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Rams’ wild Super Bowl victory over Bengals

Newsman:  The championship capped a triumphant return to Los Angeles for the Rams, which won its only other Super Bowl as the St. Louis Rams in 2000. The Rams hoisted the Lombardi Trophy in their own stadium – becoming the second team to do so in as many years and the team’s home field at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, Calif., also hosted a halftime show that featured hip-hop with a West Coast flair.

Sean McVay and his team overcame a series of potentially crippling twists and turns to pull off a 23-20 comeback victory over the Cincinnati Bengals.

“I’m so proud of this group,” said Sean McVay, the Rams head coach in a post-game interview.

The Los Angeles Rams rallied for a late touchdown to defeat the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday, 23-20, marking the second straight year a team won the Super Bowl on its home field. It didn’t have to travel far to enjoy a celebratory Super Bowl victory parade.

The Rams needed more than 59 minutes to seal the victory in Super Bowl LVI, with Cooper Kupp, the game’s most valuable player, catching a short touchdown pass from quarterback Matthew Stafford with 1.25 left to play. That put the Rams on top – again – and for the final time.

L.A. started off the game strong. Wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. scored the first touchdown off a pass from Stafford, giving the Rams an early lead. But the Bengals kept the game close and took the lead on the first offensive play of the second half. Quarterback Joe Burrow hurled a deep throw to wide receiver Tee Higgins, who leapt for the catch and fended off Jalen Ramsey to score a 75-yard touchdown, putting the Bengals ahead 16-13. Replays showed Higgins grabbed Ramsey by the face mask and turned his head, a penalty that was not called.

That Rams’ roster was assembled with a championship in mind: The team traded for Stafford, who had played for the Detroit Lions, last offseason. Team officials signed Beckham Jr. in November. Both added to an offense that revolved around Kupp, who led the regular season in yards, touchdowns and receptions. The team also added veteran linebacker Von Miller in November, who helped defensive tackle Aaron Donald pressure Cincinnati. Donald stopped Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow on the game’s last drive to cap the win.

The game’s halftime show, at times, felt like an homage to golden era of West Coast rap, with Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre performing the Tupac Shakur song “California Love” — fitting for Los Angeles, where the Rams had previously played for five decades before decamping for St. Louis.

The two were joined by fellow Southern California artist Kendrick Lamar, as well as New Yorkers Mary J. Blige, 50 Cent, and Detroit’s Eminem. NPR television critic Eric Deggans called the show “the most Black-centered halftime show in Super Bowl history.”

Despite a harrowing second quarter, which featured the game-ending injury to wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., and a sputtering third quarter, the Rams managed to do exactly what McVay preached.

And in the end, it was the biggest stars who came through for the Rams as Cooper Kupp, who finished as Super Bowl MVP after hauling in eight catches for 92 yards and two touchdowns, woke from a quiet second half to bail Matthew Stafford out with one clutch catch after another in the final five minutes of play. Then Aaron Donald, the longtime anchor of the defense, single-handedly crushed Joe Burrow and the Bengals’ hopes for a comeback with a monstrous sack with seconds remaining in regulation.

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