Rams Unleash Mad Pass Rush Against Bengals to Clinch Super Bowl Victory, 23-20

LOS ANGELES — Football is about the line of scrimmage. That’s where the game is won and lost no matter how much star power is at quarterback or receiver or wherever else.

A team that does not win the line of scrimmage does not often win the game.

And does not win Super Bowl LVI.

Los Angeles Rams 23.

Cincinnati Bengals 20.

Oh, yes, and one more score:

Rams seven sacks. Bengals offensive front totally defeated.

Aaron Donald sealed the victory by pressuring Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow into a desperation fourth-down toss with 39 seconds to play. The pass that looked more as if thrown by a toddler fell harmlessly incomplete.

“I trying to do whatever I could to make a play,” Burrow said. “I was disappointed in my performance overall.”

Donald finished the game with four tackles and two sacks and pointing at his ring finger signaling where his Super Bowl ring is going to go.

“I promise you guys that I was mic’d up so you guys could hear,” Rams coach Sean McVay said. “When it was the fourth down, you could see they got into the shotgun and they were probably not going to run the football. I said Aaron’s going to close the game out right here. He is the F’n man!”

Good for him.

He’s going to consider what to do next now that his career is filled with All Pro selections and this championship. Rodney Harrison of NBC speculated Donald might retire.

Maybe. He didn’t say one way or the other after the game, which suggests it’s a possibility.

“I’m just in the moment right now,” he said. “I’m enjoying this with my family. I promised my daughter this when she was five years old, she got to play in the confetti.

“I’m going to enjoy this with my teammates, my family and I’m just going to be in the moment and enjoy this for today, a couple days – how about that – it’s a blessing.”

The Rams will built for this all-in run at this championship and much of the attention on that went to Odell Beckham Jr. because he came aboard when he was released by the Cleveland Browns. Well, Von Miller was traded to L.A. to chase quarterbacks.

And he caught Burrow as often as Donald — for two sacks.

“There’s nothing that I did special,” Miller said. “I just wake up, try to be the same Von every single day. I believe in myself. I believe in the people around me. I got a great support system from my mom, my dad, my brother, my cousins, my cameraman, my assistant, and everybody that just believed in me.”

Yes, in 2022 the support of cameramen is important.

For the Bengals, well, it was a fun ride. A dramatic ride.

But the upstart team with a very gutsy quarterback and talented bunch of playmakers, perhaps now understands it is flawed.

The offensive line resembles a bank of turnstiles, allowing defenders through to a ride on Burrow’s back. That is not sustainable.

The Bengals massaged and even disguised their major flaw in the AFC Championship game against Kansas City, allowing only one sack. But this game was like a replay of the divisional playoff game against Tennessee.

Cincy gave up nine sacks in that game.

This was not as statistically bad but came at a greater cost.

“It’s tough,” coach Zac Taylor said. “To fight and get this far and not finish it off hurts.”

The Rams obviously did more than merely chase Burrow to win this game. They trailed 20-16 and seemed lifeless for much of the game and certainly much of the second half while managing only a field goal.

But in the final six minutes the offense pieced together a 15-play drive that covered 79 yards for what would be the winning margin. It took them 4:48 to span those 79 yards, and yes, officiating helped near the goal line.

Cooper Kupp, who led his team with 8 catches for 92 yards, caught the winning TD pass from 1 yard out. It was his second TD catch of the game and he was named the Most Valuable Player.

“The offense took over the game at that time,” McVay said. It was a great player making a great play. We don’t make that play, we’re not sitting up here right now.”

The drive saved McVay from delivering what initially seemed like a second Super Bowl dud in calling plays because at times it definitely looked much like the unimpressive performance against New England in 2019.

“They made a couple of plays on that drive that definitely won the game,” Bengals defensive end Trey Hendrickson said.

The Rams at one point started drives at their 47, 48 and 35 and went 3 and out each time.

The Bengals opened the second half with a 75-yard pass TD from Joe Burrow to Tee Higgins. The pass gave them their first lead of the game and came after Higgins apparently grabbed at cornerback Jalen Ramsey’s facemask before the catch.

No penalty was called so the play went down in the books as the longest pass TD in a Super Bowl since Jake Delhomme and Muhsin Muhammad connected on an 85-yard score in Super Bowl XXXVIII.

Then Matthew Stafford answered. But not the way the Rams would’ve hoped.

Stafford threw an interception off a tipped pass on the next series.

Stafford led the league with 17 interceptions in the regular season. And this was his second of this game.

The truth is Burrow and Stafford were the star quarterbacks who merely played featured roles in this one.

The stars were on the line of scrimmage. And they played for the Rams’ defensive line.

Follow on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero

Written by Armando Salguero

2 Comments

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  1. The Rams’ pass rush single-handedly took over the game in the second half. The Cincy front looked like a practice squad. Burrow didn’t have any time whatsoever after the TD to Higgins to start the half; not a chance. The Bengals’ line is absolutely atrocious, somehow got even worse since last year(if that’s possible), but sure give credit to LA because we have to. It’s 100% on the Bengals’ front office now to fix the offensive line problems. If they don’t it’s their fault, no one else’s. Everything else is in place but that and it’s painfully obvious.

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