The New England Patriots and the Los Angeles Rams are set to do battle in Super Bowl LII for the Lombardi Trophy. How did these teams get to the Super Bowl? Well, let’s look at the Los Angeles Rams and their ride to Atlanta.
The 2017 season was Sean McVay‘s first as the head man for the Rams, taking the NFL by storm. An 11-5 season and winning the NFC West was enough to put the spotlight on McVay and the Rams.
The 33-year-old took the worst offense from a season prior and made them tops in the league all in one calendar year. As the result, the organization received three top NFL award. Sean McVay was named Coach of the Year, Todd Gurley was named Offensive Player of the Year, and Aaron Donald was named Defensive Player of the Year.
2018: All-In Off-season
Les Snead, the general manager of the Rams and McVay did not rest on their morals as the off-season approached. The Rams traded away Robert Quinn to the Miami Dolphins and Alec Ogletree to the New York Giants. They let Trumaine Johnson and Sammy Watkins go in free agency. To replace the losses, the Rams went out traded for two All-Pro cornerbacks in Marcus Peters from Kansas City and Aqib Talib from Denver Broncos. They also brought in Ndamukong Suh on a one-year deal to pair with Aaron Donald.
Brandin Cooks talks about his trade as “fuel to the fire” #SBLIII @1043TheFan says “we know Patriots do a lot of different things. We need to focus on ourselves and our gameplan.” pic.twitter.com/6OeGKb410a— Cecil Lammey (@CecilLammey) January 29, 2019
The Rams were not done though as they traded for Brandin Cooks from New England to replace Watkins. To capture the off-season, the Rams made sure to take
2018 Season: The Best Team
The 2018 season opener for the Rams was in Oakland on Monday Night Football in Jon Gruden‘s return to coaching for the Raiders. A 23 unanswered points performance in the second half gave the Rams a 33-13 victory in the Black Hole. The Rams would 8-0 in the first half of the season with noticeable wins over Minnesota, Seattle on the road, Denver on the road, and Green Bay.
The last unbeaten team in the NFL suffered their first loss in the Superdome against the New Orleans Saints in a 45-35 shootout. They would bounce back at home and defeat division rival Seattle, thus sweeping the series against the Seahawks.
[HIGHLIGHT] Los Angeles Rams RB Todd Gurley became the 4th player in NFL history to score a scrimmage TD in 10 straight games to start a season (joining Hall of Famers O.J. Simpson, Lenny Moore, and Elroy Hirsch) pic.twitter.com/meDkcZCosc— The 3 Point Conversion (@3ptCnvrsn) November 12, 2018
The following week produced arguably the greatest Monday Night Football game in recent history. The Kansas City Chiefs and the Los Angeles Rams battled in L.A. because the field condition in Mexico City was unplayable. The third highest scoring game in MNF history had the Rams prevailing 54-51. A game where 10 combine passing touchdowns happened between Patrick Mahomes and Goff.
2018 Season: The Struggle
After the bye week, the Rams struggled in their next three games, to say the least. A road trip to Detroit was a fight the Rams were not looking for, but the team held on behind Gurley’s 132 yards and 2 touchdowns. Gurley’s effort was enough to give them their third straight win. The Rams clinched the NFC West crown for the second consecutive year.
The following week on Sunday Night Football, the Rams traveled to Solider Field to take on the Chicago Bears. A game in primetime featuring the top offense pitted against the top defense. This matchup was by far the worst performance McVay and the Rams showed all season. The Bears and their defense handled the Rams in a 15-6 victory. Jared Goff threw four interceptions and no touchdowns.
The struggle continued the following week on SNF. The reigning Super Bowl Champs, fighting for their season brought the heat to the Coliseum. The Philadelphia Eagles defense continued what the Bears did a week prior by forcing three Rams’ turnovers in a 30-23 win.
2018 Season: The Rebound Finish and Divisional Playoff Win
Todd Gurley is injured, the backup Malcolm Brown is lost for the season, and now the 11-3 Rams are in serious trouble. The Rams responded by signing C.J. Anderson to fill in for the final two games.
Anderson filled in admirably to close out the season as he went for 167 yards on the ground and a touchdown against the Cardinals in a Rams’ win. Then Anderson went for 132 yards and a touchdown against the 49ers in a Rams’ win that clinched the Rams a first-round bye in the playoffs.
“Just meet me in the hole one day, let’s see if that works out for you.”— FOX Sports (@FOXSports) January 29, 2019
Rams RB CJ Anderson responds to everyone criticizing his weight. pic.twitter.com/YdbB66zu5v
Having two weeks to prepare for the Divisional Round of the playoffs, the Rams hosted the Dallas Cowboys. Gurley returned with new running mate Anderson and it was the Rams’ running attack that led the way.
The NFL’s leading rushing, Ezekiel Elliott had arguably his worst performance as a pro, rushing for 47 yards on 20 carries. On the other side, Gurley and Anderson both rushed for 100 yards each, combining for 238 yards and three touchdowns. Rams won 30-22 and move on to the NFC Championship Game.
NFC Championship Game
For the Rams to have gone to the Super Bowl, they had to go to a place where they have never won, the Superdome. The rematch from Week 9, the Los Angeles Rams versus the New Orleans Saints was on and everything was on the line.
The Rams struggled in the first half on the offensive end, especially in the first quarter where the Saints led 13-0. Thanks to the play of the defense it was only 13-0 as the Saints were in the red zone
The second quarter was much of the same until McVay called for a fake punt on fourth down to keep the offense on the field. Rams scored 10 unanswered points in the second quarter and now the 13-0 lead the Saints had become 13-10 Saints at halftime.
As the game wines down, the Saints are in prime position the win the game after Ted Ginn Jr. out jumped LaMarcus Joyner to put the Saints in the red zone at the two-minute mark. Three downs later the infamous no-call for Pass Interference nor helmet-to-helmet when Nickell Robey-Coleman blasted Tommylee Lewis. That forced the Saints to kick a field goal thus leading 23-20 with about 1:20 to go. The Rams’ offense would go down and kick a 48-yard field goal with Greg Zuerlein to send the NFC Championship Game into overtime.
Sean McVay gives his thoughts on the controversial pass interference no-call against the Saints. pic.twitter.com/y0BQ1hMlxI— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) January 29, 2019
In overtime, Drew Brees and the Saints would get the ball first. On a 2nd and 16 play, Brees gets hit while throwing by Dante Fowler Jr. forcing an interception by John Johnson. Two impressive throws
Super Bowl LIII
This is the first Super Bowl appearance for the Rams franchise since 2001. Ironically that was when the New England Patriots’ dynasty begin with a rookie Tom Brady at quarterback and Bill Belichick at the helm. The Greatest Show on Turf Rams fell victim to the Patriots in Super Bowl XXXVI. 17 years later these two franchises will meet again on February 3 inside the Mercedes-Benz Stadium.