Kupp’s heroics spark Rams to 23-20 Super Bowl LVI win over Bengals

Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Brandon Powell rushes against the Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl LVI at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles on Sun Feb 13, 2022 (AP News photo)

By Daniel Dullum
Sunday, February 13, 2022

A late touchdown pass, combined with a stellar defensive stand, helped the Los Angeles Rams win their second Super Bowl in franchise history Sunday at their own stadium in Inglewood, Calif., holding off the Cincinnati Bengals 23-20.

Cooper Kupp snared a 1-yard touchdown pass from Matthew Stafford with 1:25 remaining in the fourth quarter, letting the Rams surge ahead from a 20-16 deficit. In what became the game-winning drive, Kupp also had a 7-yard run to convert a key fourth-down play, caught key passes and drew two defensive penalties.

Kupp, the NFL’s Offensive Player of the Year, finished with eight receptions for 92 yards and two TDs. Kupp became a primary target for Stafford after Odell Beckham Jr. left with a knee injury in the second quarter. For his clutch efforts, Kupp was selected as the game’s most valuable player.

The Bengals had one last possession and reached midfield, but on a fourth-down play with 39 seconds remaining, the Rams’ Aaron Donald forced Cincinnati quarterback Joe Burrow to throw a wild, incomplete pass.

That play clinched the Rams’ first Super Bowl championship while residing in Los Angeles, having won the 1999 title in St. Louis. The Cleveland Rams moved to Los Angeles after winning the 1945 NFL championship, and the L.A, Rams last won an NFL crown in 1951.

Cincinnati took its first lead of the game on the first play of the third quarter, when Burrow found Tee Higgins on a deep route for a 75-yard score. Replays showed that Higgins got away with grabbing L.A. cornerback Jalen Ramsey’s facemask on the play.

An interception set up a Evan McPherson 38-yard field goal that gave the Bengals a 20-13 lead at 10:19 of the third quarter, and the Rams responded at 6:02 of the third with a field goal of 41 yards by Matt Gay. The game turned into a defensive battle for most of the fourth quarter.

The Rams opened the scoring at 6:26 of the first quarter on a 17-yard touchdown pass from Stafford to Beckham. McPherson’s 29-yard field goal in the final minute of the first quarter put Cincinnati on the board.

Stafford’s first TD pass to Kupp, from 11 yards out, put the Rams up 13-3, but missed the extra point on a botched hold. At 5:52 of the second quarter, Joe Mixon threw a 6-yard scoring pass to Higgins on the halfback option, pulling the Bengals to within 13-10 at the half.

Stafford threw for 283 yards, completing 26 of 40 passes for three touchdowns and two interceptions. Cam Akers was the Rams’ leading rusher with 21 yards on 13 carries.

Burrow, who was sacked for a Super Bowl record-tying seven times, completed 22 of 33 passes for 263 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions. Mixon ran 15 times for 72 yards, and Higgins caught four passes for 100 yards and two TDs. Ja’Marr Chase and Tyler Boyd each caught five passes for Cincinnati.

The Bengals are winless in three Super Bowls – the Bengals’ previous losses came in XVI (1981 season) and XXIII (1988 season), both against San Francisco,

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