Super Bowl LVI: Instant Reaction to Los Angeles Rams Win

By Ha Kung Wong

Twitter: @FBGarbageTime

February 13, 2022 – 6:30 PM ET

Rams favored by 3.5

Over/Under 49.5

  • The Bengals going for it and failing to convert on 4th and 1 in the first quarter at midfield allowed the Rams to score a TD after a Bengals defensive stand stopped their first drive.  Ultimately, going for it on 4th and 1 at midfield this early was a questionable call and may have been the difference in the game.
  • The Rams missed extra point on the fumbled snap after the second TD made the last Rams drive really interesting, since the point differential was 4 and the ensuing TD led to only a 3-point lead with 1:25 left in the 4th quarter.
  • Odell Beckham Jr. was on fire with 2 of 3 for 52 yards and a TD before going out in the second quarter with a knee injury (now reported to be an ACL tear).  Before the injury, the Rams had 13 points.  After the injury, the team went almost 40 minutes with just 3 points into the 4th quarter until Cooper Kupp’s TD with under 2 minutes left in the game.
    • Matthew Stafford had 2 interceptions after OBJ went out of the game, one targeting Van Jefferson and one Brian Skowronek.
  • With Tyler Higbee on IR and Kendall Blanton dealing with a right shoulder injury, 3rd-string tight end Brycen Hopkins stepped up big to catch all 4 targets for 47 yards after having no catches in the regular season.
  • 12 seconds into the 3rd quarter, Joe Burrow hit Tee Higgins for a 75-yard TD, but a potential facemask on Jalen Ramsey might have been missed.
  • The Rams “Philly Special” in the 3rd quarter failed to connect with Kupp over-throwing a wide-open Stafford from the Bengals 21-yard line which then limited the Rams to a field goal (and setting up the important final drive in the 4th quarter requiring a TD).
  • Aaron Donald was neutralized for the first half of the game by having Trey Hopkins pivot to double him.  The Rams adjusted well in the in the second half by rushing five.  Everyone was looking at Donald, Leonard Floyd and Von Miller to make the difference, but it was linebacker Earnest Jones that should be credited for causing the most consistent pressure on Joe Burrow.
  • The Rams ground game did absolutely nothing averaging just 1.9 yards per carry but came up big with a 7-yard Kupp scramble and a Cam Ackers run that set up 1st and goal in their final drive of the game.
  • Joe Mixon came on late in 4th quarter and averaged 4.8 yards per carry, but it was too little too late.
  • Tyler Boyd’s drop with 6:20 left in 4th quarter on the Bengals 39 was huge, as the Bengals could have milked enough time off the clock to avoid the final Rams drive that ultimately led to the Rams game-winning TD.
  • The last Rams 4th quarter drive had a number of key sequences:
    • Cooper Kupp with just under 5 minutes, coverts 4th & 1 with a 7-yard run, getting a critical 1st down.
    • Kupp follows that up with a huge 22-yard gain with under 3 minutes left.
    • On 3rd down, the refs make a questionable holding call against the Bengals on Cooper Kupp which gave the Rams 1st down on the 4-yard line.
    • This was followed by a holding call on the Rams that offset a Kupp TD.
    • But a pass interference call against the Bengals gets the Rams 1st down on the 1-yard line leading to a game winning Kupp TD with 1:25 left.
  • The Bengals were quickly moving down the field with 2 timeouts left and only needing a field goal to get to overtime.  But Aaron Donald showed up big when it counted, stopping Samaje Perine on 3rd down and 1 with just 43 seconds left, and getting to Burrow on 4th and 1 leading to an incomplete pass, and sealing the win for the Rams.
    • That being said, I found handing it off to Samaje Perine on 3rd and 1 questionable with Mixon rolling in the 4th quarter and a decent amount of time on the clock.  I assume also that Burrow wasn’t able to sneak the ball due to the knee injury, because I would have just snuck it twice on 3rd and 4th down.
    • From when the Bengals hit the field goal 4:23 into the second half after picking off Stafford, they had 26 plays for just 50 total yards which resulted in 4 punts and a turnover on downs.
  • The Rams defense made a huge difference in the game sacking Burrow 7 times along with 11 QB hits and 8 tackles for loss. Those 7 sacks resulted in 43 lost yards. That’s almost half a football field.
    • But Bengals defense wasn’t bad either with 2 sacks, 5 QB hits and 9 tackles for a loss along with two interceptions.
  • Cooper Kupp rightly won the MVP catching 8 of 10 targets for 92 and 2 TDs, most of which was in the last drive of the game, and a critical 7-yard scramble, but let’s give some credit to Matthew Stafford who certainly earned this win without OBJ and Higbee.
  • Burrow and the Bengals should remain a force in the NFL into the future, but they’ll need to shore up their offensive line in the off season.  The Bengals controlled the game in the second half until that last drive.  A better offensive line might have gotten the Bengals that last conversion and a shot to tie, seeing as how rookie kicker Evan McPherson tied an NFL record 14 made field goals in the post season and hadn’t yet missed from any distance.
  • And for all you bettors out there, how big was that missed extra point with the spread being 3.5?  Wow…