By Cole Parkinson
Sunny South News
It may not have been the best game of the NFL playoffs, but it was an entertaining game nonetheless as the Cincinnati Bengals lined up against the Los Angeles Rams.
The Bengals were a Cinderella team throughout the playoffs as they continued to win against teams they shouldn’t and they progressed all the way to the big game. The Rams on the other hand were expected to make a deep run after acquiring Matthew Stafford in the offseason and they were -4.5 favourites at the start of the game.
In more of a defensive battle, the Rams would score a late touchdown to secure the Super Bowl 23-20. Looking back at the game, the Bengals’ offensive line is a big culprit for why the Bengals didn’t hold onto their late lead. QB Joe Burrow was sacked seven times in the game, which is not ideal for any quarterback. Burrow is fairly mobile, but he was given very little time as the Rams’ defensive line boasts some truly terrifying players, namely Aaron Donald. Donald himself had two sacks, while Von Miller also collected a pair. The Los Angeles defence was effective for the large portion of the game, and in the final seconds, Donald was able to sack Burrow to secure the ring as the clock ticked down.
Burrow went 22/33 with 263 yards, one touchdown, and no interceptions. Bengal wideouts were also fairly good in the game as Tee Higgins had 100 receiving yards, Ja’Marr Chase had 89, and Tyler Boyd had 48. The Bengal defence was also very good as they effectively shut down the Rams’ running game from beginning to end. Rams’ running back Cam Akers only rushed for 21 yards in the game, but it still wasn’t enough.
And you have to give all the credit in the world to the Rams for breaking through. Most people watching the game had a similar question halfway through the fourth quarter — “Why are the Rams still trying to run the ball?” They have arguably the best receiver in the game with Cooper Kupp and when the offensive play calling finally started to go to him again, again, and again, good things happened. Kupp had eight receptions, 92 yards and two touchdowns — good enough to win the Super Bowl MVP. It was no surprise the Bengals would have trouble defending Kupp up and down the field because he’s so good at getting separation and then making great catches. He also has a great ability to gain yards after the catch.
It wouldn’t have been shocking if the Rams had lost though as they did lose their number two option in Odell Beckham Jr. went down early in the first half. Before he did though, he made a spectacular play as he scored the first touchdown of the game. The injury allowed the Bengals to focus more on Kupp for the better part of the game, but when push came to shove, Stafford and Kupp were able to connect for the game-winning touchdown.
And while Stafford had an up and down game, he was able to make the biggest play of the game. He went 26/40 with 283 yards, three touchdowns, two interceptions, two sacks, and six rushing yards. It’s hard to argue he was the best player on the field, but that really doesn’t matter — he got the job done. After 11 seasons with the bumbling Detroit Lions, it is nice to see him win the Super Bowl.
In the end, while I feel for Bengal fans who have been waiting for their first championship for decades, the good news is they have a team that looks to be able to contend for the foreseeable future. The Rams meanwhile have some work to do with plenty of free agents heading into the next season. Another question mark will be if Donald decides to retire — which it certainly sounds like he will. That will leave a big hole in the Los Angeles defence, but for now, I doubt anyone is even worrying about the Los Angeles Rams future — they have a Super Bowl to celebrate.
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