For the second year in a row, the host city’s team not only made it to the Super Bowl, but won the biggest game of the year. And for the third time during this pandemic, a championship victory by a Los Angeles sports franchise personally ensured that my neighborhood would be obliterated by fireworks, vandalism, and overzealous assholes.
What a time to be alive.
These are the risks you take when you decide to live two blocks away from
Staples Center Crypto.com Arena in a swank, exorbitantly-priced apartment, but such is life in the city of angels, rife with insufferable traffic and gratuitous championship trophies.
As for the game itself, what began with the Los Angeles Rams firing on all cylinders quickly became the type of slugfest that induces ulcers in both fan bases. After the Rams jumped out to a 13-3 lead, the Bengals clapped back with a touchdown of their own—just in time to be down by only 3 points heading into the blockbuster Super Bowl Halftime Show that gave us memorable moments like Mary J. Blige collapsing from catching the Holy Ghost, Snoop Dogg horrifying millions of white people by blue flagging with his attire and crip walking on stage, and Eminem holding down Colin Kaepernick by taking a knee.
When the game resumed, the Rams inability to run the ball became even more painfully evident—they would finish with a putrid 43 yards on the ground—and Stafford found himself trying to pull every rabbit in existence out of a hat with Tyler Higbee watching from the bench with a knee injury, and Odell Beckham Jr.—who was balling his ass off in the first half—suffering a similar fate after a non-contact knee injury took him out of the game in the second quarter.
Things got scary for the Rams in the third quarter, when the upstart Bengals took a 20-14 lead and clung on to it for dear life. They damn near won the game, until a series of penalities and a 79-yard drive that concluded with a Cooper Kupp touchdown with only 1:25 remaining spelled Cincinatti’s doom.
It was at that exact moment that I realized my neighborhood was about to descend into absolute chaos—and part of me couldn’t be happier.
“That’s hard work, that’s hours together,” Stafford said after the Rams 23-20 win. “I just thank coach (Sean McVay) for putting it [...] ‘Hey, Matthew, you and Coop go get this thing done.’ He kept calling plays for him, kept finding ways to get him the ball. He made unbelievable plays; that’s what he does.”
There was also some guy named Aaron Donald, who, when he wasn’t preoccupied with watching teammate Jalen Ramsey get eaten alive by receivers Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins, was fine dining on Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow himself. Donald finished with three quarterback hits, two sacks, and two tackles for loss and sealed the Rams victory by putting Burrow on his ass in the game’s final minute.
“You got to be relentless,” he told reporters. “You want something bad enough you’ve got to go get it. You know it was right in front of us [...] all offseason you work, you train, you got camp, you got a long season just for this one game. You know we the last team standing.”
Word on the street is that with the Rams victory, the 30-year-old eight-time Pro Bowler is strongly considering retirement. But in the immediate aftermath of such a proud moment, the three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year refused to fuel the flames.
“I’m just on the moment,” he said. “I’m going to enjoy this with my teammates and my family for a couple of days. How about that?”
Respect due to the Rams, and I still have no godly idea how Kanye West and Eminem wore those hot-ass hoodies in this scorching 88-degree weather.