The Los Angeles Rams are headed to their second Super Bowl in five seasons. Their most recent appearance came in 2018 where they fell 13-3 to Tom Brady’s Patriots. The Rams are currently coached by Sean McVay who was hired at the age of 30 and would later become the youngest coach in NFL history to win a playoff game and take a team to the Super Bowl. The 2021 season looked promising for the Rams in the beginning, especially after the acquisition of star quarterback Mathew Stafford. Stafford was not the only key acquisition for the Rams throughout the season. Other big-name stars came to Los Angeles in the quest for a title, such as running back Sony Michel, receiver Odell Beckham Jr., and linebacker Von Miller. All four of these key acquisitions proved to be helpful for the Rams, who finished the regular season with a 12-5 record and first in the NFC West.
Mathew Stafford proved to be the leader the team needed throughout the entire season. Stafford finished fourth place out of all QB’s in QBR (quarterback rating). QBR is a stat that values QBs according to all types of play and the difficulty of the defense the QB faces. Another huge contributor to the Rams success is wide receiver Cooper Kupp. Kupp statistically had one of the best receiving seasons of all time and continued his tear in the playoffs. Cooper Kupp won the NFL’s receiving triple crown, meaning he led the entire league in receptions, receiving yards, and receiving touchdowns. In just 17 games Kupp amassed 145 receptions, 1,947 yards, and 16 touchdowns. He also led the NFL in yards per game by almost 20. Kupp has been nothing less of a threat in the postseason as well, leading all players in receptions, yards and yards per game.
Defense wins championships is a saying that has been floating around the sports world since the beginning of time. So commonly is a championship team a great defensive team, and this is no different for the Los Angeles Rams. With the mid-season acquisition of linebacker Von Miller, the Rams found their “quarterback of the defense” and created a three-headed monster at all three levels of a defensive scheme. The secondary features cornerback Jalen Ramsey who is arguably the best at his position. The defensive line holds Aaron Donald who is voted by his fellow players to be pound-for-pound one of the strongest and most dominant defensive players in the league. The Rams defense finished top 10 in total takeaways, as well as 3rd in the NFL in total sacks in the regular season. The Rams defense has also played very well in the postseason, giving up the second least amount of yards of any team in the playoffs.
The Rams started the 2021 season with a three-game win streak before losing in week four. The Rams answered their week four loss with four consecutive wins and an average margin of victory of 14.75 points or more than two scores. Unfortunately, the next four weeks showed the opposite result of the prior four weeks, featuring three losses and a bye week for the Rams. The Rams were able to get back on track in their final six games, going 5-1 with their only loss coming to the San Francisco 49ers in overtime 27-24 to close out the regular season.
The Rams clinched a Wildcard spot in the postseason where they would take on the Arizona Cardinals. The Rams played the Cardinals twice during the regular season with each team winning one game. The Rams were not expected to win their Wildcard game vs. Arizona, but they won in rather dominant fashion. The Rams defense was able to hold the Cardinals offense to only 11 points the entire game, including allowing zero points in the first half. The Rams defense also forced two turnovers, one of them being an interception returned for a touchdown. The offense was able to cruise past the daunting defense of the Cardinals, scoring 34 total points including three total touchdowns from Stafford. With the victory, the Rams moved on to the divisional round to play Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The Rams vs. Bucs Divisional Championship game turned out to be the barn-burner everyone was hoping for. The entire first half and early third quarter all belonged to the Rams. With 7:07 left in the third quarter Stafford scored on a one-yard rushing touchdown to make the score 27-3 in favor of the Rams. This game was all but over, until you remembered that the Bucs quarterback is the greatest professional football player of all time. With only three minutes left in the third quarter, Brady was able to drive the Bucs down the field twice for a total of 10 points, making the score at the end of three 27-13. Of course Tom Brady was going to mount a comeback; it wasn’t much of a surprise to anyone. A 55-yard Brady touchdown pass and a nine-yard rushing touchdown by running back Leonard Fournette tied the game at 27 with 42 seconds left. The Rams would have less than a minute to march the field and find some way to score. With just 20 seconds left, Stafford threw a 40+ yard pass to Cooper Kupp to set up kicker Matt Gay with a 30-yard field goal for the win. The Rams are headed to the NFC Championship.
The Rams would meet a familiar foe in the NFC championship, none other than the San Francisco 49ers. Los Angeles had previously lost both games to the 49ers in the regular season, but this game mattered much more than the others. The Rams got their first score in the second quarter by a 16-yard touchdown pass to Cooper Kupp. San Francisco would answer the very next drive with a touchdown of their own and would later get a field goal to take the 10-7 lead going into halftime. With less than two minutes left in the third quarter, the 49ers scored another touchdown to make the score 17-7. The Rams would need a huge fourth quarter to comeback to win this game, and that’s exactly what they did. The Rams defense held the 49ers to zero points, and the offense came through with another Cooper Kupp touchdown and two field goals from Matt Gay to win 20-17. The Los Angeles Rams have advanced to Super Bowl LVI where they will face Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals.