The Super Bowl Report: Whose Super Bowl? Rams’ Super Bowl

Inglewood, CA - February 08: Los Angeles Rams outside linebacker Von Miller (40) rolls around in confetti.
Von Miller rolls makes a confetti angel after the game.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Howdy, I’m your host, Houston Mitchell. Welcome to the final Super Bowl newsletter. We end on a good note.

Gary Klein on the Super Bowl: Throughout their all-in, boom-or-bust season, Rams coach Sean McVay and his players stuck with a common refrain.


During winning and losing streaks, after comeback victories and embarrassing defeats, they opined that they were authoring their own story, and they intended to finish with a flourish.

On Sunday in Super Bowl LVI, they penned the final chapter. And it was a pulsating finish.

The Rams defeated the Cincinnati Bengals 23-20 before 70,048 at SoFi Stadium to win their first Super Bowl title in Los Angeles.

Los Angeles, you’ve got another champion. Make room for the Rams.

Quarterback Matthew Stafford passed for three touchdowns and a defense led by Aaron Donald and Von Miller sacked Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow seven times as the Rams became the second consecutive team to win the Super Bowl in their home stadium. Stafford connected on a one-yard touchdown pass to Cooper Kupp with 1:25 left in the fourth quarter for the go-ahead score and the eventual win.

“I can’t say enough about the resilience of this team,” coach Sean McVay said. “Guys stepping up when they had to ... That’s why we’re world champs, because our best players stepped up in the most crucial and critical moments.”

Next season, the Rams will have a chance to become the first team to win consecutive Super Bowl titles since the New England Patriots in 2004 and 2005.

But they will savor this championship run, which now establishes the Rams as a force in a Los Angeles sports landscape that includes the Lakers and Dodgers, franchises that have won multiple titles and are embedded in local sports fans psyche.

“I love playing this game for the competition, for the relationships, for the hard times, for the good times, all of it,” said Stafford, who completed 26 of 40 passes for 283 yards with two interceptions. “This game can teach us so much as people.

“I get to go to work with people from all walks of life, come together and go for one goal. And for 12 years that goal wasn’t reached, and it tore me up inside, but I knew I could keep playing and try to find a way. And the fact we reached that goal … is so special.”

Six years after returning from St. Louis, a franchise that played its first game in Los Angeles in 1946 won the NFL title. And three years after he was schooled by New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick in Super Bowl LIII, Rams coach Sean McVay cemented himself in history by leading his team to a win over Bengals coach Zac Taylor, a former Rams assistant.

The star-studded Rams began the season with a mandate to play in a Super Bowl that was played in owner Stan Kroenke’s $5-billion stadium. General manager Les Snead and McVay assembled a roster full of All-Pros and future Hall of Famers.

The foundation was there — with stars such as Donald drafted in 2014, lineman Andrew Whitworth and injured receiver Robert Woods signed shortly after McVay was hired in 2017, receiver Cooper Kupp drafted in 2017, and a 2019 trade for star cornerback Jalen Ramsey.

“Man, eight years, a lot of ups and downs,” Donald said. “So, to see it come full circle and be a world champion and all the hard work you put into this game, that’s what it’s for.

“Now it’s mission complete, so you feel grateful.”


Photos: Rams vs. Bengals in Super Bowl LVI at SoFi Stadium

When it came to earning a Super Bowl ring, Aaron Donald answered the bell

Rams’ 23-20 Super Bowl LVI win over the Bengals by the numbers

Rams and Bengals fans wait out Super Bowl finale in and out of stadium

L.A. Times to release NFT collection marking Rams run to Super Bowl

‘Rams Tough’: Collector’s book celebrates Rams’ Super Bowl win

Photos: Celebrities show up in force for Rams-Bengals match-up in Super Bowl LVI

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Bill Plaschke on the Rams: Amid the blaring of blue and gold horns, on a super-sized Sunday fit for an ascension, the Los Angeles sports heavens just got a little more crowded.

Make room for the Rams.

Move over Lakers, back up Dodgers, everybody clear space for the oldest of friends, the newest of heroes, the prodigal sons turned Super Bowl champions.

