The Los Angeles Rams got their Hollywood ending.
With a fourth-quarter comeback, the Rams beat the Cincinnati Bengals, 23-20, at Tidy Bowl LVI on Sunday, claiming the franchise’s 2d Tidy Bowl championship—and first since returning to California from St. Louis in 2016.
“I dreamed this, man,” giant name defensive kind out Aaron Donald acknowledged on the realm at once after the game because the confetti fell round him. “It’s surreal. Quiz at this.”
Cooper Kupp, named the NFL’s offensive player of the yr on Thursday, added a trophy to his case by deciding on up Tidy Bowl MVP honors. The 28-yr-ragged receiver accomplished with eight catches for 92 yards and two touchdowns.
“I honest don’t dangle phrases,” Kupp acknowledged from the on-arena stage after the game, including: “These guys which shall be standing out right here, they challenged me, they pushed me, they made it so grand fun to reach to work each day. I’m honest so grateful.”
The sport looked worship a mismatch. The Rams, no topic being formally designated because the visiting team, had been taking half in at their home arena, SoFi Stadium, in Inglewood, California. It used to be their 2d Tidy Bowl appearance in four years, capping their fourth playoff appearance in five years. The Bengals hadn’t won a playoff sport in 31 years.
And despite the incontrovertible fact that the teams had identical player payrolls, the Rams had unpleasant financial advantages, because the NFL’s fourth-most-treasured team, with Stan Kroenke, the world’s greatest sports actions multi-millionaire, as their owner. The Bengals, against this, are a family exchange, cofounded by legendary NFL coach Paul Brown and now managed by his son Mike. The team ranks 2d to last in Forbes’ NFL team valuations.
Things absolutely looked tipped the Rams’ reach within the game’s early going. After a punt on their first power, a 20-yard reception by Kupp web page up a leaping touchdown snatch by midseason signing Odell Beckham Jr. The scuttle came from another first-yr Ram, quarterback Matthew Stafford, who had been got in a seismic off-season exchange with the Detroit Lions.
Stafford, savoring his first long playoff lunge, confirmed ragged poise, finishing his first six passes no topic stress from Trey Hendrickson and the Bengals’ line of defense. Early within the 2d quarter, he found Beckham for a 35-yard originate and then linked with a huge-commence Kupp within the encourage loyal corner of the raze zone for a 13-3 lead.
But there dangle been warning signs. Johnny Hekker lost his grip on the retain for the point-after strive following that ranking, costing the Rams a degree, and Los Angeles’ defense, sticking with a four-man lunge to retain some distance from having to whisk into man coverage against Cincinnati’s talented receiving neighborhood, struggled to build stress on 2d-yr Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow. Cincinnati working encourage Joe Mixon also started to search out his rhythm within the 2d quarter, even throwing a touchdown scuttle to huge receiver Tee Higgins on a trick play that narrowed the outlet to 13-10.
Then Beckham looked as if it can per chance most doubtless twist his knee on a scuttle from Stafford, and went on to miss the remainder of the game. That additional depleted the Rams’ receiving corps—which had lost Robert Woods to an ACL tear in November and Tyler Higbee to a knee anxiety he sustained within the NFC championship sport two weeks ago—and allowed the Bengals’ secondary to double-team Kupp. Los Angeles’ working backs couldn’t catch anything else going, both. The momentum like a flash shifted to Cincinnati.
Stafford, who had thrown a league-worst 17 interceptions within the regular season, used to be picked off on a deep throw to the raze zone gradual within the 2d quarter and alternatively on a scuttle tipped by his receiver Ben Skowronek early within the third. Meanwhile, giant name Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey slipped as he jostled with Bengals rookie receiver Ja’Marr Stride, who waltzed into the raze zone for a 75-yard touchdown and a 17-13 lead on the first offensive play of the 2d half.
With the Rams trailing by 20-16 gradual within the third quarter, they suffered a mountainous dread when Stafford used to be sacked on a third down and limped off the realm, hopping up on a trainer’s table for an examination. He used to be in a group to reach encourage in for the following series, nonetheless the Rams’ offense continued to stall out.
From there, the game turned into into a grind. Donald and Von Miller, the MVP of the 2016 Tidy Bowl and another midseason Rams acquisition, dialed up the stress on Burrow, taking merit of a Bengals line that had looked overmatched for quite loads of of the season.
With few other choices to turn to and time dwindling, Stafford began to power the ball to Kupp, marching the Rams down the realm and deciding on up a key first down deep in Bengals territory on a defensive maintaining call. On the following play, a touchdown rob by Kupp used to be nullified by a pair of offsetting penalties, and the following play featured one more defensive flag—uncharacteristic for a matchup between the two teams that had the fewest penalty yards within the regular season.
But given another shot, Stafford found—who else?—Kupp for a ranking that build the Rams up, 23-20.
Burrow linked with the dynamic Stride for a immediate first down, ratcheting up the stress, nonetheless on a fourth-and-1 at midfield, Burrow’s scuttle fell incomplete. Stafford used to be in a group to kneel to expire the clock, and the Rams also can eventually exhale.
“For the offense in sing to search out a reach and then Aaron in sing to build it off used to be poetic,” acknowledged Sean McVay, the Rams’ 36-yr-ragged head coach.