Sunday’s NFL Super Bowl featuring the Cincinnati Bengals versus the Los Angeles Rams held at the $5 billion dollar SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California, continues a trend of pomp and circumstance. Viewed by 112.3 million people worldwide via television and streaming, with brands paying upwards of $7 million to air a commercial, and rap legend and R&B legends Dr. Dre, Snoop Dog, Eminem, Kendrick Lamar, 50 Cent and Mary J. Blige showcased in a dazzling halftime performance; the glitz and glamor of America’s biggest sporting event was on full display.
The dramatic ending to the game also had a Hollywood ending. The Rams scored a touchdown on their final possession on a one-yard pass from quarterback Matthew Stafford to wide receiver Cooper Kupp with 1:25 remaining to cap a 15-play, 79-yard drive that ate up 4:48 seconds to give the Rams a 23-20 win in Super Bowl LVI (56).
The Bengals had an opportunity to take the lead or tie the game, but Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald, who was dominant in the second half, made a critical one-arm tackle of Bengals running back Samaje Perine on 3rd and 1 from the Rams’ 49 then pressured Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow, grabbing the talented second-year signal caller and spinning him around, forcing Burrow into a desperation fling of the football that fell to turf, ending Cincy’s dream of winning the franchise’s first-ever Super Bowl.
“You got to be relentless,” said Donald, a three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year. His relentless effort secured the Rams’ first Super Bowl win since 1999. While Kupp, who finished with eight catches for 92 yards and two touchdowns, was key to the win and voted the game’s MVP, it was Donald who deserved the award.
“For the offense to be able to find a way, and then Aaron to be able to finish it off is poetic man,” said Rams head coach Sean McVay, at 36 the youngest head coach to win a Super Bowl. “Off-season you work, you train. You got camp. You got a long season just for this one game,” said Donald. “You know we’re the last team standing.”
The Rams were also bolstered by former Giants and Cleveland Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., who joined the team in November after being released by the Browns due to a strained relationship with the franchise. Beckham, who will become a free-agent in March, scored the game’s first points, a 17-yard touchdown reception from Stafford in the first quarter. Early in the second quarter, Beckham moved the Rams downfield with a 35-yard catch. But with 3:54 left before halftime, tore an ACL attempting to catch a short pass.
Stafford came to the Rams from the Detroit Lions in a blockbuster trade last January with the sole purpose of being the missing piece to a Rams Super Bowl team. The 13-year veteran fulfilled his promise, going 26-40 for 238 yards and two touchdowns. His two interceptions were erased in the eyes of Rams fans by the game-winning drive.
This NFL postseason was filled with close endings. Out of the seven combined games played by the Bengals and Rams, five were decided by three points and one by less than a touchdown.