Six years after returning to Los Angeles with helmet in hand, the Rams raised those helmets to the sky Sunday with a 23-20 victory over Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl LVI at SoFi Stadium.

They won it after blowing an early 10-point lead and stumbling into a 10-point deficit. They won by coming back in the fourth quarter on a 79-yard, game-winning touchdown drive featuring the two stars who have carried them all season — quarterback Matthew Stafford and receiver Cooper Kupp.

The winning blow, after the desperate Bengals were assessed two penalties for holding Kupp, came on a one-yard toss from Stafford to Kupp with 1:25 remaining.

The Rams defense then held the Bengals in the final minute to win it when mighty Aaron Donald threw Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow to the ground with 39 seconds remaining in a game-ending sack.

Boom. Done. Won. The exhausted Rams stalked triumphantly off their sidelines as the air filled with confetti and strains of, “I Love L.A.”

They won it not only with the final comeback, but with two other comebacks. They won despite a missed face mask call that led to the Bengals’ go-ahead touchdown on the first play of the second half, and they won despite losing receiver Odell Beckham Jr. to a knee injury in the second quarter.

They won it with trademark resilience and toughness, just as they vowed they would win it, an overdue repayment of an ancient debt owed.

They were this city’s first NFL team in 1946. They left for St. Louis after the 1994 season. They returned in 2016 with a promise to make up for lost time and a mission to win back a city’s heart.

Promise kept. Mission complete.


From Steve Henson: Aaron Donald told former player Rodney Harrison before the Rams’ 23-20 Super Bowl win Sunday, he might retire.

The Rams All-Pro defensive tackle was interviewed by Harrison for a 12-minute pregame segment on NBC. After the interview aired Sunday, Harrison said that Donald told him off the air that he would consider retirement — if the Rams win. And they did.

Harrison was asked by Jac Collinsworth on the air what Donald thinks about his legacy. Harrison answered that Donald doesn’t want to be a defender that accomplished so many individual things but never won a Super Bowl.

He then said, “But he did tell me this, that if he wins the Super Bowl, there’s a strong possibility he could walk away from the game and retire.”

“You might be trending on that one,” Collinsworth said. “What makes him feel that way?”

Replied Harrison, a 15-year NFL veteran who is serving as an NBC pregame analyst: “He just talked about wanting to spending more time with his family and he talked about his body, he works real hard on his body year around, and he’s achy.”


Sam Farmer on Cooper Kupp: Cooper Kupp saw the future.

He envisioned being most valuable player of the Super Bowl.

The vision didn’t come in a usual way. This wasn’t the case of the prescient Rams receiver reading what a defender is going to do.

No, the crystal-ball moment for Kupp came in Atlanta three years ago, when a knee injury had reduced him to a spectator in the Super Bowl against New England.

“I wasn’t able to be a part of that thing,” Kupp said after his two-touchdown performance in Sunday’s 23-20 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals. “I don’t know what it was, but there was this vision from God that we were going to come back, we were going to be a part of a Super Bowl, we were going to win it, and somehow I was going to walk off the field as the MVP of the game.”

Never bet against Kupp. That came to be on his home field in Super Bowl LVI, as he reeled in a one-yard touchdown pass with 1 minute 25 seconds to play to put the Rams ahead for good.


From Luca Evans: Robert Woods knew his pain.

After halftime in Sunday’s Super Bowl, Rams receiver Odell Beckham Jr. lingered in the locker room, moved to tears after a noncontact leg injury that saw the star receiver crumple to the turf. He’d writhed in pain, mouth agape in a scream, clutching at his left knee. In the third quarter, the team announced Beckham was ruled out for the rest of the game.

It was a tough end to a game that would have gone down as a statement for a player maligned for years. Beckhamcaught the first touchdown of Super Bowl LVI against the Cincinnati Bengals, a leaping grab in the end zone in front of the SoFi Stadium fans, his seventh score as a Ram after seven combined over 2½ seasons with the Cleveland Browns. A midseason trade to Los Angeles was a chance at redemption.

An arc incomplete, Beckham sat in the locker room as his team returned to the field. But before rejoining the sidelines, he found a moment of solace with Woods, who wrapped his arms around the receiver, who finished with two receptions for 52 yards Sunday.

