rams' return to the top of the NFL world is the perfect ending to a story that reads like a Hollywood script. They pledged their future, trading big draft picks to win Super Bowl LVI at SoFi Stadium — the first season with fans at owner Stan Kroenke's $5 billion stadium — and it paid off with a 23- 20 win over the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday, the Rams won their second Super Bowl championship and their first Los Angeles title since 1951. They moved back to Los Angeles in 2016, a homecoming that followed a 21-year run at St. Louis followed, highlighted by a win in Super Bowl XXXIV in 2000. They fell hard against the Patriots in Super Bowl LIII after the 2018 season, setting the stage for eventual redemption. * Traded two first-round picks for cornerback Jalen Ramsey to the Jacksonville Jaguars for cornerback Jalen Ramsey in October 2019. Second- and third-round picks for Miller on Nov. 1 for the Denver Broncos. Kroenke brought his team back to a highly saturated sports market, long owned by the Los Angeles Dodgers and Los Angeles Lakers and their 24 combined world championships, which came with the promise of a new stadium and later led to a lawsuit from St. Louis, which ended with 790 million dollars was settled. The Rams capitalized on McVay after a poor and dull 4-12 season under coach Jeff Fisher in the team's first season in L. McVay, who has openly considered his future while trying to balance his work and personal life , is now the youngest head coach to win a Super Bowl at 36. "A lot of people had been dancing in Los Angeles," Rams chief operating officer Kevin Demoff said earlier this month. "No one was ready to say, 'I'm going to buy land, build a stadium, bring my team and really fly my flag, without knowing the outcome.' That first risk, followed by Sean McVay, those two risks got us where we are today." The way the Rams built their championship roster was very risky. They kept giving up high-end draft capital while trading for marquee after marquee player after marquee player -- Ramsey, Miller, receivers Sammy Watkins and Brandin Cooks, and cornerback Marcus Peters, to name a few. But their biggest trade of all was the blockbuster for Stafford, which gave them a much-needed upgrade over Goff - who they drafted first in 2016 after swapping places up 15 - and, they had hoped, the missing piece to one Super Bowl run. Stafford told ESPN after the trade he wanted to play in big games, having been winless in all three of his playoff appearances in 12 seasons with the Lions. He got that chance after leading the Rams to a 12-5 record and an NFC West title. He has proven himself worthy of the big stage by leading game-winning drives in the Divisional Round and the NFC Championship Game. Stafford looked like an early-season MVP contender as the Rams raced to a 7-1 start, but then he committed six turnovers as they lost three straight November games to later playoff teams. They also lost receiver Robert Woods to a season-ending knee injury during that slip, which immediately turned the addition of Beckham from a luxury to a necessity as the No. 2 wideout behind Kupp, NFL Offensive Player of the Year. The Rams won their next five games even though Stafford's turnover problems continued and a COVID-19 surge hit their dressing room, prompting the NFL to reschedule their Week 15 game with the Seattle Seahawks to a Tuesday. They had a chance to eliminate the San Francisco 49ers from playoff contention in Week 18 but blew a 17-0 lead at home - before a sea of red-clad Niners fans who invaded SoFi - along the way to a sixth straight loss to their division rivals. The signings of Beckham and Miller further signaled their all-in approach for 2021. In 11 games, including playoffs, Beckham caught seven touchdown passes while Miller recorded nine sacks. Miller and Beckham were the latest stars to join an ensemble cast that included Kupp (who won the NFL's three-time crown in the regular season), Ramsey (who led the team with four interceptions) and Donald (who won another Defensive Player of the Year had) belonged -worthy season). All three were named First Team All-Pro. But the Rams might not have made it to Super Bowl LVI if some of their lesser-known players hadn't made it through the playoffs with big games. There was backup safety Nick Scott, who knocked out Tom Brady in the divisional round, and linebacker Travin Howard sealed the NFC Championship Game by coming down with an errant Jimmy Garoppolo throw that Donald's pressure forced. the 49ers and capped the Rams' rally after a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter. "Coming back and beating your biggest rival in the biggest game in your new stadium to have the right to play a Super Bowl, that's Hollywood history," Demoff said. The Rams are unlikely to make a first-round pick until 2024 - which would mean seven years without that - after giving up their No. 1 picks of 2022 and 2023 in the Stafford trade. They parted ways with this year's second- and third-rounders for Miller, leaving them without a top 100 pick. They're also nearly $14 million over the 2022 salary cap, which will make it difficult to re-sign upcoming free agents like Beckham and Miller, and to retain high-priced starters like left tackle Andrew Whitworth, who is retiring anyway could. "It's not for the faint of heart," Demoff said of the approach the Rams have taken in building their roster. But the Rams needn't worry now about pulling off the sequel after nailing the perfect ending in Super Bowl LVI.
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