Bobby Wagner hits Wheel of Fortune by signing with the Rams

Bobby Wagner is signing with the Los Angeles Rams

The Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams are signing star free-agent linebacker Bobby Wagner.

The news broke on Thursday and the Rams delivered a tremendous tweet to announce the contract that is for five years and $50 million could reach $65 million.

Now, this is genius social media:

Defensive back Jordan Fuller was full of himself after the news.

Wagner, who starred for many years as a Seattle Seahawk, will fill the hole left when Von Miller went to the Buffalo Bills on a six-year, $120 million deal in free agency.

Kelly, Matthew Stafford to cover medical expenses for photographer who fell at parade

The Staffords will pay the medical bills and camera costs for the photographer who fell at the Rams’ parade

A day later, the Los Angeles Rams’ quarterback Matthew Stafford and his wife Kelly announced Thursday they will cover the medical expenses for Kelly Smiley.

Smiley fell off the stage during the Rams’ parade on Wednesday in Los Angeles and fractured her spine.

The incident was viewed millions of times as Matthew Stafford walked away, looking as if he didn’t care while Kelly Stafford gasped.

A GoFundme had been set up for Kelly Smiley, a professional sports photographer and $43,000 had been raised. What happens to those funds has not been revealed.

How the Rams set the Bengals up for failure on Super Bowl LVI’s most important drive

Touchdown Wire’s Laurie Fitzpatrick shows how the Rams used run looks to pass against the Bengals in Super Bowl LVI’s most important drive.

The Los Angeles Rams had three healthy running backs who were ready to set the pace in Super Bowl LVI. That did not happen. Cam Akers rushed for 21 yards on 13 carries, Darrell Henderson only carried the ball four times for seven yards, and Sony Michel picked up only 2 yards on two carries. In total, the backfield had 19 carries and only gained 30 yards.

With all this said, as the clock continued to tick, the Rams still refused to abandon the run. Many were asking why.

Across Twitter, analysts were asking why the Rams continued to run it up the middle, gaining few to no yards.

The Rams stuck with it because the tight formations forced the Bengals to stay within the hashemarks. Since the defense was getting behind the line of scrimmage, clogging the middle and dominating the run; the Rams had one drive at the end of the game to exploit the Bengals pursuit and they did.

Let’s check out each play in that drive to see how the Rams reached the red zone…

In the fourth quarter, in order to set up that last drive, the Rams kept their tight end lined up outside the offensive tackle as a blocker selling the run.

The Rams noticed that when they would run play-action off this look, the Bengals defense would drop into zone.

So, when the last drive started, the Rams knew they would continue to run the ball and then once they decided to pass, it was just a matter of finding who was open.

On the very next play after the run, from the same look, Kupp motions and then takes a jet sweep with only one guy on the outside to beat. (clip below)

 

Bengals cornerback Mike Hilton stayed in his zone as Kupp motions. Kupp knew he was getting picked up by no. 24 on the other side, so just as long as he followed his blocks, he would have a chance to beat his guy in open space.

The Rams kept the up-tempo and tight formation to keep the Bengals at the line of scrimmage. As they continued to call run plays condensing the defense, the Rams then spread the field wide.

Once the Rams knew that the Bengals would drop into zone keeping an eye on the flat, Stafford only had to find the gaps in the middle of the field and identify mismatches.

With the Rams’ up-tempo offense, the Bengals had no time to adjust.

On the next play, a linebacker was across from Kupp and even though Van Jefferson runs a perfect route in that open zone, Stafford goes to his number one receiver, Kupp, who is mismatched against a linebacker in the slot.

On the new set of downs, the Rams used the run to first condense the Bengals defense, then spread them wide (putting a guy in the flat), in order to exploit the middle of the field as shown above. They continued the plan for the entire drive.

On very next play after the run, using that same look, the slot runs a seam route, and the Rams get a running back into the flat.

As you can see, Stafford is still seeing the middle of the field wide open in between the Bengals zone. This sets up the throw of the game.

As Kupp is lined up on the outside, the Rams run a Hi-Lo concept, so if the corner creeps inside and takes away Kupp, the underneath would still be open.

Stafford does an amazing job to look off the safety in the middle of the field putting the ball right on the money giving the Rams a new set of downs.

After six straight throws by Stafford, the Rams come out in a spread look, and instead of throwing it, they go back to the ground game leading to their most effective run of day; giving them a new set of downs with less than two minutes left in the game.

We all know what happened next. Kupp took over with underneath routes to get inside the end zone.

