Super Bowl 57 kicks off Sunday between the 14-3 Kansas City Chiefs and the 14-3 Philadelphia Eagles in a game that will continue to change legacies across NFL history. But we can’t forget what happened just one year ago in the 2022 Super Bowl. The Los Angeles Rams defeated the Cincinnati Bengals 23-20 in Super Bowl 56.
Last year’s Super Bowl matchup was a thriller that came down to the game’s final drive. We’re recapping Super Bowl 56 and remembering how the Rams secured their second Super Bowl victory in four tries. Let’s dive into last year’s Super Bowl matchup.
Who Played in Last Year’s Super Bowl?
The Rams were able to cash in on their star-heavy roster-building approach that fully leveraged their best cap and draft assets to win the Super Bowl. After finishing the regular season 12-5, the Rams won three of their four playoff games by three points. That included their Super Bowl 56 win.
Los Angeles’ path to the Super Bowl was a shaky one. Head coach Sean McVay went all-in on quarterback Matthew Stafford after seeing Jared Goff struggle to deal with pressure as his surrounding cast deteriorated. Stafford got hot at the right time and also formed a tremendous duo with wide receiver Cooper Kupp.
The Rams finished the year with the seventh-most points scored and 15th-fewest points allowed, making them a team that didn’t exactly blow anyone away. But they had pivotal moments throughout 2022, including the trade for pass rusher Von Miller and the signing of wide receiver Odell Beckham. Both players were massive presences throughout the playoffs, and the Rams don’t win the Super Bowl without them.
Stafford helped lead fourth-quarter comebacks against the Buccaneers in the NFC Divisional Round, against the 49ers in the NFC Championship Game, and in the Super Bowl. They won those games by a combined nine points, proving to win in the margins when it mattered most. It was a run that felt like destiny.
Kupp was certainly at the focal point of the offense. He produced a whopping 33 receptions for 478 yards and six touchdowns in four playoff games and won Super Bowl 56 MVP. His most notable moment was scoring the go-ahead touchdown against the Bengals with only 1:25 left on the game clock.
Los Angeles also boasted All-Pro defensive tackle Aaron Donald and cornerback Jalen Ramsey in addition to their offensive firepower. The trio of Donald, Ramsey, and Miller led a unit that was able to bend without breaking and force big plays and turnovers in key moments.
Their opponent, the Bengals, wasn’t supposed to make it that far in the playoffs considering the youth of their roster.
Quarterback Joe Burrow led a massively improved team in his third season, and the Bengals’ defense developed into an elite unit by the time the playoffs approached. Their 27-24 upset of the Chiefs in the AFC Championship Game was a defining moment for the franchise. Their youth showed as their offense sputtered after scoring for the final time with 10:15 left in the third quarter.
While the Bengals bounced back by repeating their trip to Kansas City in the AFC Championship Game, their efforts fell short in the rematch against the Chiefs. However, the Bengals fared far better than their Super Bowl 56 adversaries.
The Rams sputtered to a 5-12 record as injuries piled on throughout the season. It was the worst record a Super Bowl winner has posted in the season following their victory. Losing Stafford, Donald, and Kupp to injuries was a massive factor in that downturn.