NFL

Super Bowl LVI: Rams triumph 'such a team victory' – Stafford

By Sports Desk February 13, 2022

Matthew Stafford deflected praise onto his Los Angeles Rams team-mates after leading them to Super Bowl LVI success.

Quarterback Stafford threw for 283 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions on 26-of-40 passing as the Rams beat the Cincinnati Bengals 23-20.

The Rams had to do it the hard way at SoFi Stadium, without Odell Beckham Jr. through injury for more than half of the game and trailing by four points inside the two-minute warning.

But Stafford and triple crown wide receiver Cooper Kupp combined for a decisive touchdown on a 15-play drive.

That was the longest go-ahead drive in terms of plays in a fourth quarter in Super Bowl history.

Stafford was asked how his work with Kupp came together, but he was eager to share the credit for the victory.

"That's hard work. That's hours together," he told CBS. "[Coach Sean McVay said], 'Matthew, you and Cooper are getting this done'. He kept calling plays for him, finding ways to get him the ball.

"He made unbelievable plays – that's what he does.

"I'm just so proud of this team, it's such a team victory. Our defense played outstanding, our special teams were big when we needed it, such a great game."

Reflecting on the game as a whole, the QB said: "I'm so proud of this team. There's so many guys on our team that deserve this, so many great players, guys that have just given their heart and soul to this team, guys that are either playing in this game or not – because of injuries or whatever it is.

"I'm just so proud of this group. That game today is the story of our season – it's up and down, it's tough, but we're a tough team, showed up late and got it done. I'm excited."

Stafford added of the secret to their success: "The way we pull for each other. We work together every single day and sharpen each other's skills.

"I get to go against that defense every single day – how can I not get better? I hope they feel the same way about us.

"We care for each other. That starts top down – Sean does an unbelievable job connecting us as players, leading the way. We follow his lead and we're here now."

Kupp, who became the second player to catch TD passes in four straight games in the same postseason, finishing with six scores in this year's playoffs, was named Super Bowl MVP.

As the celebrations started, he said: "I'm just proud of this team, the way we prepared, the way we loved all each other, trusted each other.

"I don't feel deserving of this. The guys were so good. I'm just so thankful of the guys I get to be around, the coaches, my family. I don't know what to say."

Kupp had eight catches on 10 targets for 92 yards and two TDs.

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    The Bundesliga champions were eyeing an unlikely treble, with the DFB-Pokal final to come this weekend, but those plans came crashing down in a 3-0 loss to Atalanta.

    Ademola Lookman single-handedly powered Gian Piero Gasperini's side to their first title in 61 years, producing an individual performance for the ages with a decisive hat-trick.

    European heartbreak marked Leverkusen's first loss this season, with their last defeat coming to Bochum on the last day of the 2022-23 Bundesliga campaign, as Alonso's side were finally stopped.

    Yet the former Liverpool and Bayern Munich midfielder says nothing can take away from Leverkusen's memorable campaign.

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    Leverkusen are the first team to win the league title but lose the UEFA Cup/Europa League final in the same term since Benfica in 2013-14, and the first German side to do since Borussia Dortmund in 2001-02.

    "This season and achievements have surpassed all expectations," Alonso continued.

    "I was hoping and getting ready to maybe do something great but this has been so much more.

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    A monumental occasion at the Aviva Stadium marked Atalanta's first-ever major European trophy as they became the 10th different Italian side to do so, second only to teams from England (13).

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    Lookman produced a performance worthy of the most important European moment in Atalanta's history, securing the club's first-ever major trophy on the continent after his dazzling hat-trick.

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    Ademola Lookman will be the toast of Bergamo after his hat-trick inspired Atalanta to Europa League glory, ending Bayer Leverkusen's 51-game unbeaten run after a 3-0 defeat in Dublin.

    Nigeria winger Lookman is just the second player to score a treble for an Italian side in the final of a major European competition, after Pierino Prati for Milan against Ajax in the 1969 European Cup.

    His single-handed match-winning heroics secured Atalanta's first-ever major European trophy as they became the 10th different Italian side to do so, second only to teams from England (13).

    The records continued to tumble for Lookman, whose hat-trick was the sixth in a major UEFA final and the first since Jupp Heynckes’ for Borussia Mönchengladbach against Twente in 1975.

    Having no response to a performance for the ages, Leverkusen suffered their first defeat since their final game of the 2022-23 season, ending a 361-day unbeaten run from last losing 3-0 to Bochum.

    Gian Piero Gasperini's masterclass will etch his name into Atalanta history, with the Italian – aged 66 years and 117 days on Wednesday – the fourth oldest manager to win a major European trophy.

    Only Raymond Goethals (71y 231d, 1993 Champions League), Heynckes (68y 16d, 2013 Champions League) and Alex Ferguson (66y 142d, 2008 Champions League), have done so at an older age.

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