Black Quarterback — Super Bowl LVI Review
By Brandon Simmons
The Los Angeles Rams beat the Cincinnati Bengals to win LVI in a game that came down to the final moments. This was a game that saw the Rams take command in the first half, but lose control at the top of the 2nd half to the Bengals, only for Cincy to relinquish that control back to them in the waning moments of the game. Los Angeles jumped out to a 13–3 lead in the first half, which included a touchdown each for wide receivers Odell Beckham, Jr. and Super Bowl LVI MVP Cooper Kupp (8 catches for 92 yards). However, after Kupp’s TD reception, the Rams failed to make the extra point. That sparked Cincinnati to go on a little bit of a run. Bengals running back Joe Mixon threw a TD pass to wide receiver Tee Higgins to make it a 13–10 game. Bengals QB Joe Burrow connected with Higgins at the beginning of the 3rd quarter to take a 17–13 lead. Then, Bengals cornerback Chibobe Awuzie grabbed a pick to set the field goal up to take a 20–13 lead. The Rams get the ball back and make a field goal, to cut the lead to 20–16. Both teams slug it out until about 6:13 left in the 4th quarter, when Rams QB Matthew Stafford leads the drive for the game winning touchdown. That was followed by a defensive possession that saw defensive end Aaron Donald close the game out on 2 straight plays.
There were a few factors that gave the Rams this win. Let’s start with the 7 sacks that the team produced. Protecting the QB was a big issue that the Bengals dealt with in these playoffs and regular season. In the divisional round, Burrow was sacked 9 times; tonight he was sacked 7 times, including 2 apiece by Donald and linebacker Von Miller. Cincinnati not being able to produce minimal offense in the 2nd half is astounding. As mentioned earlier, they opened the 2nd half with a 10 point surge, but after that, they brought in nothing even though they had the opportunity to take the lead. But the real difference was the Rams made the right plays at the right time. It sounds cliché but it’s too true to dismiss. While both defenses slugged it out for most of the first half, Rams QB Matthew Stafford (26/40 for 283 yards, 2 touchdowns and 2 picks) led a 5 minute drive down the field, close to the half yard line for the go ahead touchdown. Donald made a stop on 3rd and 1 as well as 4th and 1 to close the game out. This is a whole different story if neither of those things happen.
This was a tough, close game as expected but the Rams pulled it out in clutch fashion as they have done their last few postseason games. Even though OBJ suffered an injury early on, Los Angeles still relied on Kupp and their other weapons to carry them into the winning side of this game. The Bengals are a young, exciting team but they were not ready for this moment, yet. Los Angeles had all the right pieces to step into this moment and they are now reaping the benefits. Congratulations to the Los Angeles Rams, Super Bowl LVI champions!