Matthew Stafford and Rams rally to beat Bengals for first L.A. Super Bowl title

Matthew Stafford and Rams rally to beat Bengals for first

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 the first Super Bowl title in Los Angeles Rams history.

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 Ram 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.

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 NBA and World Series title and are embedded in local sports fans psyche.

Six years after returning from St. Louis, a franchise that played its first game in Los Angeles in 1946 won the NFL title as a Los Angeles team for the first time since 1951. 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 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 coach Sean 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.

But with the biggest spectacle in American sports coming to Kroenke’s gleaming new palace, Snead and McVay went it into overdrive. They traded for Stafford before the season, traded for Miller and signed Beckham during the season and signed star safety Eric Weddle out of retirement before the playoffs.

All played key roles on Sunday, as did less-heralded players such as linebacker Ernest Jones, tight end Brycen Hopkins and defensive tackle A’Shawn Robinson.

Stafford, who toiled for 12 seasons and never won a playoff game in Detroit, answered all the questions about his ability to win when it counted most. He led the Rams to playoff wins over the Arizona Cardinals, the defending Super Bowl-champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers and, on the one-year anniversary of the blockbuster deal that brought him to the Rams, the rival San Francisco 49ers.

He was especially clutch against the Buccaneers, engineering a game-winning drive in the final 42 seconds to out-Brady Tom Brady, beat the Buccaneers and send Brady into retirement with a defeat.

Stafford completed 26 of 40 passes for 283 yards and three touchdowns, with two interceptions.

Kupp caught eight passes for 92 yards and two touchdowns.

Burrow completed 22 of 33 passes for yards and one touchdown.

This is a developing story. The Times will have more on Super Bowl LVI soon.

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