“Just held him,” Woods said postgame. “Just to be able to hold him and say, ‘I’ll be here every step.’ ”


From Mike DiGiovanna: Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford took a knee on the SoFi Stadium sideline and was unsure what was transpiring on the field when coach Sean McVay came over to give him a congratulatory hug and the blue-and-gold-clad faithful among the crowd of 70,048 stood up and roared.

Aaron Donald had just pressured Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow into a desperation heave on fourth down in the final seconds of Super Bowl LVI, the incomplete pass ending a drive near midfield and securing a 23-20 Rams victory.

“To be honest, on that last drive, I couldn’t watch,” Stafford said. “I didn’t even know it was fourth down. I looked over at [receiver Cooper Kupp], and we he was like, ‘I didn’t know either.’ We couldn’t watch.

“How fitting for Aaron to do what he does. He’s been an unbelievable player, a Hall of Fame player, for so long. He’s done everything right for this team, and for him to do what he does on fourth down and win it means everything.”


Police issued a dispersal order and shot projectiles after some revelers who gathered in downtown Los Angeles to celebrate the Rams’ Super Bowl win grew unruly.

Many of the hundreds of fans who converged near L.A. Live by 8 p.m., including Michael Gillette, 31, and his partner, just wanted to celebrate with the crowd. “It’s a wild night. We are glad we are here,” he said. “In L.A., we aren’t tearing things down, we are building things back.”

But at 11th and Hope streets just before 9 p.m., police cordoned off the area as fans shot off fireworks in the middle of the intersection. Multiple people climbed nearby street lights.

Police on bullhorns told people in the area that they were “risking serious injury” if they stayed, and declared an unlawful assembly on a loudspeaker from a truck. Some revelers left immediately, while others taunted officers, throwing glass bottles in their direction. Police fired projectiles at people as the crowd fled.


The parade information hasn’t been announced yet, but you might want to prepare for a “I’m too sick to come to work” day on Tuesday or Wednesday.

In the meantime, the Dodgers never got a parade after the 2020 World Series, leading to this tweet from Justin Turner:

So, someone on the Rams should invite Turner, and Stafford can invite Clayton Kershaw. Sneak every available Dodger on surreptitiously. No one will notice.


From Luca Evans: If the Rams walk away with a Super Bowl win Sunday, it could be quite the day for wide receiver Van Jefferson and his family.

In the third quarter, NFL Network reporter Bridget Condon tweeted that she was “pretty sure” she saw Jefferson’s wife, Samaria, leaving the stadium on a stretcher “about to have their baby.”

Yesterday, The Athletic reported that Samaria’s due date was Feb. 17 — and that she’d specifically instructed their family and Rams staff to not notify Jefferson if she went into labor until the game was over.

“I said, ‘You play, I’ll see you at the hospital afterwards.’ That’s what it is. I will never take that moment away from him. I want to see him glorify God on the field that day,” Samaria said, as reported by The Athletic.


From Jack Harris: Pitcher Clayton Kershaw got lots of support from Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford as he was leading the Dodgers to an elusive World Series win in 2020.

Kershaw returned the favor Sunday.

The pitcher is still a free agent, but the Texas native was in Los Angeles to support the Rams — and one of his childhood friends.

Kershaw and Stafford graduated from high school together in Highland Park, Texas, and played sports together growing up — Stafford sometimes serving as Kershaw’s catcher on the diamond, and Kershaw playing center for a season of freshman football in front of Stafford on the gridiron.

The childhood friends both had successful careers but lacked championships. While he could relate to the pressure, Kershaw told NFL Network he had no advice for Stafford on how to handle game day.

“I think the one great thing is we’re super supportive,” Kershaw told the NFL Network before kickoff. “Like ever since I won the World Series, he ... sent a lot of great text messages and I’m trying to do the same thing for him now. Just texting him, telling him we’re happy for him.”


