It’s hard to believe that 2022 has already come and gone. The Los Angeles Rams started the year, winning four unforgettable playoff games. However, they’ve finished it with a pretty forgettable season.
That four-game stretch in January and February was pretty special and it included some pretty special plays.
Nobody will ever forget the “For the Love of the Game” play that sent the Rams past the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFC Divisional Round. Aaron Donald forcing a Jimmy Garoppolo interception in the NFC Championship game against the San Francisco 49ers, punching the Rams ticket to the Super Bowl is a win that Rams fans will never forget.
The Super Bowl had special plays of its own as well. Matthew Stafford’s ‘no-look pass’ on the final drive is legendary as well as his touchdown pass to Cooper Kupp to give the Rams the lead. Donald forcing Burrow’s incompletion to end the game made sure the Rams were hoisting the Lombardi Trophy.
That’s as good as it got for the Rams in 2022, but no matter what happened, that was going to be pretty tough to beat.
The Ringer put together a list of their 52 favorite sports moments and both Matthew Stafford and Aaron Donald made the list.
Matthew Stafford’s No-Look Pass Lifts the Rams to Glory
To nobody’s surprise, Matthew Stafford’s no-look pass on the final drive of the Super Bowl makes the list. The Rams took a lot of criticism when they traded for Stafford. He was a quarterback that had never won a playoff game while playing for the lowly Detroit Lions. If he were actually a top-tier quarterback, wouldn’t he have been able to win one playoff game?
Stafford’s performance in the playoffs, specifically on the final drive of the Super Bowl is exactly why the Rams traded for Stafford. These are the throws that Stafford makes and Jared Goff doesn’t. With the game on the line, Stafford pulled this out of his arsenal to move the linebacker with his eyes and the rest is history. Here’s what The Ringer’s Steven Ruiz had to say,
“Matthew Stafford may not be a historically great quarterback, but he is a historically cool one. He’s capable of throwing a football pretty much anywhere on the field...It’s not the first no-look pass we’ve ever seen...But Stafford had enough confidence in himself to trust the fancy technique on THE BIGGEST PLAY OF HIS CAREER. It was a bold move, and I’m happy it paid off. Not because I wanted the Rams to win the Super Bowl—I didn’t care about the result—but because it prevented any football coaches who hate fun from being able to point to it as proof that quarterbacks should just stick to their fundamentals instead of trying cool shit. Stafford took the coolest option possible and it helped him win the biggest football game of the year.”
Matthew Stafford really threw a no-look pass on the game-winning drive in the Super Bowl.— Ari Meirov (@MySportsUpdate) February 14, 2022
Cooper Kupp: “That was probably the best no-looker of his life. I saw the lane and he fit it right in there.”
So gutsy and so awesome. pic.twitter.com/lRVGgAvyzk
Aaron Donald’s MVP-Worthy Sequence
Donald showed off his greatness during the Rams’ playoff run and that was on full display in the Super Bowl. Motivated by Donald’s sideline speech, the defense completely shutout the Cincinnati Bengals in the fourth quarter, allowing the offense to climb back in the game and take the lead.
With the game on the line on the final drive, it was Donald that stopped Samaje Perine short on third-and-1 and then Donald that broke through the line immediately, and tossed Joe Burrow to force an incompletion. Sean McVay knew Donald would make a play when it mattered and he did just that. It’s no secret how badly Donald wanted to win a Super Bowl and when it was all over, arguably the NFL’s best defensive player ever got to hoist the Lombardi Trophy. Here’s what The Ringer’s Lindsay Jones had to say,
“With all due respect to Cooper Kupp, the MVP of Super Bowl LVI was Aaron Donald. It was clear to me that night last February at SoFi Stadium, and it’s a truth that hasn’t changed in the 10 months since. Donald closed out the Rams’ win over the Bengals in classic Donald style...The stat total didn’t matter; that moment capped an utterly dominant postseason run by the greatest defensive player of this generation...it was that final pressure of Burrow that was my favorite sports moment of the year—the best all-around player I’ve ever seen coming up big on the biggest stage in American sports...Donald ripped off his helmet and started celebrating by emphatically pointing to his ring finger. Up until then, he hadn’t gotten over the Rams’ Super Bowl loss to the Patriots three years earlier. Winning a championship was truly all Donald had left to achieve...He deserved to be Super Bowl MVP, and I think he would have been, had votes been tallied after the clock hit zero and not while the game was still in progress.”