When the result of that sport was inevitable, if not but official, Aaron pointed to Donald’s ring finger on his left hand, which had been naked for much too lengthy. He is been one of many biggest gamers within the NFL nearly because the day he bought into the league — not one of many biggest gamers of all time, one of many biggest of all time — however he is by no means laid a finger on the Lombardi Trophy.
That is what final yr was all about: The Rams going all out to win Tremendous Bowl 56. They have not picked a first-round choose within the NFL Draft since 2016. They will not do it once more till 2024.
They gave away two first-round picks as a part of a deal to modify quarterbacks with the Lions, bringing in Matthew Stafford and giving him an opportunity to rewrite a profession file that was 16 video games underneath .500 when he arrived in LA.
SUPER BOWL 56: Iyer’s Selection ATS | Bender’s direct selection
They traded second- and third-round picks for two 1/2 months from linebacker Von Miller in November. They signed Odell Beckham Jr. as a free agent after he labored his approach out of the Browns’ roster, which is not straightforward as Beckham rightly argued he could not afford to move up the chance.
Whether or not all of it labored will depend on whether or not you view Tremendous Bowl attendance, secured with Sunday’s 20-17 NFC Championship sport win over the 49ers, as success.
It may really feel that approach after a triumph like that, however the Rams have been right here earlier than and it wasn’t that way back. They reached that plateau within the 2018 season, dropping miserably to Tom Brady and the Patriots. At this time is all about being there, however the Rams have not squeezed life out of their future simply to take pleasure in these subsequent two weeks within the highlight.
“We had excessive expectations all yr and we did nothing however do the whole lot in our energy to fulfill them,” Stafford advised reporters after the sport. “We now have a motivated group there. It wasn’t good. It wasn’t straightforward in some locations, however we discovered a method to win the sport.”
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It has been a long time since anybody has tried to win a championship the way in which the Rams are doing now, not a lot disregarding draft picks as viewing them as investments within the current somewhat than the longer term. As a substitute of saving for retirement, they purchase this rattling yacht and dwell in Marina del Ray.
Miller contributed 5 sacks within the eight regular-season video games he performed for the Rams, however all of them got here within the final 4 weeks of the season. Within the first two playoff video games, he delivered one from every. As a group, LA by no means reached the Niners’ Jimmy Garoppolo, however he knew the Rams’ fearsome entrance was there. Their push for third and lengthy within the 49ers’ ultimate try and win the sport resulted in two precipitous incompletes and a determined half-slung interception.
After catching 17 passes for 232 yards in six video games with the Browns, together with only a single reception for six yards in a Halloween loss to the Steelers, Beckham bought hit onerous by Rams gamers, together with Miller, after his launch by the Browns recruited to LA. Beckham performed higher within the the rest of the common season, however he stepped ahead with authority within the playoffs, catching 10 for 123 yards within the group’s first two wins after which dominating the Niners with 9 catches for 113 yards.
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“It was the whole lot,” Beckham mentioned. “To be built-in into the plan, to take me in, simply push me to the max…the whole lot about this place is true, completed proper, and it was simply an incredible alternative. I really feel like I am simply attempting to make the most effective of it, and right here we’re within the Tremendous Bowl, only one sport away from our goals. Let’s transfer on.”
It may be ignored what a threat it was to imagine that Stafford was a championship-level quarterback. A starter since 2009, now per week shy of his thirty fifth birthday, he was near 50,000 yards when the Rams took him on however had solely performed three playoff video games throughout his profession, dropping every of them. These losses totaled 41 factors, and it has been actually years.
Maybe this expertise was mirrored within the path to this place. The Rams completed the yr 12-5 and completed fourth within the NFC after they performed their ultimate sport of the common season in opposition to the identical 49ers on the identical subject at SoFi Stadium. Stafford threw 17 interceptions, greater than any quarterback within the league.
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He wasn’t that quarterback within the playoffs. On Sunday he was 31 of 45 for 337 yards and two touchdowns, his solely main error approaching a possible scoring drive within the first quarter that changed into a deflected interception.
“We went out and bought him as a result of we thought it was an opportunity to get an awesome participant of his measurement – that does not occur typically,” coach Sean McVay advised reporters. “He made me a greater coach. He made his teammates higher. He is such an awesome individual. If you happen to do not help this man, one thing is flawed with you.
“He is an awesome competitor… I believe that is actually proven in the previous couple of weeks. We discuss aggressive measurement on a regular basis: Be your greatest when the most effective is required. He embodied aggressive greatness at the moment.
“No second is simply too huge for him, I can inform you that. He exalted everybody round him. We now have another. We all know it will likely be a giant problem.”
MORE: Stafford thanks his spouse for help: ‘Could not have completed it with out her’
The Rams introduced Stafford, Beckham, Miller and flashy cornerback Jalen Ramsey — acquired from the Jaguars in 2019 for 2 first-round picks and a fourth-rounder — to their press room to talk to the media, however not their largest participant. Donald made the one assertion obligatory with the gesture following Tavin Howard’s essential choose.
“He was Aaron Donald: vocally, bodily, emotionally,” Miller mentioned. “That is what leaders do, man. He was an awesome chief. It simply feels good to contribute. The Tremendous Bowl is all he wants and he can go into the sundown. I’ll do the whole lot in my energy to make it occur for him.”
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