It seems like it wasn’t that long ago that the LA Rams were in the midst of a Super Bowl run.
That’s because it wasn’t.
5-12 seasons will do that to you, but a year ago this week the Rams were getting ready to face Tampa Bay and Tom Brady in the NFC Divisional Round on their way to a Super Bowl LVI title. 2021 was a season full of exciting moments, comebacks, blowouts and big plays.
In case you’ve forgotten — 5-12 will do that to you — here are 10 of the greatest moments during the Rams Super Bowl run not so long ago.
Jalen Ramsey Waves Goodbye in Indianapolis
The Rams were 1-0 after throttling the Bears in Week 1 and new quarterback Matthew Stafford had looked great throwing for three TDs.
But in Week 2 the Rams had to go on the road. This was when people still thought Carson Wentz was good and he and Stafford duked it out. Stafford hit his hand on a helmet and wasn’t as sharp, but he led the Rams on a late drive and Matt Gay drilled a field goal with 2:23 left to put the Rams ahead 27-24.
Then it was Jalen Ramsey time. Wentz had to come out with an injury (that happens a lot) so it was up to Jacob Eason to try to rally the Colts. His pass was overthrown and picked off by Ramsey in front of the Rams bench which exploded. Ramsey ran down the sidelines waving goodbye to the Colts fans and the Rams held on.
Houston, We Have A Problem
The Rams showed up in Houston to take on the woeful Texans and put the hammer down, leading 38-0 in the third quarter.
These type of blowouts just don’t happen in the NFL, but it cemented the fact that the Rams were for real. Ernest Jones had his first career INT (remember that) and Darrell Henderson Jr. had 90 yards on the ground, Stafford threw for three TDs before coming out in the third quarter. The final score of 38-22 only looks close because the Texans got some garbage points at the end.
Odell Beckham Jr. had been the talk of the NFL after a weird incident with his father and an Instagram video in Cleveland. Basically, the dad called out Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield.
The Browns cut the star wide receiver and his decision came down to the Rams or Packers. Beckham Jr. chose the Rams, who had also just traded for Von Miller.
LA was 7-2 at the time and no one was thinking Super Bowl. Beckham Jr. immediately gave the Rams offense a new weapon, catching 27 balls for 305 with five touchdowns and then almost matching those numbers in the playoffs.
Exposing The Cardinals
No one thought the Rams were the best team in the NFC West in 2021, everyone was looking at the Arizona Cardinals, who had surged with quarterback Kyler Murray and an improved defense.
They were paper Cardinals.
The Rams had lost three in a row, won one, and were 8-4 heading to Arizona on a Monday night. The Cardinals were closing in on a division title.
Arizona came undone. The Cardinals took an early 3-0 and were driving for more when Ernest Jones intercepted Murray (I still say it was the biggest play of the season). That turned the whole game around. Aaron Donald had three sacks, Beckham Jr. had a TD catch and the Rams held on to win. The Cardinals franchise has not recovered from this game….still.
Cam Akers Return
Truth be known, on the field, the return of Akers to the Rams backfield didn’t do much. Akers came back from a popped Achilles tendon for the regular season finale against the 49ers and promptly ran the ball five times for three yards.
In the playoffs, Akers wasn’t that much better, running for 172 yards in the four games, and he did have a key fumble….or two. But Akers was another example of players recognizing the Rams were doing something great and wanting to be a part of it. He also gave opposing defensive coordinators something else to worry about.
Burying The Cardinals
The Cardinals went full-on collapse after the Rams whipped them on Monday night, and ironically, the two teams would meet at SoFi in the Monday Night Super Wild Card Game.
The Rams led 14-0 when Kyler Murray threw the worst pass of his NFL career. He was backed into his own end zone, blitzed by Troy Reeder (now there’s a name from the past) and for some reason decided to flip the ball into the left flat.
Rams DB David Long basically almost intercepted the pass in the end zone giving them a 21-0 lead and sending the Cardinals back home to stay.
Cooper Kupp Is Open Deep
The Divisional Round game between the Bucs and Rams is the one that they will show on NFL Network for years. The Rams were up 27-3 and cruising when everything that could go wrong did. Matt Gay missed a field goal. Akers fumbles, the Bucs score on fourth and one to make it 27-27 and everyone sees it coming.
It’s another Tom Brady comeback for the ages.
Except for one little thing. The Rams still had Stafford and Cooper Kupp.
The Rams get the ball back with under a minute to play. Stafford hits Kupp for 20 yards. Then on the next play, somehow…somehow…Kupp gets behind the Bucs defense and Stafford hits him in stride down to the Bucs 12. The Rams spike the ball, Gay kicks a field goal and the Rams win it.
Finally Beating San Francisco
Even during the Rams 2021 season when everything fell into place, the Rams couldn’t beat San Francisco. It’s just a bad match-up for them.
So in the NFC Championship Game, the Rams had to get through San Francisco once and for all.
It didn’t look good early, the Niners led 17-7 going into the fourth quarter, but the Rams had one last comeback in them. Matt Gay drilled two clutch field goals in the fourth quarter and Travin Howard had the interception of Jimmy Garoppolo on the final drive to send the Rams to the Super Bowl.
Kupp Back Shoulder
You may have forgotten, but the Bengals had all the momentum in the second half of Super Bowl LVI. They scored on the first play of the half on a big throw from Joe Burrow to Tee Higgins and led 20-16 in the fourth, when the Rams started to drive.
The Rams got inside the Bengals 20 when Stafford looked for Kupp over the middle. The refs called holding on Logan Wilson when Kupp runs a drag route (Bengal fans remember this one). This is the break the Rams need. Two plays later, Kupp jukes past Eli Apple and gets open on back shoulder fade for the go-ahead touchdown…but the game is not over.
AD Makes It Happen
The Endgame of Super Bowl LVI will live on in Rams history forever. The Rams lead 23-20, but Burrow and the Bengals still have time on the clock. Every time I rewatch the final sequence I remember not the final play, but the play before.
It’s third and a short two yards, the Bengals run the ball up the middle, Aaron Donald grabs Samaje Perine and throws him back a half-yard short of the first down.
It’s a huge moment, because if the Bengals get the first down, they have four new plays, but now its fourth and one at the 47-and-a-half-yard line. The Bengals go shotgun. Why? Because they just tried to run the ball with no luck, they must throw.
Burrow drops back, and Donald just blows by Bengals guard Quinton Spain, like Spain has no chance (Spain has not played another NFL down since). He grabs Burrow around the waist and spins him. Burrow is forced to throw a wobbler in the flat incomplete.
Donald points to his ring finger and everyone in the world knows what it means: the Rams are winning the Super Bowl.
And there you have it, the greatest moments of the Rams 2022 Super Bowl run.