Our Illustrated Guide To How The LA Rams Beat The San Francisco 49ers To Head To The Super Bowl
We thought it'd be fun to cover the NFC Championship game with some handcrafted illustrations by our photojournalist Alborz Kamalizad and some of my own sometimes snarky observations.
It was a wild ride. After a bumpy start to the game, the hometown Rams and rival San Francisco 49ers definitely shook off the cobwebs and came to play.
Let's revisit the key moments:
Troy Aikman predicted it would come down to the quarterbacks. We agreed and offered these photorealistic renderings of Matt Stafford and Jimmy Garoppolo ahead of kickoff.
- The Good: 4 TDs, 0 INT, 131.5 passer rating, 74.5% completion percentage in 2022 playoffs.
- The Bad: 0.400 playoff winning percentage (should not be a QB stat but we needed something negative)
- The Ugly: Enjoys "stealing [people's] soul[s]"
- The Good: 0.800 career playoff winning percentage (once again, this should not be a QB stat but we had to find something positive)
- The Bad: 0 TDs, 2 INTs, 63.0 passer rating in the 2022 playoffs.
- The Ugly: He cannot whistle.
I really wish I could whistle— Jimmy Garoppolo (@JimmyG_10) December 28, 2012
First Quarter: Rams 0 - 49ers 0
Welp. All good things must come to an end. Matt Stafford tosses his first interception of the postseason on a tip drill in the end zone. Jimmie Ward nabs the ball, returning it to the SF 23.
Ward now has intercepted Stafford three times this season, adding to his 2-pick total from Week 10.
We are scoreless after quarter 1. As a wise scholar once said, "Boooooooooooo."
Second Quarter: Rams 7 - 49ers 10
Cooper Kupp opens up scoring and we are not even remotely surprised.
PAT nailed by Matt Gay. Held by Johnny Hekker. Trying to hold back the overflowing joy. 7-0 Rams.
Well, we aren't pumped about it. But this doodle is too good not to share. Deebo Samuel with the TD. Game is all square again, 7-7 with 6:10 to play in the first half.
Translation: the Rams missed that field goal.
San Francisco pulls ahead as time ticks down in the half. 10-7 49ers. We're not sad, we're just disappointed.
We've racked our brains, analyzed the numbers, and reviewed the footage. Here's some in-depth analysis from the first half of the NFC Championship game between the Rams and 49ers.
Data point no. 2 for the first half of the NFC Championship game.
Third Quarter: Rams 7 - 49ers 17
Also, ***attempts truly terrible Jerry Seinfeld impression*** what is the deal with new FOX TV shows?
Anyway, it took a while for anyone to score in the second half. And the bad guys managed to do it.)
George Kittle hauls in the pass from Jimmy GQ (it's a real nickname, we swear) for the TD. San Francisco leads 17-7 with roughly two minutes left to play in the 3rd.
(The Rams begin their drive to pull even. They benefit from a taunting penalty against the 49ers. We have some thoughts on taunting penalties.)
Fourth Quarter: Rams 20 - 49ers 17
(Hope starts to shine through.)
Cooper Kupp keeps on being Cooper Kupp. To quote Atmosphere, "take a look around, do we seem surprised?" Another TD for the league's best receiver, Rams pull within 3. 17-14 SF with plenty of time left in the 4th.
(San Francisco gets the ball back, but the stout Rams defense halts a crucial third-down conversion attempt on the ground.)
(And then a proverbial bullet is dodged)
PHEW. Glad we didn't have to dust off the interception doodle again. Stafford avoids the turnover, drive stays alive.
TIE GAME! Matt Gay splits the uprights. 17-17 with less than 7 to play.
RAMS BALL! RAMS BALL! SPORTS BALL! Aaron Donald brings the suffocating pressure and forces the throw from Jimmy G. Travin Howard with the big interception to put a nail in things.
*exhales for the next 45 minutes*
The Rams are going to the Super Bowl, folks.
Their opponent: the Cincinnati Bengals. The Joe Burrow-led squad staged an impressive come-from-behind OT victory over the Kansas City Chiefs earlier in the afternoon to win the AFC title game and punch their ticket to Super Bowl LVI.
Folks, it was a barn burner. Could it have been higher scoring? Sure. But it sure did its job of burning through every doodle LAist had on hand and kept our coverage team glued to its seat (it's me, I'm the coverage team).
And there were plenty of clutch performances throughout the game, but one stood above the rest. Cooper Kupp, you have earned the very first LAist MVP award. It is unclear if it is at all transferrable for points toward your NFL MVP candidacy.
Sure, game stats are fun. But what about mascot attributes? Choose your fighter.
These very cool horn-havers are going to the Big Game™.
This musty mascot gets to hit the golf course tomorrow! Cash in the gold dust, get a new set of clubs.