INGLEWOOD, Calif. – Nearly 13 years after he was drafted No. 1 overall by the Detroit Lions, quarterback Matthew Stafford achieved the NFL’s highest prize, the Lombardi Trophy, by leading a determined fourth-quarter comeback. His 1-yard touchdown pass to Cooper Kupp with 1:25 remaining in Super Bowl 56 at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California, was everything Lions fans dreamed of all those years ago.
Unfortunately for them, he did it for the Los Angeles Rams, a little over a year after a trade sent him from the Honolulu Blue and silver of Detroit to the royal blue and yellow of LA. Stafford’s triumphant pass – the 15th play of a near-five-minute drive – delivered the Rams’ second Super Bowl victory, 23-20 over the Cincinnati Bengals, and the franchise’s fourth title overall. The Lions remain one of four franchises never to appear in the Super Bowl and have just one playoff victory since their most recent NFL title, won in 1957.
It’s the Rams’ first NFL title since the 1999 season – and their first representing Los Angeles since 1951.
They did it in their home, the $5 billion SoFi Stadium, making the Rams the second consecutive host to win the championship after Tampa Bay became the first a year ago.
The winning series, during which Kupp’s 4-yard touchdown reception was negated by offsetting penalties, ended soon after with the NFL Offensive Player of the Year easily beating Eli Apple in the right corner of the end zone for the winning score.
Kupp had four receptions for 39 yards on the championship drive and was named Super Bowl MVP.
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Even with that brilliant, decisive march to the Lombardi Trophy, it was LA’s “fearsome fivesome” that made the difference. Led by Aaron Donald and Vin Miller, they sacked Joe Burrow a Super Bowl record-tying seven times, shutting down the Cincinnati offense after a 22-second spurt to start the second half gave the Bengals the lead.
Fittingly, Burrow was under pressure on fourth-and-1 and threw incomplete, setting off a football fiesta this city has not seen since the LA Raiders won the 1983 championship.
Free Press sports writer Ryan Ford contributed to this report.