Super Bowl 56 slayed of tiger kings, anguish, and despair as the Los Angeles Rams win their second championship


Jane Shiff

The Cincinnati Bengals, lead by quarterback Joe Burrow, locked horns with Matthew Stafford and the Los Angeles Rams for the Super Bowl 56.

Max Berglind, Sports Reporter

The Los Angeles Rams are Super Bowl Champions for the first time since 1999 in Los Angeles this past Sunday.

The first pick of the 2009 NFL Draft out of Georgia, taken by the Detroit Lions, was the best quarterback selected in the class.

“Average at best in terms of leadership … It is all about [Stafford], nothing about the team.”

Stafford spent 12 seasons in Detroit, after spending three seasons with the collegiate powerhouse Georgia Bulldogs. 

“They knock him for [Stafford’s] decision-making,” another scout said.”I do not think he trusted his receivers. They drop too many balls.”

A little over a year ago, on Jan. 30, the Los Angeles Rams and Detroit Lions struck a deal that sent Matthew Stafford to LA. The package Los Angeles gave up for Stafford was risky, to say the least: quarterback Jared Goff, two first-round draft picks, and one third-rounder. The Rams, in win-now mode, were willing to put it all on the line to win a ring. 

Looking back on their season, it was 100 percent, without a doubt, worth it. Los Angeles is the new home of the Lombardi Trophy, capping off their season with an emphatic 23-20 win over the Cincinnati Bengals. 

The game started with a punt from the Rams. On the ensuing drive, Cincinnati got into a fourth-down and one situation. From the Rams’ 49-yard line, Rams linebacker Ernest Jones stepped in front of a pass from Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow, tipping it away to force a turnover on downs. 

Stafford took advantage of the turnover, completing all three of his passes for 40 yards on the drive. Stafford also ran for seven yards during the possession. Disgruntled wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., who was cut from the Cleveland Browns earlier this year, hauled in a 17-yard bullet from Stafford to give the Rams an early 7-0 lead.

Both teams had back-to-back punts on the two following possessions. 

Cincinnati started their quest to get on the scoreboard as Joe Mixon got loose for a 13-yard run. Joe Burrow, nicknamed “Joe Shiesty” because of a TikTok, found his former college teammate and All-Pro wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase for a 46-yard completion. Three straight incompletions from the Los Angeles 11-yard line culminated in a 29-yard field goal from kicker Evan McPherson. 

McPherson, a rookie, hit two game-winning field goals in the postseason. One was to eliminate the one-seed Tennessee Titans in the divisional round. The other was to knock off the two-seed and reigning AFC champion Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC championship.

One quarter down, score 7-3 Los Angeles. 

Stafford lasered two of the three first passes of the next drive for 60 yards. The Rams’ running back, Darrell Henderson Jr., picked up five yards with a quick run. Then, Stafford located his favorite target, wide receiver Cooper Kupp, for an 11-yard touchdown. Kupp, the winner of the NFL Offensive Player of the Year award, achieved the rare receiving triple crown this past regular season. Only three other players in the Super Bowl era have done that (Jerry Rice, Sterling Sharpe, and Steve Smith). To qualify, a player has to lead the NFL in receptions (Kupp had 145), receiving yards (Kupp had 1,974), and receiving touchdowns (Kupp had 16). 

Holder and punter Johnny Hekker fumbled the hold on the extra point and threw an incomplete pass, and Los Angeles had a 13-3 lead after the Kupp touchdown.

The following Cincinnati drive was meticulous and precise, as Burrow completed five passes for 39 yards. Running back Joe Mixon and Chase would add another 30 yards on the ground. Then, Cincinnati Head Coach Zac Taylor drew up some trickery. Mixon found a wide-open Cincinnati receiver in Tee Higgins for a six-yard touchdown. 13-10, in favor of the Rams. 

An interception of Stafford by All-Pro Cincinnati safety Jessie Bates III gave the Bengals the ball back with a chance to tie it before the end of the half.

That would not happen, as Cincinnati punted after five offensive plays and only mustered seven yards. A sack by Rams linebacker and former Chicago Bear Leonard Floyd for an eight-yard loss set up the punt. 

The Rams would punt too, and the first half would end with the Rams holding their 13-10 lead. 

The halftime show, highlighted by Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre, Eminem, Mary J Blige, and Kendrick Lamar performed for the ages, and 50 Cent made an appearance. Songs that were featured during the intermission were “The Next Episode,” “Lose Yourself,” “Humble,” and “In Da Club.”

The second half was bombs away with the first play from scrimmage. Six foot four Tee Higgins went and snatched a Joe Burrow pass from Rams lockdown cornerback Jalen Ramsey. Higgins took the ball the rest of the 75 yards for a Cincinnati house call, and the Bengals had their first lead of the game. The 75-yard touchdown was the longest touchdown Jalen Ramsey had allowed all season. 17-13 Bengals.

It got worse for the Rams on the sequential drive. The first pass of the possession from Stafford got tipped by backup receiver Ben Skowronek and landed in the hands of Bengals cornerback Chidobe Awuzie. The Bengals had the ball again deep in LA territory. 

Thanks to two sacks by superstar Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald on the next drive, the Bengals only got a field goal. 20-13 Bengals.

The Rams got back into the football game with Stafford completing three passes for 13 or more yards, leading to a field goal by Rams kicker Matt Gay. 20-16 Bengals.

The final three possessions of the third quarter were punts, and the Bengals held their momentum and the lead going into the final frame. 

Four more punts to open the fourth quarter. Seven drives in a row with no scoring. 

Rams ball with 6:13 to go, down four. The next drive would justify the 2017 third-round selection of a skinny wide receiver that could not run complex routes from a college named Eastern Washington. A trade for an unlucky quarterback that cost multiple first-round picks to acquire. 

Three plays got the Rams nine yards, LA now facing a fourth and one at their 30-yard line. Cooper Kupp stepped up, taking an end-around seven yards to complete the fourth-down conversion. Six more pass attempts from Stafford, three would land in the hands of Kupp, catching passes in each third of the field for a total of 38 yards. On second down and two to go from the Cincinnati 16-yard line, running back Cam Akers took a handoff up the middle for eight yards and a first down. The Rams were now in business inside the ten-yard line. Two incomplete passes to wide receiver Van Jefferson and the running back Henderson jr. made third down a make or break time for the Rams. On third down, Cincinnati linebacker Logan Wilson held Cooper Kupp, a penalty, a tendency that the Bengals did not have in close games during the regular and postseason. Penalties would continue to haunt Cincinnati. Two more flags on cornerbacks Von Bell and Eli Apple gave the Rams more first downs deep in Bengals territory. A failed quarterback sneak by Stafford set up a second-and-goal from the Cincinnati one. 

Stafford lobbed up a 50-50 ball to the endzone. Who came down with it? The skinny white guy out of Eastern Washington, Cooper Kupp, Washington State University scouts said. 

What was the best play of the game?


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With less than a minute and a half for the Bengals to answer, Burrow, the Tiger King of Cincinnati, completed consecutive passes to Chase and fellow receiver Tyler Boyd for a total of 26 yards. Then, Cincinnati ran into a brick wall by the name of Aaron Donald. Donald is arguably the best defensive player in football. He made a crucial tackle on third down and hurried Burrow on a fourth-down play that fell short. 

As the ball hit the ground, the Los Angeles faithful went crazy. The Rams did it. Stafford finally won his championship. Cooper Kupp capped off one of the best offensive seasons with a Super Bowl MVP Award.