49ers vs. Rams NFC Championship Recap
The 2022 NFC Championship pitted divisional rivals that had plenty of bad blood. The Los Angeles Rams and the San Francisco 49ers: two historical franchises that had very different paths into the NFL’s final four.
By the Week 8 trade deadline, the Rams had pushed all their chips to the center of the NFL poker table.
Starting in the offseason, coach Sean McVay brought in former Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford to bolster an offense that felt restricted with Jared Goff at the helm.
Los Angeles also swung a big trade for linebacker Von Miller, while adding receiver Odell Beckham Jr. in free agency.
The starpower on the team looks like something from Madden. After playoff wins against the Cardinals and the Buccaneers, the new-look Rams looked like they were getting in a rhythm at the perfect time.
As for San Francisco, much of the team looks the same as the one that made the Super Bowl just two years ago. Despite drafting quarterback Trey Lance in the first round, veteran passer Jimmy Garoppolo has held down the starting position throughout the season.
Unlike the Rams, things were far from smooth in the regular season for the 49ers. A 3-5 start to the season cast a lot of doubts across the Bay Area on if this team could make a playoff run.
San Francisco turned it around in a hurry, clinching a playoff berth with a comeback victory over the very same Rams in Week 18 of the regular season.
The 49ers were sparked by a strong defense and running game, along with the emergence of wide receiver Deebo Samuel, who ran, received and even threw the ball for the red and gold.
As for the game, So-Fi stadium was the site for this one. The same stadium will host the Super Bowl in roughly two weeks and the Rams were hoping to become the second straight team to get home-field advantage in the big game.
The playoff game sounded like it was in Santa Clara, though — the 49ers’ faithful came out in numbers, with a sea of red filling part of the stadium.
The Rams opened the scoring in the second quarter, with Stafford hitting All-Pro wide receiver Cooper Kupp for a 16-yard touchdown to take a 7-0 lead.
The very next possession, the 49ers turned to their own star receiver, Samuel. The speedy Samuel caught a screen pass and took it all the way to make it 7-7.
San Francisco added on a field goal at the end of the first half and then got a touchdown reception from tight end George Kittle to take a 17-7 lead entering the final frame.
In a Super Bowl-or-bust season, Los Angeles needed a comeback to keep its title hopes alive.
It drew within three with Cooper Kupp’s second touchdown of the day, this time from 11 yards out.
After a quick punt from the 49ers, the Rams got it back again and were able to tie the game on a field goal, and the very next drive, they got another field goal to take the lead 20-17.
Having allowed 13 unanswered points, the 49ers had one drive to respond. Unfortunately for Jimmy Garoppolo, he had to deal with one of the NFL’s scariest pass rushes.
With Aaron Donald flying into the backfield, Garoppolo heaved up a prayer on third-and-a-mile.
The result: a wobbly pass that bounced off the hands of running back JaMycal Hasty and into the arms of Travin Howard. Ball game.
It was a back-and-forth game, and coupled with the Bengals thrilling victory in Kansas City, made for an exciting conference-championship weekend.
The Rams will get to play the Super Bowl in their home stadium as Stafford, Donald, McVay and others search for their first championship.
Sam Woloson is a first-year majoring in journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.