LOS ANGELES — Cooper Kupp’s prolonged household gathered inside Suite 4W-10 when every little thing got here collectively on Monday evening. They might not have requested for a greater view (50-yard-line, fourth degree), higher stadium meals (sushi, brief ribs) or a greater reminder of the stakes (SoFi Stadium will host Tremendous LVI in slightly below 4 weeks). Because the Rams playoff push started, with Cooper on the heart of it, they couldn’t assist however marvel. Think about if …?
About 20 minutes earlier than kickoff, just one downside remained: Cooper’s beard. His paternal grandmother isn’t a fan. Neither are his dad and mom. However all perceive why Cooper went full lumberjack this season, refusing to trim the hornet’s nest that unfold throughout his cheeks and disappeared his chin. He saved ready for a foul recreation to start out the shearing, not eager to mess together with his 2021 mojo. “However he hasn’t had one,” that grandma, Carla Kupp, mentioned contained in the suite.
The Kupps want no reminder of Cooper’s season, however one materialized anyway. Whereas Carla and her husband, Jake, chatted with their son, Craig, and his spouse, Karin, the one who introduced all of them collectively Monday flashed throughout the biggest video board on earth. It’s not likely a video board, even, however extra of a video ring, a collection of boards connecting to kind a marquee worthy of the Rams star-studded roster.
There was Cooper, his beard and his accomplishments, the record so lengthy that solely a board of that measurement would do. His receptions (145, second-most in NFL historical past for one season) flashed throughout the display screen(s). His receiving yards (1,947, additionally second-most ever) did, too, alongside together with his receiving touchdowns (16), his 100-yard video games (11, tying an NFL report) and the phrases “Triple Crown.” The final one was in reference to Kupp main the league in receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns caught, changing into solely the fourth participant since 1970 to take action.
At that time, as bass thumped, towels whirled and the din drowned out conversations, no person cared in regards to the beard. Actually, the Kupps compelled themselves to embrace it, if solely due to what it meant and may imply, in about 4 weeks. Craig Kupp checked out all these video screens and, caught in a surreal second, whispered, “It’s simply loopy.”
Certainly. There have been celebrities within the stands, franchise legend Torry Holt hyping up the group, Michael Buffer on the microphone, let’s get able to rumble and all that. As Kupp discovered his coach, Sean McVay, for a fast embrace, it was straightforward for these assembled in Suite 4W-10 to see Monday evening as the beginning of one thing extra. The bottom shook. The group roared. The beard remained, as did the Rams’ Tremendous Bowl probabilities, which elevated Monday evening.
This wasn’t the area to deal with considerations, to say the stumble late in opposition to San Francisco within the regular-season finale, the accidents that decimated the depth at security, or quarterback Matthew Stafford’s uneven, turnover-marred second half of the season. No, in what they known as the Nemo Suite, nicknamed after its proprietor, non-public fairness titan Ofer Nemirovsky, there was one factor they had been discovering: hope.
Hope that Stafford would play like he was enjoying, after a season wherein he ranked second within the NFL in passing touchdowns (41) and tied for essentially the most interceptions (17), too. The pair of picks he threw in Week 18’s loss to the 49ers was a part of how L.A. dropped to the fourth seed within the NFC, that means they possible hosted their last recreation this season on Monday evening. Towards the Cardinals, although, Stafford was regular all through and sometimes spectacular, with nearly as many landing passes (two) as incompletions (4).
Hope that Odell Beckham Jr. will proceed his speedy integration into the Rams high-powered offense, serving to to beat the devastating knee harm suffered by crew chief Robert Woods in November. In solely Recreation 8 since signing with L.A., Beckham caught his sixth landing go in a horned helmet—and even threw for a 40-yard completion. “He did nice,” Stafford mentioned, establishing the punchline, “each catching and throwing.”
Hope that Von Miller can do Von Miller issues, nonetheless, now, after arriving through mid-season commerce, his affect rising with each recreation. Sure, the Rams boast two of the perfect defensive gamers within the league in Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey. However add in Miller (six tackles, three for losses, one sack Monday) and Leonard Floyd, and it’s so much simpler to beat security Jordan Fuller’s season-ending ankle harm, or security Taylor Rapp lacking Monday whereas in concussion protocol.
So right here they had been, the Rams, a presumed favourite turned wobbly contender turned, nicely, we’ll see. After all of the trades, and all of the signings, and all the varied maneuvering that long-established the Rams roster into one of the vital proficient in professional soccer, Monday evening, for these within the Nemo Suite and past, served as a reminder of what’s doable. Possible? No. However doable. The Rams will journey to Tampa subsequent week, to tackle Tom Brady and the Bucs. The highest-seeded Packers loom as a possible convention championship opponent. However after the Rams restricted quarterback Kyler Murray to 137 passing yards, after they snagged two interceptions, after Stafford restricted errors and the protection scored and a wideout accomplished a go, there have been causes to imagine. Kupp, in fact, chief amongst them.
Within the Nemo Suite, as Kupp’s grandparents celebrated the defensive Decide-Six with a protracted embrace, a 50-yard-line smooch and a collection of fist pumps, it appeared doable. Something. Every part. A deeper playoff run. An upset in Tampa. A miracle victory from the 49ers subsequent week in Inexperienced Bay. A residence convention championship recreation—identical suite, identical seats, a sure wideout’s beard nonetheless gloriously untrimmed.
By the point Kupp scored (one more) landing early into the third quarter, the Rams led, 28–0, and the occasion at SoFi Stadium kicked into overdrive. Kupp completed with a modest (by his requirements) 5 receptions for 61 yards and that rating. However the consideration he drew, the decoy he grew to become, and the way in which the offense functioned in opposition to a scheme the Rams will possible see once more—all positives, all wins, all sufficient to look ahead and a minimum of think about what might occur over the following month. “An enormous problem,” Stafford mentioned, which is true however not debilitating, not after Monday evening.
There’s no cause to learn too deeply into one playoff win, in opposition to a struggling opponent absent its finest receiver (DeAndre Hopkins), on the highway. However that is Stafford’s 13th NFL season, and Monday evening marked his first—his very first!— postseason victory. It’s arduous to win playoff video games within the NFL, which implies there’s additionally little cause to decrease the Rams’ probabilities, not after what these crowded within the Nemo Suite had been discovering. And never after a best-case-scenario begin to enjoying the sport that issues most in SoFi Stadium, the one with roman numerals, scheduled for Feb. 13.
Extra NFL Protection:
• Jerry Jones Has Selections to Make About His Teaching Employees
• Jimmy Garoppolo Simply Might Be the Finest Quarterback Obtainable This Offseason
• Analyzing Kellen Moore and Mike McCarthy’s Controversial Quarterback Draw
• Wild-Card Takeaways: Overwhelming Rams, Cardinals Collapse Now Full