Tim Tan Huynh

NFL rams past bungles

  • 15 Feb 2022
  • The St Louis Rams bested the Cincinnati Bengals, 23-20, in the closest Super Bowl in recent years. It capped a memorable playoff season.
Super Bowl 56, Cooper Kupp
Rams wide-receiver Cooper Kupp catches the winning touchdown late in the fourth quarter.

Super Bowl 56 aka Super Bowl LVI was good, if not great. It had the outcome that I wanted, and it was competitive to the end. To be honest, I decided to root for the Rams half an hour beforehand. The deciding factor was my high school having the same nickname and colors. Next to the Broncos, I played as the Rams more than any other team in the N64-era Madden of video games. (The halftime show was a throwback to late 90s and early 2000s, too.)

I was all in with the Rams once the game started. They were definitely the favorites going into the game. Their surprising trade of Jared Goff for Matthew Stafford, almost one year ago, was supposed to have this result. During the season, the team added Von Miller and, later, Odell Beckham Junior. Beckham’s father spurred his release from the Cleveland Browns. I later realized that the elder Beckham was immortalized in Friday Night Lights.

The Rams still had Aaron Donald, the most dominant defensive player of the past several years. They also had Cooper Kupp, the unassuming star receiver who missed the Rams’ previous Super Bowl matchup, three years ago. Of course, they still had wunderkind head coach Sean McVay. Nonetheless, the Rams had to overcome the defending champs, whom Tom Brady led, and their division rival, who dominated them over the past few years.

Once the Bengals scored because of that facemask non-call, I wanted the Rams to win more than ever. I was worried when the Bengals intercepted Stafford’s next pass. All of a sudden, momentum was on the Bengals’ side. I dreaded being subject to memes of their quarterback Joe Burrow for the next year. Beckham’s injury was a major setback, especially because the Rams’ run-offense was ineffectual.

Super Bowl 56, Jalen Ramsey
Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey stumbles at the start of the second half. Bengals receiver Tee Higgins had grabbed Ramsey’s facemask.

The Rams pass-rush finally started to overwhelm the Bengals’ porous pass-defense. Just as I was thinking about Kupp being a non-factor, he started to control the game. He made clutch plays throughout the Rams’ final series. It was more impressive because everybody in the stadium knew that Stafford was looking for him. Stafford had been missing throws all day, and I doubt that the Rams would’ve won without Kupp’s reliability and Donald’s pressure.

Super Bowl 56, Aaron Donald
Aaron Donald sacks Joe Burrow in the penultimate play of the game. Burrow’s desperation toss might’ve been catchable, but the sack effectively ends the game.

I hadn’t been that interested in a Super Bowl since Super Bowl 50. That matchup was the first to ever feature a pair of number-one-overall quarterbacks, and this matchup was the second one. Stafford (drafted in 2009) and Burrow (drafted in 2020) made some good plays, but I expected a high-scoring game. These entire playoffs were exciting, though, because the games were close.

If future playoffs are this competitive, then the NFL won’t need to worry about superstars like Tom Brady retiring. (It’s awe-inspiring that’s he’s won two Super Bowls since my previous post about the Super Bowl.) I still can’t be bothered to watch or even follow regular-season games. I’ll continue to watch the NFL’s biggest game, and if it’s compelling, I’ll blog about it.