Sunday, February 13, 2022

Rams Edge Bengals in Less-Than-Stellar Fashion—Except on Defense

 By John Turney 
Raheem Morris
The Rams got it done with their "all-in" strategy, the second team to do it in a row and the second team in a row to win the Super Bowl in their home stadium.

It was a tight, almost, too tight game. The Bengals stifled the Rams running game and did well slowing Cooper Kupp and Matthew Stafford, that is until the final drive then they could not come up with a stop.
The Rams defense allowed some yardage on the ground but didn't allow a lot of chunk plays that the Bengals have converted all season. There were two long plays, a 46-yarder that Jamar Chase caught over Jalen Ramsey but the Rams defense rallied and held the Bengals to a field goal.

Opening the second-half Tee Higgins spun Ramsey's head, literally, not on a good move but by grabbing his facemask causing Ramsey to fall and the Bengals had a 75-yard touchdown. That first was a legitimate winning rep versus Ramsey, the second, a missed call. 
NFL considered this a "brush" of the facemask
Cooper Kupp was the MVP mostly on the basis of his clutch play (along with Matthew Stafford) on the final game-winning drive that went for 79 yards, on 15 plays, and just under five minutes of game clock. 

But the thing that carried the day was the defense, as it had for most of the playoffs (with the exception of the second half against the Bucs, but a couple of Rams fumbles contributed there).

In the 2021 playoffs, including the Super Bowl, opponents converted less than 20% of their third-down tries. 
And the 2021 iteration of the Rams defense sacked Burrow 7 times (tying a Ram mark for a playoff game) and from this chart, it can be seen that given this era, these numbers stack up fact, they stack up well for the entire Super Bowl era. 
Aaron Donald
So, for a defensive coordinator many in the Rams fan base wanted fired for a good deal of the regular season Morris seemingly did a good job.

The Rams are not much better than any of the opponents they defeated in the playoffs but they played better in each of the games than their opponents tonight included.

Burrow was not throwing with authority in our view and then he (and Stafford) hurt their ankles and it was just not going to be the Bengal's night the way the Rams had them stymied on third downs.

Meanwhile on offense, in the playoffs, the Rams converted 47.4% of their thrid-downs, including 40.0% in the Super Bowl.

So congrats to the Rams, they got it done, did it with injuries, played pretty tough over a good Bengals team, and played some great 1970s style defense, stopping the run, sacking the hurrying the quarterback. 

It was not a season with a dominant team, reminding us of 1980, but a ring is a ring and Aaron Donald and Johnny Hekker and Cooper Kupp and Matthew Stafford all have one. The offense played well enough to win but the defense, allowing less than 19 points a game, just over 60 yards rushing and a 3.3-yard average rush, permitting just a 76.8 defensive passer rating, sacking quarterbacks 12 times (seven in the Super Bowl to tie the record), and allowing just 282.3 yards a game (best-ever for a Rams defense that played three or more games in the playoffs in a given year).

Cooper Kupp is, in our view, the regular season MVP, playoff MVP, and Super Bowl MVP, but the guy who delivered the ring to Los Angeles was Raheem Morris and his defense that included Aaron Donald, Jalen Ramsey, and even Eric Weddle, two years out of football. 

Amazing that there are no job openings for him now. Teams that jumped the gun in hiring a head coach may regret that they didn't wait. 


  1. I felt MVP was Donald. He was controlled in the first half but had two official sacks in the second half, with his last pressure forcing a desperation pass on 4th down.
    He stopped them running the ball on third down. The Bengals had plenty of time to kick the tying FG but Donald ended them. Kupp was clutch but a flag-free game turned into flag city during the final TD drive. Yes, the referees missed the penalty on Higgins but they were consistent until that final Ram drive ...

    1. Donald could have easily been MVP----votes cast 2 minutes to go in 4th Q

  2. ....years ago, before many of you out there followed the game the Dallas Cowboys beat the Cinderella Broncos in January of '78(just 44 years ago), and the voters/writers chose co-MVP's in Martin & why not again? Kupp & Donald would have relished holding the silver trophy together.

  3. That run stop by Donald and Gaines on third and one was huge. The way Donald blew right by the LG for the Bengals to hit Burrow on 4th down, reminded me of Lawrence Pillars of the Niners, blowing past the Cowboys RG to hit Danny White and force a fumble in the 1981 NFC Champ game ...