The Cincinnati Bengals spent their 2020 first overall draft choice on Joe Burrow, a national championship winner at LSU with enough upside to build a dynasty.
While the dynasty did not begin this past Sunday, there’s no doubt about the years of success the Bengals can look forward to with a young QB like Burrow.
On the flip side, the Detroit Lions selected Mathew Stafford with their first overall pick 11 years earlier in the 2009 NFL draft. This pick was meant to be a stepping stone for Detroit, eventually hoisting them into the Super Bowl spotlight.
Unfortunately for Lions fans, this never came to fruition. A combination of poor coaching, poor rosters and poor drafting ultimately led to 12 straight seasons of Stafford being recognized as a top-10 quarterback on a bottom-10 team.
Thankfully for Stafford, this didn’t last forever. After 12 seasons with Stafford and no Super Bowls to show for it, Detroit elected to start a true rebuild and send Stafford out the door. The Los Angeles Rams had their car warmed up and were ready to take Stafford with them as a result.
With Stafford in town, the Rams were quickly Super Bowl hopefuls, and eventually Super Bowl favorites as the season developed. Stafford finally had a blockbuster roster with targets like Odell Beckham Jr. and Cooper Kupp, coupled with a proven head coach in Sean McVay. After setting multiple single-season passing records in his first year with Los Angeles, Stafford pushed the team over the Super Bowl hump.
This past Sunday, Stafford finally hoisted the Lombardi Trophy in his 13th NFL season.
The game was not as dramatic as seasons past, but it delivered on an entertaining bout between two powerhouse rosters. The game opened with a Rams touchdown by Odell Beckham Jr., a former Cleveland Browns wide receiver who would later leave the game with a knee injury. Thankfully for Beckham, neighboring receiver Cooper Kupp came up big with two receiving touchdowns later in the game.
After a touchdown throw by Bengals running back Joe Mixon on a halfback pass trick-play and a 75-yard touchdown to Tee Higgons, the game stood at 23-20 Rams.
Joe Burrow had one last shot with a minute and a half and two timeouts to fight the three-point deficit with. After driving to midfield, the Bengal’s greatest weakness was once again shown clearly to the world. Joe Burrow threw an incompletion on fourth and one whilst being thrown to the ground by Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald, effectively ending the game.
Allowing seven total sacks on the day, the Bengal’s greatest fault was on full display in Super Bowl 56: their offensive line.
Despite the loss, Burrow focused on what the Bengals were able to accomplish this season, just two years after having a league worst 2-14 record in 2019. Burrow took to Twitter to display his content with the team’s ability to make the Super Bowl in his second year as the team’s quarterback.
“Sorry we couldn’t get it done. Proud of our team and our fans. Love these guys,” Burrows said via his Twitter page.
The future seems uncertain for several long-tenured Rams players, Aaron Donald being one of the larger question marks headed into the 2022 offseason.
Prior to the game, Rodney Harrison reported that Aaron Donald’s retirement could be imminent if the Rams went on to win the Super Bowl.
“If he wins the Super Bowl, there’s a strong possibility that he could walk away from the game and retire,” Harrison said..
Furthermore, Ram’s 37-year-old safety Eric Weddle and 40-year-old tackle Andrew Whitworth have hinted towards retirement as well. When asked about the possibility of retirement if the Rams went on to win the Super Bowl, Whitworth seemed content with the idea.
“What an unreal way to walk off. I don’t think there’s anything else I would have to do,” Whitworth said via NFL Network’s Ian Rappaport on Twitter.
The same goes for Weddle, who announced his “re-retirement” shortly after the Rams’ win on Sunday.
No matter where these players eventually end up, it’s unlikely that either team will miss out on a run for the Lombardi Trophy next season.