2022 Super Bowl score: Rams beat Bengals as Matthew Stafford, MVP Cooper Kupp connect late in comeback win


When the Los Angeles Rams spent $5 billion to create a luxe new home here, it became the most expensive football laboratory in the world. They built a team unlike any other and eschewed the fundamental beliefs about how the best National Football League teams are constructed. 

The Rams hired a historically young coach, brazenly traded away their earliest draft selections, and acquired a trove of superstars. 

The experiment finally worked. The Rams are Super Bowl champions. 

The Rams beat the Cincinnati Bengals 23-20 in the 56th Super Bowl.

Los Angeles led 13-3 before falling behind 20-13. They survived a pair of interceptions thrown by Matthew Stafford, an injury to Odell Beckham Jr., and long stretches when the offense struggled to move the ball. 

Yet with the game on the line, the Rams turned it around. That’s because they went for it. 

Down 20-16 with five minutes left on their own 30-yard-line, the Rams faced fourth-and-1. In lieu of punting, Stafford handed the ball off to Cooper Kupp, the NFL’s most productive receiver this season, who ran seven yards for the first down. It was the pivotal play on a drive that ended with a barrage of penalties—before Stafford hit Kupp for a one-yard score

The Bengals got the ball back with 1:25 to go, and when Joe Burrow is the opposing quarterback anything is possibleHe began the drive with back-to-back completions that totaled 26 yards. But after Burrow helplessly threw the ball into nowhere as he was getting dragged down on fourth down, the Rams players stormed onto the field. The Lombardi Trophy was about to be theirs. 

The win is a crowning achievement for the team’s coach, Sean McVay, Stafford, and a city that had gone for years without any NFL team at all. Then the Rams won it all on their home field at SoFi Stadium. 

“As far as building this stadium, I think it turned out alright,” Rams owner Stan Kroenke said afterward. 

The Rams overcame a jittery performance by Stafford, the productive yet mistake-prone quarterback in his first year with the team. Early on, he looked like his best self. He threw a stunning pass to Beckham, the star receiver the team signed midseason, for the first score of the game. Then he hit Kupp for another score. After a botched extra point, the game was 13-3. 

Then it got hairy while Stafford had brushes with disaster. He threw an interception toward the end of the first half. After Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow began the second half with a 75-yard touchdown pass to Tee Higgins that put Cincinnati up 17-13, Stafford threw his second pick of the game. Cincinnati soon led 20-13, while Stafford had to play without Beckham, who left with a knee injury. 

The Rams responded with a field goal on the next drive, but what changed the game was how Los Angeles found a way to terrorize Burrow. Protecting Burrow had been a problem for Cincinnati all year, and the Rams posed a particularly difficult matchup. Defensive lineman Aaron Donald, the three-time defensive player of the year, can single-handedly wreck offensive lines—and he did just that with two sacks. Von Miller, another midseason acquisition, has been among the NFL’s best pass rushers for years. 

On back-to-back drives, Cincinnati went three-and-out while Burrow was sacked three times. The Bengals next drive also ended in a punt after a sack—and on that takedown, Burrow’s leg was twisted and he writhed on the ground before hobbling off the field. 

Stafford had come up lame earlier in the game, too. Both quarterbacks were far from their best selves as the scoring dried up. There were no scores between the Los Angeles field goal with 5:58 left in the third quarter that made it 20-16 and the touchdown that 1:25 left. 

Aaron Donald of the Los Angeles Rams sacks Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow.


Burrow was sacked seven times in the game, including an onslaught in that second half when he never appeared comfortable. Even when he wasn’t brought down, he was frequently chased around and operating under duress. 

The victory marks the culmination of a journey that began in 2016. The Rams moved to Los Angeles six years ago. They hired McVay, a then-30-year-old offensive wizard, five years ago. They lost in the Super Bowl four years ago. They missed the playoffs entirely three years ago, moved into their glitzy new home two years ago, and acquired Matthew Stafford a year ago. 

The acquisition of Stafford was the boldest bet for a team full of them. After 12 years of playing for the Lions, the former No. 1 overall pick in the draft had a losing career record and had never won a playoff game. But the Rams believed McVay could unlock the abilities of a passer who had languished in Detroit. 

But no team has an appetite for risk quite like the Rams. They signed Beckham, the talented and temperamental receiver, midway through this season. They traded another two draft picks for star pass rusher Von Miller during this season. They had previously traded two other first-rounders for defensive back Jalen Ramsey. They last used their first-round pick in 2016 and don’t have another until 2024. 

In a sport where teams carefully plot their futures, this franchise pushed its chips to the center of the table and tried to win in the present more than any other club. 

Those players they acquired made it a super gamble. 

Stafford showed all versions of himself in the biggest game of his life. He threw three touchdowns and played through a leg injury that had to be tended to on the sidelines. He also threw two picks that endangered Los Angeles’s hopes. He finished with 283 yards while completing 28-of-40 attempts.  

The Rams’ other acquisitions came through, too. Beckham caught the first score before his injury. Miller, the linebacker the Rams got from the Denver Broncos, recorded two sacks. Ramsey was part of the defense that shut down Burrow late in the game. 

But in the game’s final minutes, Stafford was the one who came through. On a 15-play, 79-yard drive that lasted 4:48, he put the Rams on top for good. He hit Kupp, who was named the game’s Most Valuable Player with 92 receiving yards and two scores, four times on the drive. The last one, from the 1-yard-line, decided the Super Bowl. 

“I don’t know what to say,” Kupp said afterward. 

The bets the Rams made had finally paid off. Los Angeles won the Super Bowl in Los Angeles. 


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