The 2021 season was filled with banner moves by the leagues best General Manager and with it came high expectations. In the end the Los Angeles Rams are the Super Bowl Champions. The Super Bowl itself was a reflection of the type of dramatic season that it took to get there in the first place. This offseason we’ll have a look back game by game to capture what took place on the road to becoming Super Bowl Champions.
We start with Week 1: Chicago Bears vs Los Angeles Rams
Here are some key plays of the game.
Kenny Young tip David Long Jr interception
The first big play of the Rams season is a turnover by the defense in the red zone. Inside linebacker Kenny Young who would eventually be traded to the Denver Broncos makes a tip that is intercepted by cornerback David Long Jr.
Matthew Stafford to Van Jefferson play action TD pass
The eventual Super Bowl champion quarterback, Stafford started his Rams career by throwing a 67 yard touchdown to second year receiver Van Jefferson. The play call was a play action boot with Stafford rolling out to his left, flipping his stance to launch the pass beyond the safeties. Jefferson showed his downfield speed that would flash multiple times throughout the season and the awareness to get up and run after not being touched down by the defenders.
Bears Fourth and four attempt stopped by Jalen Ramsey
Down by seven points and facing a fourth and four, the Bears decide to go for the conversion. Andy Dalton shoots a pass to the slot receiver on an in breaking route and it’s covered and broken up perfectly by Ramsey. Interesting choice to attack the Rams best defensive back on that critical situation. Ramsey would end the season under some criticism after allowing a deep pass touchdown to Tom Brady in the divisional round and then again giving up two deep passes in the Super Bowl. (One deep pass in the Super Bowl should have been called back) In this game, Week 1 vs Chicago, Ramsey played outstanding on his way to another Pro Bowl Season.
Cooper Kupp Touchdown
In the third quarter, up 13-7, Stafford hit Cooper Kupp for a 56 yard touchdown to extend the lead to 13. This was one of the early season plays that demonstrated how in sync the pair was and how much potential for explosives they have. Kupp lined up in the slot to the right and Van Jefferson was split out to the left. Stafford used his eyes to get the safety to bite on Jefferson’s mid level route which allowed for Kupp to break open behind him.
Robert Woods Touchdown
From the two yard line with the Rams up 27-14 in the fourth quarter, Stafford found Robert Woods over the middle for a touchdown. When targeting the back of the end zone over the middle, the ball must be placed on the top shelf, out of the way for the mid level defenders, but also the receiver can only be so far back until he’s out of real estate, the execution of this pitch and catch was perfect as Woods made an incredibly athletic catch at the high point while keeping feet in bounds for the first of four Stafford to Woods touchdowns on the season.
Given all the hype and speculation around the Stafford trade and what this Rams team might look like, there could not have been a better way to open the season. The Rams beat the Bears 34-14 and won their fifth straight season opener in the Sean McVay era. Stafford threw for three touchdowns and zero interceptions in his first game as a member of the Rams and posted what would be his best QB rating of the season with a 156.1 rating. Kupp also came out flying with seven catches for 108 yards and a touchdown to set up what would become a triple crown, Super Bowl MVP season.