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Sports

Win baby: Super Bowl success erased subpar effort

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By: Francis Wills with SGJC Student News Network

With the Los Angeles Rams’ 23-20 Super Bowl win over the Cincinnati Bengals Sunday night achampionship ring for Aaron Donald will probably place him amongst arguably the greatest defensive players to ever play the game. The defensive end should now be in conversations with the likes of Lawrence Taylor, Reggie White, Joe Greene, Dion Sanders, and Bruce Smith.

He has to get this Super Bowl victory, leave no if ands or buts about it because he’s only getting older not younger and there is no guarantee that he’ll ever get back to this point.

Yet Donald, possibly this season’s best NFL player, had Sunday production that was sorely lacking. He was not that reliable dominant force that fans were used to seeing. Donald did not record a single sack in the first half.

At halftime Donald recorded one quarterback hurry in 19 snaps. History had shown that Donald lacked production in these types of big games as in 2019 when he and his Rams lost the Super Bowl to Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. Donald did not record a single sack in that game either.

And Donald, a three-time defensive player of the year, and seven-time first-team all- pro, did not produce in last year's game against the Green Bay Packers in the divisional playoff game.

However, football is a team sport and winning the Super Bowl erases subpar individual performances. Trailing 20-16 with less than two minutes to play, Rams QB Matthew Stafford completed a short touchdown pass to receiver Cooper Kupp to take the lead. LA’s defensive that included Donald squashed a last-minute drive by Bengals QB Joe Burrow to seal the win.

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With less than two minutes to play the AFC Conference Champion Cincinnati Bengals were leading the Los Angeles Rams 20-16 and poised to win the Super Bowl. However, the Rams scored a late winning touchdown.

And the Bengals’ unlikely post-season run cannot be denied. The perennial losers had an 18-1 chance to win the Super Bowl, which was the eighth best odds going into playoffs, yet they made it to the Super Bowl.

The Bengals started the game slow, but after a 46-yard bomb from quarterback Joe Burrow to Jamarr Chase, the Bengals scored a 29-yard-field goal to make the score 7-3 Rams with 1:41 left in the first quarter.

Although the Rams ranked 3rd in sacks & INT for the 2021-22 NFL season, it was the Bengals who’ve forced the most turnovers so far.

Going into halftime the Bengals gained an interception from Rams QB Matthew Stafford while being able to not have any turnovers at all. The Bengals have taken great care of the ball during the playoffs. They’ve only had two turnovers (fumbles/interceptions) this whole playoffs.

The Rams led 13-10 at halftime, but after the kickoff to the Bengals, Burrow threw a touchdown pass and leaped to a 17-13 lead. Both teams went on to change leads and the Rams prevailed. -- Julien Johnson