By Steve Finley
It takes the right combination of players, coaches and front office administrators to make it to the championship game in any sport and at almost every level. When you start playing sports as a kid all the way through the professional ranks it takes a near perfect storm to reach the championship game.
The winning puzzle piece for the Rams came when they signed their head coach Sean McVay two years ago. They already had a good owner in Stan Kroenke who was ready to sign players that the coaches felt would help them reach the next level.
McVay was given the green light to bring in players he felt would help his team win now. Now his team is in the biggest game in America, the Super Bowl. They will play the New England Patriots Sunday at 3:30 p.m. on Channel 2 in Atlanta. Only thing better than this is to come away with a victory against probably the best player in NFL history, New England quarterback Tom Brady.
“We have done a lot this year,” said Rams offensive left tackle, Andrew Whitworth as he stood in their locker room last Saturday in Thousand Oaks. “We have been together all season now we have an opportunity to try and win a Super Bowl together.”
To win the game the Rams will need to pressure Brady and probably sack him at least three or four times. This will be Brady’s ninth Super Bowl and his offensive line protects him like a mother bear protects her cubs.
The Ram’s defense will have to play their best game of the season if they expect to beat the Patriots. Defensive coach Wade Phillips will have to show Brady something that he has not seen before and that’s going to be hard because the 41 year old Brady has seen a lot of defenses.
Ram’s defensive linemen Michael Brockers, Ndamukong Suh and Aaron Donald will need to put pressure on Brady and their defensive backs, Marcus Peters, Aqib Talib, John Johnson and Lamarcus Joyner will need to stop the Patriots short passing game.
The Rams had a dynamic offense all season behind the play of quarterback Jared Goff, running back Todd Gurley, receivers Brandon Cooks and Robert Woods and a strong offensive line but the players everyone forgets to talk about is kicker Greg Zuerlein and punter Johnny Hekker.
Zuerlein kicked the winning field goal against the Saints on January 20, in overtime to help the Rams reach the Super Bowl and Hekker has been one of the best punters in the NFL last few years.
McVay had this to say about Zuerlein at the Rams Training Facility in Thousand Oaks last Saturday. “As soon as you come across the 50 yard line you feel like you can come away with points. His resolve and his mental toughness are great. He is a really productive player and he has been outstanding. We would not be here without him.”
McVay knows the magnitude of this game and all of the activities leading up to the game but he wants his players to remember to stay focused. “We want to have great focus and great concentration. Enjoy the opportunity, be smart, but let us not forget we are here to try to win a football game.”