Skip to main content

At the end of the NFL season, one team wins the Super Bowl and 31 teams ask: How can we be like them?

The Los Angeles Rams’ mantra of going all in by trading away draft picks to acquire Matthew Stafford and Von Miller might look like a model to some franchises. There will be clubs that head into this offseason and say, “That could be us!” They will be looking at the Rams’ victory and thinking about how they are only a piece or two away.

The reality of the Rams is that it took every single piece they had as the most complete team in the NFL to beat the Cincinnati Bengals 23-20 at SoFi Stadium on Sunday evening. While Stafford will headline the Super Bowl win because of the trade and his long history with the Lions — and make no mistake, he deserves the credit after leading a game-winning drive, capped off by several brilliant throws to top receiver Cooper Kupp — there were contributions all over the field that led to the win.

On the final drive, Stafford had a magic-arm type throw where he rocketed the ball between Bengals defenders to find Kupp. On that play, he had a completely clean pocket, stepped up and fired the ball on the money. The Rams’ pass protection against an excellent Bengals defensive line largely held strong in the game, giving Stafford time to read the field and put the ball where he wanted. The Rams finished the season with the No. 1 pass blocking grade by PFF and held true to that in the biggest moments.

Odell Beckham Jr., acquired mid-season, opened the game with a remarkable leaping touchdown. When he went down with a knee injury, other players like No. 3 tight end Brycen Hopkins, backup running back Darrell Henderson and No. 3 receiver Van Jefferson combined for 11 catches.

Stafford wouldn’t have had a chance to raise the Lombardi Trophy had the Rams not kept Cincinnati under the pressure on defense. The Bengals opened the second half with a 75-yard touchdown pass to Tee Higgins and did not produce another touchdown. After Stafford threw an interception, the Rams sacked Joe Burrow and held Cincinnati to a field goal. A touchdown there would have been backbreaking.

Nearly everyone on the Rams’ defense made a play at some point. Linebacker Ernest Jones hit Burrow three times and had a sack. Eric Weddle, who came out of retirement to join the Rams’ playoff run, wore the green dot as the play caller on defense. A’Shawn Robinson had several key run stops that kept the Bengals from running effectively in the second half. Von Miller and Aaron Donald both sacked Burrow twice and Donald created pressure on the final play of the game that forced an incomplete pass.

While head coach Sean McVay’s commitment to running the ball put his team behind the sticks at times (23 runs for 43 yards), he still put together a successful gameplan against a defense that wreaked havoc on Patrick Mahomes’ Chiefs in the second half of the AFC Championship game. Defensive coordinator Raheem Morris put the Rams in position to hold the Bengals to 4-for-17 on either third or fourth down.

And, if we’re being honest, the Rams needed a lot of things to go their way. The Bengals dropped a third-and-long pass that might have ended the Rams’ hopes. The 49ers were up by 10 in the fourth quarter and let it slip away. The Bucs came back on L.A. and forgot to cover Kupp. But they couldn’t have been in positions to win without extraordinary efforts from the top down.

In the coming weeks, there will be debates about what the Minnesota Vikings should do with Kirk Cousins and whether they can win with him because the Rams were able to pull off a Super Bowl win with Stafford. But that idea is missing all of the other stuff that matters.

In order for a team to put themselves in position to go “all in,” they need a vastly better defensive line that can pressure quarterbacks by themselves in the biggest moments. The Rams rarely needed to blitz Burrow in the Super Bowl. The Vikings will need a vastly better offensive line. The gap between the two teams up front was obvious on Sunday. They will need more weapons. Los Angeles added Beckham despite already having Kupp and Robert Woods, prior to his injury.

The Vikings will need cornerbacks. Jalen Ramsey — though interfered with — gave up a long touchdown but the Rams’ secondary played well overall. The Vikings will need leadership. Players like Andrew Whitworth and Eric Weddle were invaluable to the Rams’ locker room. The Vikings will need Kevin O’Connell to masterfully manage personalities and gameplan with the best of ‘em. The Vikings will need Kwesi Adofo-Mensah to hit on draft picks, make savvy signings and sense when the moment to go “all in” really comes. And the Vikings will need big throws in the biggest moments from their quarterback.

That’s the model. Everything has to work in order to win a Super Bowl. If the Vikings want to be like them, there is much work to be done to the entire organization and the right decision to be made at QB. The Rams moved on from an expensive quarterback with limitations. Maybe the Vikings will too. Or maybe they will interpret this as proof that their much-maligned QB can get it done under the right circumstances.

But the point that was made in the Super Bowl is that there isn’t one decision that makes it all come together. It’s many choices over a long period of time that gather a group of extremely talented players capable of working together.

On February 14, Adofo-Mensah and O’Connell can start trying to build a team like the Rams. 

Purple Insider banner

Next Up

Ken Jeong

Licensed physician Ken Jeong to do standup in MN this September

The licensed physician will take the stage at Treasure Island Resort and Casino on Sept. 30.

Osseo Police Department

Osseo PD says officer did not pursue suspect who caused fatal crash

The crash happened in Brooklyn Park early Sunday morning.

221 Main Street. E. Albert Lea

Suspect arrested after 3 family members stabbed in Albert Lea

The three victims are related, according to police.

wastewater

Evidence that omicron strains BA.4 and BA.5 are in Minnesota

The European CDC has warned of a possible significant summer surge fueled by the omicron subvariants.

driving unsplash - crop

Hastings man charged for driving drunk with 2-year-old in vehicle

Matthew Quade's BAC was almost five times over the legal limit when police pulled him over last week.

police lights

Arrest made after person shot at Hopkins apartment building

Police say this was an isolated incident and that the victim and suspect knew each other.

covid

BA.2.12.1 omicron subvariant quickly becoming dominant in MN

Experts say the subvariant is more transmissible but there is not evidence to suggest it causes more severe disease.

Erin Maye Quade

DFLer who was in labor during endorsement convention to run in primary

Maye Quade gave a speech while in active labor before she ultimately withdrew from the endorsing convention last month to give birth.

valleyfair

Valleyfair opens this weekend, reveals full summer schedule of events

New fare includes walking tacos, hand-scooped ice cream and deep-fried pickles.

Related

Kirk Cousins

With coach and GM in place, it's time for Vikings to trade Cousins

Trading Cousins will give the Vikings the space to create a great team.

Vikings Rams, Cam Dantzler

Coller: The Vikings want to be the Rams but that will take time

It takes time to go from a 1997 Ford Ranger to a 2022 Lincoln Navigator.

Kevin O'Connell

Will Kevin O'Connell duplicate the Rams' offense in Minnesota?

A look back to see how closely recent hires have stuck to their former team's plan

Kirk Cousins

What can Kevin O'Connell do to improve Kirk Cousins' play?

If Vikings stick with Cousins, O'Connell has some ways to make the offense more efficient.

20210827_Vikings_Chiefs_PRE03_346

Imagining an offseason where the Vikings let everyone walk

The Vikings can't lose sight of developing young players as they try to compete in 2022.

Kwesi Adofo-Mensah

Coller: New Vikings GM Adofo-Mensah needs to be ruthless

Kwesi Adofo-Mensah needs to make some big, difficult decisions, writes Matthew Coller.

VK_GM_Presser-3

The Vikings, Harbaugh and 'playing it safe' with a coaching hire

The Vikings have a final four, how should they pick a winner?

Aaron Rodgers

Rodgers' return gives Vikings freedom to take long-term approach

Aaron Rodgers told Pat McAfee that he's returning for 2022.