As predicted in these pages, the Los Angeles Rams captured the Super Bowl title in a close encounter against the Cincinnati Bengals.
Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford engineered a game-winning touchdown drive late to give his team a 23-20 lead that proved to be enough after the Los Angeles defense stopped the Bengals’ own attempt to rally late.
It was fitting that the contest ended with Cincinnati quarterback Joe Burrow being sacked by Aaron Donald of the Rams. It was thought that the Bengals would struggle to protect Burrow. In the end, it was the difference in the game as Los Angeles recorded seven quarterback sacks, five of which came in the second half.
Actually, it was surprising that Cincinnati almost pulled off the upset. While leading throughout most of the second half, the Bengals gave up those seven sacks, and punted four straight times in the second half. They also did not take advantage of two interceptions.
The Bengals did not give the ball away all game. Super Bowl history tells us that winning the turnover margin wins the game. The Rams became just the third team in 56 such games to lose the turnover battle by two or more and win. In fact, teams that commit zero turnovers in the Super Bowl were 19-2 historically. The Bengals made it 19-3.
Though not considered turnovers, Cincinnati turned the ball over on downs twice and that played a huge part in the setback.
The first one came on the Bengals’ opening possession. Facing a fourth-and-1 at the Los Angeles 49-yard line, Joe Burrow’s pass attempt to Ja’Marr Chase was incomplete. Suddenly, it was Rams ball in great field position, and six plays later they converted it into a 7-0 lead. The final fourth-down failure, of course, came on the final drive.
And on both fourth-down stops, the Bengals were stuffed on third-and-1 the play before.
It was there for the taking for Cincinnati. All it needed to do was protect Burrow a little better and convert on short yardage plays. One has a feeling the Bengals will be back.
Meanwhile, the Rams were built to win now and they did just that.