In the end, the Rams offense had to switch up their entire game plan in the fourth quarter. They knew the Bengals were honoring the run, so they took those tight looks, disguised the ground game and took advantage of the Bengals’ zone defense. Once the Rams found the openings in the secondary, the Bengals simply didn’t have the time to adjust.

Kupp ended up getting the mismatches the Rams needed to get inside the red zone, take the lead, and become Super Bowl champions.

The moment Van Jefferson finds out his wife his giving birth: Priceless

Van Jefferson made a hasty exit from SoFi Sunday with good reason

Super Bowl 56 was done and Van Jefferson, the Los Angeles Rams’ wide receiver, was enjoying the celebration with two of his children.

The moment was interrupted Sunday when Jefferson was alerted his wife, Samaria, was about to give birth to a son. She went into labor during the game.

https://www.instagram.com/p/CZZy-hEpJYw/

The receiver handled the news in stride, filled his children in, and headed off to the locker room and then the hospital.

That would be the true definition of a Super Sunday.

Why Matthew Stafford’s no-look pass to Cooper Kupp was a Hall of Fame play

Is Matthew Stafford a Hall-of-Famer after the Rams’ win in Super Bowl LVI? Hard to say, but one throw to Cooper Kupp was Canton-worthy.

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The debate is rolling thick and fast right now as to whether Matthew Stafford is a Hall-of-Famer after the Rams won Super Bowl LVI. It’s a discussion I’d rather table until Stafford does a few more things in his estimable career (or not), but I have no doubt that when his team needed him the most to do something incredible against the Bengals’ defense in the fourth quarter of that game, Stafford came through with a ridiculous throw that should be in Canton (in some form or fashion) right now.

There’s already a decent library of ungodly Super Bowl throws, but it’s hard to to any better than this. With 3:06 left in the game, and the Bengals up 20-16, the Rams had second-and-7 from the Cincinnati 46-yard line. Stafford needed Kupp on this play, and he made that clear before it happened.

“Nice job digging in on that cheese,” Stafford told Kupp after the drive ended in Los Angeles’ game-winning touchdown. “Might be the best no-looker we got all year.”

It’s hard to argue that point. Even Patrick Mahomes, the current master of the off-platform, no-look pass, was impressed.

The dots show the conflict Cincinnati’s defense was in on that side, with Kupp heading over intermediate coverage, and tight end Brycen Hopkins taking the sit route underneath.

The overhead view shows the Bengals in Cover-3, with safety Von Bell as the robber underneath. After the game, Kupp brought up the fact that the Rams’ frequent use of no-huddle in that last drive forced the Bengals to stay in zone coverage — then, it was up to Kupp to find the gaps in those zones.

“[Head coach] Sean [McVay] did a great job — we were in a hurry-up in that last drive to keep them from setting some rushes, but also to keep them in zone calls, where you can put some pressure on them, and get some calls they feel comfortable playing,” Kupp said. “Zone some stuff off, and allow Matthew and I to find soft spots in there.”

On that play, though, Kupp was as surprised as anybody.

From the end zone view, you can see the extemporaneous nature of the throw and catch far more clearly.

The view Mahomes reacted to shows just how nuts it really was. If Bell doesn’t fall for the banana in the tailpipe — if he stays up top to react — he’s got at least a deflection, if not a game-deciding interception. Stafford had to have stones the size of two mansions to even attempt that throw into such tight coverage. He’d already thrown two interceptions in the Super Bowl, and he led the league with 20 picks thrown in the regular and postseason combined. We were a few Von Bell steps away from an entirely different discussion regarding Stafford’s legacy. But Stafford’s ability to move defenders with his eyes and his specific location, and his faith in Kupp, won the day.

“Yeah, they were playing a tough coverage for the play, to be honest with you,” Stafford said from Disneyland after the fact, sitting next to Kupp and Aaron Donald. “They had a safety [Bell] inserting into the right spot, and I just tried to move him enough to give Coop a chance to get behind him — move him with my eyes and my body, and was able to get it done. Great job by Cooper, trusting me there. I’m going to put it in a good spot, and he went in there and caught it, and made a big play.”

As ESPN’s Dan Orlovsky (Stafford’s teammate in Detroit in 2015, and the Lions’ primary quarterback in 2008, the year before Stafford was drafted first overall) pointed out in his own breakdown of the play, Stafford did a brilliant job of putting Bell on a string, and leading Bell where he needed Bell to go.

