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    Los Angeles Rams: Sean McVay exorcises past demons to win Super Bowl 56

    Sean McVay made the necessary adjustments when it mattered the most to win Super Bowl 56 and exorcise his past demons from Super Bowl 53.

    INGLEWOOD, Calif. — Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay sat at the podium following the Rams’ Super Bowl 56 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals with a sense of relief. Three years ago, McVay sat at a similar podium after losing to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl 53. He had few answers then, but promised to self-scout and get better. And now, in 2022, the Rams are Super Bowl champions.

    Sean McVay learned lessons from Super Bowl 53

    Talking to media last week, McVay reflected on the lessons he learned from that humbling loss in Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia, against the Bill Belichick-led Patriots.

    “I think what you do to get over it is you look at yourself in the mirror, you take accountability, and you keep it moving,” McVay said. “I think as a competitor, you have to be able to handle those tough moments, and I’ll never run away from the fact that I didn’t do a good enough job for our team within what I feel like my role and responsibility is to these guys.

    “I think you say, ‘OK, if you had it differently, what are the things that you learn as far as the decision-making, the adjustability, the ability to be totally in the moment during the game and be able to make those adjustments quicker than what we were able to do and how you approach the two weeks of preparation?’

    “But whether it was a game like that or whether it was a game from a couple weeks ago, you’re always trying to learn, you’re always trying to evolve, and I think you want to be able to learn from previous experiences but not allow it to inhibit your ability to be able to move forward.”

    After Friday’s walkthrough practice, McVay was upbeat, optimistic, and confident about the team’s preparation for the Super Bowl 56 matchup.

    “We’re very confident,” McVay told a pool reporter. “We’re ready to go. Then we’ve just got to play great in that window that we’ve got. There’s a good look in their eyes. I think there’s a good urgency, but also I just have a good feel about this team. I feel excited to watch them go and do their thing.”

    McVay made the right adjustments in the fourth quarter

    It wasn’t looking promising for McVay and the Rams in the second half. After getting off to a fast start and a 13-3 lead, the Rams lost Odell Beckham Jr. due to a knee injury, and the offense seemed to be out of sync. They wouldn’t find the scoreboard again until Matt Gay kicked a field goal with 5:58 remaining in the third quarter.

    And from there, it was more of the same until the comeback drive led by QB Matthew Stafford. That’s where the turning point came for McVay and where his adjustments were on full display.

    “You know, we were able to go tempo, kind of regulated them to get them to play some zones,” McVay said. “And a lot of the third-down situations, they were kind of doubling [Cooper] Kupp, especially once Odell went out. You know, they were able to really kind of just hone in on him. But Matthew and Cooper made the most of their opportunities in the most important and critical times, and the offensive line did a great job protecting.”

    And that they did. On the final play of a 15-play, 79-yard drive, Stafford found Kupp in the corner of the end zone to take the lead with 1:25 remaining in the game. It seems so minor, but these are the things that determine the winner and loser in a close contest. For McVay, that adjustment led his team to victory.

    McVay trusted Matthew Stafford when it mattered the most

    But all of this may not have happened if it weren’t for the trust that McVay had in Stafford. In Super Bowl 53, McVay had Jared Goff, now of the Detroit Lions, under center. Rumors had swirled back then that McVay didn’t trust Goff enough to run the offense, and in turn, McVay would help Goff with adjustments before his radio communication cut out.

    With Stafford — whom the Rams traded for in the 2021 offseason in a package that included Goff, a 2021 third-round pick, and first-round picks in 2022 and 2023 — McVay had a quarterback he could trust to execute his vision on the field.

    “A lot of trust in him [Stafford]. You wanted to put the game in one of your best player’s hands and the guy you feel like has led you to this position,” McVay said after the game. “You put the ball in your best player’s hands when it matters most. That’s what we did with Matthew, and he delivered in a big way. He’s a world champ.”

    The Rams’ roster-building strategy led them to a Super Bowl

    In a game that saw many twists and turns, McVay used the last six minutes and 52 seconds of the fourth quarter to finally exorcise the demons that have haunted him since losing in LA’s last Super Bowl appearance. It is a culmination of the five years of work that McVay and the Rams’ front office have put into the team.

    And although they haven’t done it the traditional way — building by acquiring assets rather than through the draft — you can’t argue with the results, and neither can McVay.

    “I think it’s a lot of good decisions stacked on one another. … I’m just really pleased to be associated with a group that is not afraid to shoot their shot and take chances on things we feel like is in the best interest of the football team,” Mcvay said. “There are a lot of rolled eyes at us, but we believe in those things, and we’re going to do things that we think are in the best interest.

    “Whether it’s myself, Les [Snead], Kevin [Demoff], Tony Pastoors, and it all starts with Mr. Kroenke and his trust and willingness. Then the players being able to onboard the guys in the right way, it’s sweet, and I’m really happy for these guys.”

    Now, at 36 years old and 20 days (as of February 13, 2022), McVay becomes the youngest head coach to win a Super Bowl. This beats the previous record by 301 days, held by Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin.

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