Good morning Turf Show Family. You’ll be happy to know you weren’t dreaming the Los Angeles Rams’ 23-20 win over the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday. That’s right...THE LA RAMS ARE SUPER BOWL CHAMPS!!!
Last night’s victory was pure magic. The stars aligned when Cooper Kupp and Aaron Donald came through when it mattered most. How could I forget Matthew Stafford since he was a necessary piece to the Rams’ Super Bowl puzzle ever since the arrival of Head Coach Sean McVay in 2017? Stafford showed the world exactly what he was made of against Cincy on the sport’s grandest stage. His counterpart on the opposite sideline seemed to take notice of the veteran’s heroics.
Time to put some respect on Matthew Stafford pic.twitter.com/NfyfZWZuZy— PFF (@PFF) February 10, 2022
Now, I understand some fans are getting fed up with this take which is apparently growing much too old for their taste. However, it can’t be said enough given that Stafford will continue to get all the hate he’s gotten his entire career. Sure, it’ll die down a little given that he’s won the Big Game, but occasionally you’ll see some jokers with takes on social media like these:
“Boo-hoo, poor Stafford, he went from playing with a Hall of Famer in Detroit and is now on a whole team of them with the Rams.”
“He was carried by Kupp and Donald...enough said.”
“Anyone could’ve won with this Rams team.”
I’m not going to press on with anymore ice-cold takes since I’d prefer to keep my brain cells. Instead, let’s dive into why Matt wasn’t exactly carried to a championship and how he elevated this LA team from being a playoff contender to being Super Bowl-caliber. Last night, this is all that Stafford had to endure before leading the Rams to victory:
things matthew stafford had to overcome to win tonight:— Tej Seth (@tejfbanalytics) February 14, 2022
•a run game that rushed for 1.9 YPC
•no woods, OBJ or higbee
•a dropped pass leading to an INT
•a play-caller that consistently put him behind the chains pic.twitter.com/3fr315kUHG
Tight end Tyler Higbee was inactive for the game. OBJ was lost prior to halftime. The team’s running game (if you could call it that) carried the ball 23 times for a grand total of 43 yards. Cam Akers was the leading rusher with a mere 21 yards on the ground. Stafford was still able to overcome these obstacles with perhaps one of the bad@$$ and gutsy throws I’ve ever seen in my life.
A no-look pass on the game-winning drive. @brgridiron— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) February 14, 2022
Matthew Stafford is different
(via @NFL) pic.twitter.com/JSbcdKGf4v
That’s right, a no-look pass, on a game-winning drive. This was already a masterful throw but it’s all the more impressive when you see it from other angles. Stafford is like John Wick with a pencil in his hands. Who the heck can do that? It’s not like the 13-year player has been doing this his entire career or anything. Matt only had a 100-yard rusher 11 times in his entire Detroit tenure. But please, tell me again how he had Calvin Johnson.
What about how “Kupp apparently carried Stafford”? Coop has obviously been lethal with the ball in his hands in 2021. Last season, that wasn’t at all the case when he caught only three touchdowns with Jared Goff at the helm. Matt seemingly unlocked something special in Kupp as the two formed a significant bond similar to the one he had with Johnson at one time.
In their 1st season together, Matthew Stafford & Cooper Kupp connected for 22 TDs including playoffs.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) February 14, 2022
That's the 2nd most by a QB-receiver duo in a season in NFL history, trailing only Tom Brady & Randy Moss (24), who were also in their 1st season together in 2007. pic.twitter.com/M1lKXMntNl
Stafford’s playoff run has been clutch as can be, as evidenced by his last three games against the Buccaneers, 49ers and Bengals.
The Rams were tied or losing in the 4th quarter of their last three playoff games— PFF Fantasy Football (@PFF_Fantasy) February 14, 2022
Matthew Stafford led a game-winning scoring drive in all of them pic.twitter.com/MBE7Hv7jg1
Matthew also passed a certain Greatest Show on Turf legend and some other guy who just retired (I wanna say his name was Tim) on this magical championship run.
Matthew Stafford ties Tom Brady in 2020 for the most pass TDs in a season, including playoffs, by a QB who won the Super Bowl.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) February 14, 2022
Both had 50. pic.twitter.com/u1cXxn7BqA
So after all these years, the media was lying to me? (Nothing unusual there.) It appears Matthew Stafford was able to win the biggest games after all. Those takes aged about as well as an ice cream cone underneath the blistering California sun. What I can’t fathom is how all these people dislike Stafford. I get that he didn’t win much of anything with the Lions, but in all fairness, no one really has.
Stafford never once complained about being on losing teams. He never threw his teammates under the bus after a bitter defeat. Matt is probably the presence most franchises would kill to have in their building. He is someone who put his head down and always went to work. It didn’t matter when he would play through injuries or a sorry excuse of a roster. All of a sudden, he wins a title after finally having enough of the losing and now he’s the bad guy in this situation? Listen to how he talked about Lions fans in the postgame and continuing trying to push this baseless notion on me.
"There's no reason for them to cheer for me anymore and the fact that they did is just a true sentiment to who they are as people and who they are as fans."— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) February 14, 2022
Matthew Stafford shouts out Detroit Lions fans for their support pic.twitter.com/B7unuTvc15
Matthew Stafford has been nothing but a class act for his entire career and to say anything less says more about the type of character these haters are. He played a significant role in winning the Super Bowl title that badly eluded the Rams in 2018. Will his efforts this season make him a Hall of Famer? That I cannot say even after a glance at his resume prior to Year 14.
Matthew Stafford— ProFootballReference (@pfref) February 14, 2022
49,995 passing yards, 12th all-time
323 passing TDs, 12th all-time
42 game-winning drives, 7th all-time
Super Bowl Champion pic.twitter.com/mvGayzZm3F
What I can say here is that Stafford is well on his way to Canton. He won a ring last night which seems to be the defining quality of a Hall of Famer anymore. Matt has a chance to continue adding to his legacy in Los Angeles and that is worth watching as his career progresses.
For Rams fans, they should just enjoy this journey for as long as it lasts. It’s not worth getting caught up on what Stafford might become. Be present in the moment and appreciate what he is currently and that is a FREAKING SUPER BOWL CHAMPION!!!