There are players who are able to make the biggest and best plays in the most important situations of their professional lives. We always wondered if Matthew Stafford would become such a player. Now, there is no doubt. When the Rams needed him most, Stafford came through with the gutsiest, almost stupidest, and in the end, most impactful throw he’s made in his 13-year career.

Whether that gets Stafford himself into Canton is a separate discussion, but the throw was Canton-worthy from the second it was completed.

4-Down Territory: Rams’ Dream Team, Bengals’ fixes, Aaron Donald’s legacy, worst-to-first?

In this week’s “4-Down Territory,” Doug Farrar and Luke Easterling review Super Bowl LVI, and posit which team could be the NFL’s next worst-to-first.

Each week in “4-Down Territory,” Touchdown Wire’s Doug Farrar, and Luke Easterling of Bucs Wire and Draft Wire, take on the NFL’s (and occasionally the NCAA’s) most pressing topics. In this week’s episode, our fearless experts get into why the Rams’ Dream Team plan actually worked, how likely it is that the Bengals get back to the Super Bowl, which other NFL team could mirror Cincinnati’s worst-to-first path, and what Aaron Donald’s legacy is if he actually retires.

You can watch the video right here:

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Rams Odell Beckham Jr. feared to have suffered torn ACL

Odell Beckham Jr. is looking at another long recovery from a knee injury

The news wasn’t good during Super Bowl 56 when Odell Beckham Jr. went down and it isn’t any better the next day for the mercurial wideout.

Beckham was having a great game for the Los Angeles Rams against the Cincinnati Bengals when his leg gave way. A non-contact injury.

Beckham caught passes of 35 and 17 yards, including the game’s first touchdown Sunday at SoFi. It was on his third target when he injured his left knee late in the first half.

Beckham was injured, and helped to the sideline by trainers. He was ruled out for the game early in the second half but returned to the sideline to watch the game with his teammates.

On Monday, a report Beckham has suffered another torn ACL.

Despite the pain, the wide receiver was able to celebrate after Los Angeles’ 23-20 victory.

“This is everything I’ve ever dreamed of, you know,” he told CBS Sports. “And there was a moment I was in the back room and they told me I was done, I couldn’t play. And I had to come back out there and be a part of this because it’s so much bigger than myself. And these boys pulled through and made it happen.”

In 2020 with the Browns, Beckham suffered an injury to his other knee, also against the Bengals.

From a failed fourth down to Aaron Donald’s last stand: Every important play in Super Bowl LVI

Super Bowl LVI was a back-and-forth thriller, and here’s every important play in the game in chronological order.

The 2021 NFL season was the longest ever, and perhaps improbably, it also gave us perhaps the greatest postseason we’ve ever season. Game after game was decided in nail-biting fashion, and Super Bowl LVI was no exception.

The Los Angeles Rams beat the Cincinnati Bengals, 23-20, but it was never a sure thing until the end. The Rams shot out to a 13-3 lead, watched Joe Burrow and the Bengals mount comeback after comeback, got their defense together at the best possible time, and in  the end, Cincinnati’s Achilles heel — an offensive line that could probably get blasted by a good SEC defensive front — turned things in L.A.’s favor.

It’s always good to look back at close games like this to see when and how things turned, especially when there were so many twists and turns. With that in mind, here are, in chronological order, all the truly important plays in Super Bowl LVI.

Rams’ Taylor Rapp proposes to girlfriend on field at SoFi

Win a Super Bowl and then propose, Taylor Rapp could not have had a better Sunday at SoFi

The Los Angeles Rams had won Super Bowl 56, defeating the Cincinnati Bengals, 23-20, Sunday at SoFi Stadium.

One Ram, DB Taylor Rapp, wasn’t happy with just earning a piece of jewelry.

He turned it into a double-ring ceremony on the field after the victory.

Check it out as Rapp proposes to his girlfriend in a moment that will live in Super Bowl history for years to come.

Well played all around, Taylor Rapp.

Rams’ radio call as Aaron Donald wrecks Bengals’ last gasp

It was the play that ended the Bengals’ hopes and the Rams’ radio voices were on it

The Los Angeles Rams had to stop the Cincinnati Bengals to earn a Super Bowl 56 victory Sunday at SoFi Stadium.

They needed a forceful play from their defense. One person was right for the job, the best defensive player in the NFL: Aaron Donald.

Give a listen as the Rams’ radio team gets to describe as the defensive force corrals Joe Burrow and forces the second-year Bengals quarterback into a while throw.

The ball was near running back Semaje Perine but the former Oklahoma star could not grab it.

Minutes later, the Rams were Super Bowl champions. The Los Angeles Rams have won their first Super Bowl.