We not Me

How Los Angeles earned its first Super Bowl with its new team


Graphic by Logan Moseley.

On Feb 13, two of the National Football League’s best battled for a chance of a lifetime, a chance to win the Vince Lombardi Trophy. The Los Angeles Rams of the National Football Conference and the Cincinnati Bengals of the American Football Conference, both the four seed in the playoffs, had unlikely paths to Sofi Stadium. Wide receiver Cooper Kupp (10) and defensive back Eli Apple (20) constantly saw themselves in this game, and Kupp’s score in the final two minutes against Apple sealed Cincinnati’s fate.

Logan Moseley, Co-Striv Executive Producer

The Super Bowl is the pinnacle event of football, and this year Super Bowl LVI (56) was played in Los Angeles at Sofi Stadium. This marked the second year in a row of a team hosting and playing in the Super Bowl. The ironic part is that the official roles were flipped, as the Los Angeles Rams were the “away” team and the Cincinnati Bengals were the “home” team. 

The Bengals were the real shockers this season, as the year prior they had the fifth pick in the draft. The season started strong, and after a few rough games, Cincy picked up a lot of steam, winning the AFC North, finishing the season 10-7 and the four seed in the playoffs.

The Rams, however, gained the mantra as the “All in Rams”, after making big trades and big signings left and right such as quarterback Matthew Stafford, pass rusher Von Miller, wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (OBJ) and safety Eric Weddle. While the initial results were underwhelming, the team pulled together and finished 12-5, also the four seed.

After winning the Wildcard, Divisional and Conference championship rounds, these two teams left the football world with one of the best on-paper matchups we’ve seen in a while, but more importantly, a “win-win” Super Bowl. Either the Bengals would get their first ring in franchise history or many greats and fan favorites would get the ring to give their resume the cherry on top to try and get into the Hall of Fame (HOF).

The game started off with fireworks on defense. The Rams tried to get the ground game going with running back Cam Akers (who has a comeback story of his own), but to no avail as L.A would start with the ball first. After quick drives by both teams, Stafford hit wide receiver Cooper Kupp for a 24 yard gain, and then three plays later hit OBJ for the game’s opening score, putting L.A. up 7-0 with 6:22 left in the first quarter. 

After a quick 3-&-out by both teams, Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow hit former Louisiana State teammate and wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase for a huge gain against All-Pro Jalen Ramsey for a 46 yard bomb. This would not be the last time Ramsey would be embarrassed, though the next time is up for debate. However, the Rams defense stood firm, only allowing a field goal by Bengals kicker Evan McPherson.

The Rams roared right back, with a quick pass to OBJ again for 35 yards, and then was capped off by an 11 yard touchdown by Kupp from Stafford. One thing the Bengals had to do to try and stop the Rams was locking up Kupp, who was the league’s triple crown winner, leading the league in receiving yards, receptions and touchdowns. So far, with OBJ and Kupps’ performances up to this point, this was not a good sign for Cincinnati.

But Cincinnati would not let up, and on a long 75 yard, 12 play drive to score their first touchdown of the game. And with a botched hold by the Rams Johnny Hekker, the lead was cut to three, a 13-10 lead. Cincinnati came up big near the end of the half, when Stafford’s pass was a tad underthrown to wide receiver Van Jefferson, and Bengals safety Jessie Bates came down with it. 

The score was 13-10 at half. At half, news broke that Beckham Jr. injured his knee and he would not return. This was huge as OBJ put up 52 yards and a touchdown with just two total receptions. 

Cincinnati would start off the second half on fire after a controversial 75 yard opening play TD by Tee Higgins, which was then followed by yet another Stafford INT as rookie wideout Ben Skrowenek was unable to haul in the pass, and the Bengals had all the momentum, taking a 20-13 lead.

After a few more defensive stops by both teams, the Rams cut the lead to just four as Pro-Bowl kicker Matt Gay made a 41 yarder to keep their hopes alive. 

This is where things got fun. After both teams stalled out, Los Angeles went on a long 15 play, 4:48 drive that ended in a Kupp TD with 1:25 left. Rams lead 23-20. Burrow tried to complete the comeback, but on 4th & 1, Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald, seeing red, plowed right through a triple team and won the game, forcing an incomplete pass and ending the game. 

L.A., after finally getting a team back five years ago, gets its second ring. HOF caliber players like Donald, Stafford, lineman Andrew Whitworth, Weddle and Ramsey all get a ring, and through all the trials and tribulations the team faced, they stuck with one phrase: We not Me.