Analysis: Built to win now, Rams deliver a Super Bowl title

Feb 13, 2022, 10:46 AM | Updated: Feb 14, 2022, 12:49 am
Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. celebrates after the Rams defeated the Cincinnati ...

Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. celebrates after the Rams defeated the Cincinnati Bengals in the NFL Super Bowl 56 football game Sunday, Feb. 13, 2022, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

(AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

INGLEWOOD, Calif. (AP) — Built to win now, the Los Angeles Rams delivered a shiny, new trophy for Tinseltown.

Pressure? What pressure?

With LeBron James dancing to the beat during a halftime show featuring hip-hop legends Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg and Eminem, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson and Clayton Kershaw sitting in a crowd filled with Walk of Fame stars, Matthew Stafford, Cooper Kupp and Aaron Donald joined L.A.’s fraternity of champions.

Stafford tossed a 1-yard touchdown pass to Kupp with 1:25 remaining and the Rams rallied to beat the Cincinnati Bengals 23-20 to win the Super Bowl at home in their glitzy, $5 billion stadium built by owner Stan Kroenke.

They had no other choice, really.

The organization went all-in to win it all, trading a slew of draft picks to acquire Stafford and Von Miller in 2021 and Jalen Ramsey in 2019. They also signed Odell Beckham Jr. during the season.

The Rams haven’t had a first-round pick since selecting Jared Goff No. 1 overall in 2016, and they don’t own another one until 2024.

But they now have a Vince Lombardi Trophy to show for it.

“I think it’s a lot of good decisions stacked on one another,” coach Sean McVay said. “I’m just really pleased to be associated with a group that is not afraid to shoot their shot and take chances on things we feel like is in the best interest of the football team. There are a lot of rolled eyes at us, but we believe in those things and we’re going to do things that we think are in the best interest.”

McVay pointed to general manager Les Snead, COO Kevin Demoff and vice president Tony Pastoors being in sync.

“Whether it’s myself, Les, Kevin, Tony Pastoors and it all starts with Mr. Kroenke and his trust and willingness,” he said. “Then the players being able to on-board the guys in the right way, it’s sweet and I’m really happy for these guys.”

The Rams became the second team to play a Super Bowl in their stadium, following the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2021. Both did it with veteran quarterbacks in the first season with their team. The Buccaneers went all-in, signing Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski, Leonard Fournette and Antonio Brown. They got their title. So did the Rams, who eliminated Brady and the Bucs in the divisional round after wasting a 27-3 lead.

Stafford hadn’t won a playoff game in 12 seasons with the Detroit Lions before leading Los Angeles to four postseason wins, including three straight by three points.

“I love playing this game for the competition, for the relationships, for the hard times, for the good times, for all of it,” Stafford said. “This game can teach us so much as people. I get to go to work with people from all walks of life and come together and go for one goal, and for 12 years that goal wasn’t reached. It tore me up inside, but I knew I could keep playing and try to find a way and the fact that we reached that goal today is so special.”

Fittingly, Donald preserved the lead by pressuring Joe Burrow into throwing an incomplete pass on fourth down in the final minute as the Bengals were trying to drive for a tying field goal. The Rams’ dominant defensive line had seven sacks, six in the second half. Donald and Miller led the way with two each.

“It means everything. This organization drafted me eight years ago to have an opportunity to help bring this here,” Donald said. “To start in St. Louis and have our struggles and then come to L.A. and be able to build something special, bring in Coach McVay — one thing I told him when he got here, before I had the opportunity to play for him and get to know him, I told him as long as he’s here, I want to continue to be a part of this organization and help build on the legacy. We’re building a legacy. Legacies are built not from individual stats, but from team success. The ultimate goal is to be a world champion, I’ve been saying that for the past few years. To finally get the opportunity to feel this, be living in it right now, this time, this moment — it’s hard to put it in words right now.”

Even losing Beckham to a knee injury wasn’t going to stop the Rams. Their offense slowed down after Beckham went down, but Stafford and Kupp came through in the end.

Just like Hollywood scripted it.

___

Follow Rob Maaddi on Twitter at https://twitter.com/robmaaddi and his work can be found at https://apnews.com/search/robmaaddi

___

More AP NFL coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Dallas Cowboys wide receiver CeeDee Lamb (88) makes a catch in the end zone for a touchdown against...
Associated Press

Lamb’s 1-handed TD catch gives Dallas 23-16 win over Giants

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — CeeDee Lamb made a one-handed touchdown catch with 8:30 to play to cap a go-ahead drive that featured a big fourth-down gamble by Mike McCarthy, and the Dallas Cowboys beat the New York Giants 23-16 Monday night. Ezekiel Elliott scored on a 1-yard run to ignite a comeback from a […]
21 hours ago
New York Yankees designated hitter Aaron Judge reacts after flying out against Boston Red Sox start...
Associated Press

Yankees star Judge stays 1 homer shy of Maris’ AL mark of 61

A look at Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees as he approaches major home run milestones: Season HR Total: 60 Monday’s Game: Went 1 for 3 with two walks in a 3-2 loss in 10 innings at Toronto. Judge has gone six games without a home run and remains short of the AL record […]
21 hours ago
New York Yankees' Aaron Judge tosses his bat as he is walked by Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher ...
Associated Press

Judge held homerless, still at 60, Jays beat Yankees in 10th

TORONTO (AP) — Aaron Judge and the New York Yankees will have to wait at least one more day to achieve home run history and crack some bubbly. Judge stayed at 60 home runs, one shy of Roger Maris’ American League record, and the Yankees’ bid to clinch the AL East stalled when Vladimir Guerrero […]
21 hours ago
Pittsburgh Pirates' Miguel Andujar (26) and Oneil Cruz (15) celebrate after scoring on a double by ...
Associated Press

Suwinski double keys 4-run 7th, Pirates beat Reds 8-3

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Jack Suwinski hit a two-run double to key a four-run seventh inning, powering the Pittsburgh Pirates past the Cincinnati Reds 8-3 on Monday night. Suwinski turned on a slider from Derek Law (2-1), sending it to right field. Fellow rookie Oneil Cruz, who opened the inning with his third of four straight […]
21 hours ago
Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Bryce Elder, right, celebrates with catcher William Contreras, left...
Associated Press

Elder shuts out Nationals 8-0; Braves within 1 game of Mets

WASHINGTON (AP) — Bryce Elder threw a six-hit shutout for his first career complete game, and the Atlanta Braves defeated Washington 8-0 Monday night to close within one game of the first-place New York Mets in the NL East and hand the Nationals their 100th loss of the season. Matt Olson and Orlando Arcia hit […]
21 hours ago
Honey bees are swept from an upright at the beginning of the NFL football game between the Tampa Ba...
Associated Press

Bucs relocating to Miami area due to potential impact of Ian

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will relocate football operations to the Miami area in preparation for next weekend’s game against the Kansas City Chiefs ahead of the potential impact of Hurricane Ian on Florida’s Gulf Coast. The Buccaneers announced Monday night that the team will leave Tampa on Tuesday and relocate in […]
21 hours ago
Analysis: Built to win now, Rams deliver a Super Bowl title