By Joe Torosian —
“They come and they go Hobbs. They come and they go.”—Max Mercy
(Real Quick: May Raheem Morris live long and prosper.)
Build-up during Super Bowl week is the most important in a player’s career.
The day of the Super Bowl is the most important day in a player’s career. A big chunk of the day after the Super Bowl, when everyone is talking about the greatest day in a player’s career—is a great day in a player’s career.
But by the end of the day, after the Super Bowl,… it’s on to next year.
I could say, “It’s on to Cincinnati,” but that would be too cruel.
(At the bottom of this column is a brief list of the ten turning points in yesterday’s game. You can skip down and read a threadbare version…or click on the link and get the breakdown on RamView.)
Snead Strikes Again:
Les Snead drafted Brycen Hopkins in the fourth-round (136th overall) in 2020. He didn’t play a lick last year and was on the field only 19 times on pass plays this season. He was targeted only once and caught that one pass. The undrafted free agent Kendall Blanton got the nod tight-end with Tyler Higbee and Johnny Mundt going down.
Because a fourth-rounder is a high-value pick for the Rams, Hopkins was being viewed as a bust. But on Super Bowl Sunday, Blanton gets banged up, and Hopkins catches four critical passes for 47-yards.
Speaking of tight-ends, the Rams’ inability to run the ball was shocking–Higbee’s blocking was missed. But the offensive line’s issues are more than a missing tight-end.
While mentally tough, the Rams are physically soft along the offensive line. With money coming off the books, Snead will address it in March and April.
Defensive Snap Breakdown:
Ernest Jones: 57-snaps
Troy Reeder: 21-snaps
Travin Howard: 0-snaps
The Rams go into the offseason knowing two things.
One, they didn’t whiff and may have something in Hopkins.
Two, Ernest Givens wasn’t just good on Sunday. He was special.
I thought they were talented and entertaining to a degree, but I just didn’t care. If The Traveling Wilburys, ELO, Bachman Turner Overdrive, or Steve Miller were performing…I still wouldn’t care.
All I care about on Super Bowl Sunday is the Super Bowl.
And I certainly don’t care about The Rock and the hot garbage before kick-off.
Regarding the Bengals:
Everyone says this is the beginning for Joe Burrow and Cincy, and it should be. But many thought the same thing after Dan Marino’s first appearance…And we all know how that story played out.
If the Bengals won Super Bowl 16…Ken Anderson is likely in the Hall of Fame.
If the Bengals won Super Bowl 23…Boomer Esiason is likely in the Hall of Fame.
Instead, because they lost and never returned, Esiason is wearing silly costumes and hosting “Greatest Super Bowl Commercials of All Time.”
There was great peace in Stan Kroenke’s barely audible acceptance of the Lombardi Trophy.
As a Rams fan who acknowledges factually and emotionally the victory in Super Bowl 34, the joy of that moment was crushed when the Devil herself Georgia Frontiere declared. “It proves we did the right thing by going to St. Louis.”
(I think of Georgia the same way I think of Voltaire.)
Oh, and by the way, how badly did NBC want us to watch the Winter Olympics?
The Dude abides…
2 Corinthians 10:5
Joe T. is the author of “Tangent Dreams: A High School Football Novel” … “Temple City & The Company of The Ages” … “The Dead Bug Tales” … “The Dark Norm” & “FaithViews for Storm Riders”…and, the recently released, “Sin Virus.” All six available through Amazon.com.
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1.) Re-Think Your Analytics:
The Bengals going for it on fourth and one, from midfield, on their opening drive.
The analytics, of course, will provide coverage (CYA), but that was a bad call. The defense opened the game by stopping the Rams, and a bad choice by Bengals HC Zach Taylor set up the game’s first score.
2.) OBJ getting hurt:
Up until 3:50 to play in the first half. Odell Beckham Jr. was trending to MVP. It was going to be his day, and then he got hurt. Bummer for him, catastrophe for the Rams, turning point for the Bengals.
3.) Jalen Ramsey Keeping Focus:
In the second quarter, Ramsey gets beat by JaMarr Chase. But keeps playing and breaks up a third down pass at the goal line. The Bengals were forced to kick a field goal. If they score a touchdown it’s a different game.
4.) Leonard Floyd’s First Half Sack:
Following an arm-punt by Matt Stafford on third and 14 from midfield. The Bengals took over at their own ten with little more than a minute to play in the first half.
(Should have been at the 20, but Vernon Hargraves joined the interception celebration and was flagged. I believe Hargraves will get the Clemenza treatment: “Where’s Vernon?”…. “You won’t see him no more.”)
Cincy gets a first down, but Floyd stops the drive with a sack. Momentum was already drifting in the direction of Ohio and points, any points, could have changed the outcome of this game.
5.) Cincinnati Misses Its Moment:
Twenty-two seconds into the second half the Bengals could have stuck in the dagger.
The third quarter opens with Tee Higgins, yanking on Ramsey’s face mask, and scoring on a 75-yard touchdown pass. On the Rams ensuing possession Ben Skowronek slows down over the middle, tips the ball, and the pass is picked off.
The Bengals are ready to put it away. They advance the ball, but at 14:11 Aaron Donald shoves Burrow out of bounds. Energy picks up, teams jaw and shove. Cincy has a first down at the Rams 18, but doesn’t take a single shot into the end zone. Two plays later, Donald gets a sack on third down. Cincy kicks another field goal.
With 10:15 to play in the third quarter, the Bengals led 20-13. Not only would they not score again, but on their next four possessions they didn’t cross midfield. They didn’t even throw a pass across midfield.
On their fifth and final drive, Cincy reached the Rams 49. Burrow threw one errant pass deep, before Donald and the defense shut the door.
6.) Tyler Boyd Clanks:
Boyd’s drop with 6:20 to play on third and nine was the equivalent of a Lewis Billups dropped interception in Super Bowl 23. Boyd catches that ball and the outcome changes.
7.) This Is Why We Have Sean McVay:
There are times McVay will drive you crazy, but his Jet Sweep call on fourth and one with five minutes to play was transcendent. The Rams couldn’t run the ball, so they were going to have to pass the ball. Instead, he gets the ball to a receiver, Cooper Kupp, and has him run the ball. That was a moment where the game turned.
8.) Holding On Logan Wilson Questionable:
When you consider how much they let the teams play, calling Wilson for holding on third and goal felt ticky-tack—borderline cheap. I’ll give that to Bengals fans. But that call has to be balanced next to Higgins face-rip on Ramsey that resulted in a touchdown.
9.) Matt Stafford and Cooper Kupp:
Arm-punt in the first half, tipped ball 22-seconds into the second half, two picks. Then Stafford kept the Rams alive without a Robert Woods, Tyler Higbee, and OBJ. He’s throwing passes to Brycen Hopkins and Ben Skowronek…and keeps finding Kupp when it counts the most.
The touchdown pass called back at the end was brilliant. The game-winning fade was brilliant. Stafford was off the charts.
Cooper Kupp kept getting open without a Robert Woods, Tyler Higbee, and OBJ to take the pressure off of him. How could the Bengals not stop him when there was no one else to defend?
10.) Aaron Donald. (Rams got sacks from Floyd, Donald, Miller…Robinson and Earnest Jones)
The wrap up…and then the pressure. AD goes from great