Opening odds to win next season’s Super Bowl:

Chiefs 13-2
Bills 7-1
Rams 10-1
Bengals 12-1
49ers 14-1
Packers 15-1
Cowboys 16-1
Buccaneers 18-1
Titans 20-1
Ravens 20-1
Broncos 22-1
Patriots 25-1
Cardinals 25-1
Colts 25-1
Chargers 25-1
Vikings 30-1
Saints 35-1
Seahawks 40-1
Browns 40-1
Eagles 40-1
Dolphins 40-1
Raiders 50-1
Falcons 60-1
Commanders 60-1
Steelers 60-1
Bears 80-1
Panthers 80-1
Giants 100-1
Jaguars 125-1
Lions 150-1
Texans 200-1
Jets 200-1


Just for fun, over the next two weeks we will be running a tournament to determine the best Super Bowl/NFL/AFL champion of all time. The teams have been seeded 1-64 (using a combination of regular season record, regular season point differential and playoff point differential) and put into four regions, just like the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. Using the Second And Ten computer game, we will run the games to determine the best team of them all. Since there are only 55 Super Bowl winning teams, we chose nine teams from before the Super Bowl era to compete, all champions of either the NFL or the AFL. They are: 1950 Cleveland Browns, 1951 Los Angeles Rams, 1953 Detroit Lions, 1960 Philadelphia Eagles, 1961 Houston Oilers, 1962 Green Bay Packers, 1963 San Diego Chargers, 1963 Chicago Bears and the 1964 Buffalo Bills.

We continue with the semifinals and finals of the John Madden region:


1985 Chicago Bears d. 1962 Green Bay Packers, 16-7

Walter Payton rushed for 96 yards and had 59 yards receiving and the Bears defense was too much for Bart Starr, who completed four of 12 passes for 64 yards, with two interceptions. Steve McMichael was named game MVP after his six tackles and four sacks.


Sid Marantz: Elroy “Crazylegs” Hirsch! The nickname, the way he ran, the 50’s uniform. Nothing like it especially for a 5-year-old.

Chuck Phillips: Reggie Bush. The most exciting offensive collegiate player ever to step on L.A. Coliseum turf. A potential touchdown every time ball put into his hands. Image suffered when betrayed / scapegoated by USC. Most exciting ball carrier I’ve seen in my lifetime.

Scott Hamre of Cherry Valley: Without question or competition, my favorite football player is #88, Alan Page of the Minnesota Vikings. This was solidified on his 1969 interception in a divisional playoff against the Rams in Minnesota which sealed that game. When I did see him in L.A. in 1972 there was a full page on him in the program that read “Page? Heck, he’s a whole book!” That day was a bit of a disappointment as, though the Vikings won 45-41, they gave up 41 points! The year before Alan Page was the first defensive player to win the NFL MVP award (1971) and the Vikings gave up 139 points for the whole season for a 9.9 average per game, with three shutouts. Alan Page was the fastest defensive lineman on Earth. Though a team could have some success running directly at him, pity the fools who tried to run away. Also, Alan Page had a career in law and served as a Justice for the Minnesota State Supreme Court.

Brent Roles: Nolan Cromwell. Drafted back in the day as a QB out of Kansas, not because he filled a need for the team, but for simply being the best athlete available. And he was: played both safety positions, filled in at corner when needed, was the third string QB, and backup punter. And he was humble! Won defensive player of the year once as well.

Zach Siegal-Eisman: My favorite football player is Drew Bledsoe. When I was a kid, I skimmed through Sports Illustrated for Kids religiously and always checked the mail every afternoon for when it had arrived. They had a cartoon drawing of Drew Bledsoe showing off his cannon arm and that coupled with the cool Patriots logo at the time (and me learning about the American Revolution) made me fall in love with him. Additionally getting to play as him in computer games Backyard Football was a blast, especially picking him over Brett Favre who at the time was the more well known and more popular QB.

And finally

Highlights from Super Bowl LIII (Patriots vs. Rams). Watch and listen here.

Highlights from Super Bowl LIV (Chiefs vs, 49ers). Watch and listen here.

Highlights from Super Bowl LV (Buccaneers vs. Chiefs). Watch and listen here.

Highlights from Super Bowl LIV (Rams vs. Bengals). Watch and listen here.

Until next time...

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