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Los Angeles Rams come back to win Super Bowl LVI 23-20 at home

Late go-ahead touchdown toss from Stafford to Kupp robs Cinderella Bengals in the first Super Bowl at SoFi Stadium.
/ Source: NBC News

The Los Angeles Rams won Super Bowl LVI 23-20 in front of a home crowd Sunday in a heartbreaker for a Cincinnati Bengals team brimming with young talent but impacted by injuries.

The Rams, looking right at home in the $5 billion Inglewood stadium built by team owner Stan Kroenke, scored within 7 minutes of kickoff. The Bengals answered back with a rapid march downfield that ended in a 3-point field goal.

The Rams scored again on a pass to Cooper Kupp, but the team failed to get an extra point as Cincinnati recovered the ball during L.A.’s failed extra-point attempt.

Cincinnati capitalized on the play by going 75 yards in 12 plays, putting the ball in the end zone successfully to make it 13-10 Los Angeles at the half.

L.A. started the game as 4.5-point favorites.

Super Bowl LVI - Los Angeles Rams v Cincinnati Bengals
Cooper Kupp #10 and Matthew Stafford #9 of the Los Angeles Rams celebrate after Super Bowl LVI at SoFi Stadium on February 13, 2022 in Inglewood, California. The Los Angeles Rams defeated the Cincinnati Bengals 23-20.Andy Lyons / Getty Images

At the half Rams coach Sean McVay said his team needed to hone its winning strategy. “We got to be more efficient on early downs,” he said from the sideline.

But the clock was unusually fast in the second half as Cincinnati thew a touchdown within 12 seconds of the second-half start and then picked of a Rams pass within 22 seconds for another shot at the end zone.

The Bengals eventually scored a field goal to make it 20-16 Cincinnati.

And then it was a game of survival.

Rams wide-receiver Odell Beckham Jr. suffered an unspecified injury during the first half and was unlikely to return, McVay said.

Stafford, the Rams’ quarterback, temporarily limped off in the second half, followed by the Bengals’ Burrow, hurt in a fourth-quarter play that marked six sacks since the half.

Stafford returned and lead his team to a heroic drive that resulted in a touchdown pass to Kupp. With a successful extra point kicked, the Rams went ahead 23-20 with 1:25 left in the game.

The Bengals’ final push toward the end zone was shut down by the Rams’ defense, closing the game.

Los Angeles Rams' Andrew Whitworth, left, and Von Miller hold the Vince Lombardi trophy after the LA Rams won the 2022 Super Bowl in Inglewood, Calif., on Feb. 13, 2022. Frederick J. Brown / AFP - Getty Images

It might be remembered for its unlikely competitors — both teams were conference fourth seeds seen as long-shot Super Bowl contenders — and its place as a symbol for a changing of the guard for NFL’s superstar talent.

The Bengals’ route to SoFi included its Jan. 30 win over Kansas City when fellow new-generation quarterback Patrick Mahomes thew an interception that allowed the Bengals to win with a field goal in overtime.

For L.A., the ticket to the Super Bowl included a mathematically improbable win over San Francisco the same day. The Rams had previously lost six in a row to the 49ers.

One of the game’s Cinderella stories belonged to Rams safety Eric Weddle, who had retired to San Diego after 13 seasons in the NFL, his last with the Rams in 2019.

The team asked him to return amid personnel gaps caused by injuries, and Weddle, 37, was in the game for his first Super Bowl. “Is this real? Is this real life?” the player said last week.

Elsewhere the league lost two of its living monuments when they retired this season: Tom Brady, perhaps the game’s greatest-ever quarterback, if not player, and Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger, who bowed after an 18-season career likely headed for Hall of Fame recognition.

It was only the fourth Super Bowl in 21 seasons that didn’t feature the throwing arms of Brady, Roethlisberger, or Eli Manning, who retired as a member of the Denver Broncos in 2016 after 18 seasons in the league.

Image: Super Bowl LVI - Los Angeles Rams v Cincinnati Bengals
Owner of the Los Angeles Rams Stan Kroenke holds up the Vince Lombardi Trophy after the 2022 Super Bowl at SoFi Stadium, in Inglewood, Calif., on Feb. 13, 2022.Ronald Martinez / Getty Images

The NFL didn’t have to wait for the next potential superstars to step up. At 25, Burrow displayed agility on the ground and in the air as the Rams’ Stafford, 34, struggled with sacks and an interception.

It’s only the second Super Bowl to feature two top draft picks for quarterback, Burrow and Stafford, head-to-head.

But the youth story of the Super Bowl belongs to two of the youngest coaches ever to make it there: McVay, 36, of the Rams, and Zac Taylor, 38, of the Bengals. The two composed the youngest head coaching matchup in Super Bowl history.

Both helmed their teams’ unlikely journeys to the Super Bowl and into the Hollywood spotlight.

The game was carried by NBC, Telemundo, Peacock and NBC Sports. Along with NBC News, they are subsidiaries of NBCUniversal.

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