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Wayne Lumbasi

The Rams battled back from a rough start to the second half to claim the franchise’s second Lombardi Trophy.

The Rams beat the Cincinnati Bengals 23-20 in the 56th Super Bowl. The game changed immediately out of halftime when, on the first play from scrimmage in the third quarter, Burrow hit Higgins deep down the sideline for a 75-yard touchdown.

Higgins’ score was immediately marred in controversy. However, as replays showed he clearly grabbed a hold of cornerback Jalen Ramsey’s face mask. No penalty was called on the play.

That score gave Cincinnati its first lead at 17-13. The Bengals increased their advantage to 20-13 before the Rams closed the door with the final 10 points of the game. They survived a pair of interceptions thrown by Matthew Stafford, an injury to Odell Beckham Jr and long stretches when the offense struggled to move the ball.

Cincinnati Bengals /Getty Images/

The big game took place at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California, the second time in Super Bowl history a team played on its home field. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were the first team to do so when Raymond James Stadium hosted the big game last year.

The win is a crowning achievement for the team’s coach, Sean McVay, Stafford and a city that had gone for years without any NFL team at all.

Sean McVay lifting the trophy to the crowd during the awarding ceremony /Getty Images/

The victory marks the culmination of a journey that began in 2016. The Rams moved to Los Angeles six years ago. They hired McVay, a then-30-year-old offensive wizard, five years ago. They lost in the Super Bowl four years ago. They missed the playoffs entirely three years ago, moved into their glitzy new home two years ago and acquired Matthew Stafford a year ago. 

The acquisition of Stafford was the boldest bet for a team full of them. After 12 years of playing for the Lions, the former No. 1 overall pick in the draft had a losing career record and had never won a playoff game. But the Rams believed McVay could unlock the abilities of a passer who had languished in Detroit. 

But no team has an appetite for risk quite like the Rams. They signed Beckham, the talented and temperamental receiver, midway through this season. They traded another two draft picks for star pass rusher Von Miller during this season. They had previously traded two other first rounders for defensive back Jalen Ramsey. They last used their first round pick in 2016 and don’t have another until 2024. 

In a sport where teams carefully plot their futures, this franchise pushed its chips to the center of the table and tried to win in the present more than any other club.

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Wayne Lumbasi