Los Angeles Rams starting quarterback Matthew Stafford did his legacy a major favor on Sunday by leading his team to Super Bowl glory over Joe Burrow and the surging Cincinnati Bengals. Stafford completed 26-of-40 passing attempts for 283 yards, three touchdowns, and two interceptions. At times, Stafford was an electric and dynamic thrower of the football, looking defenders off and appropriately challenging tight windows. At others, he attempted ill-advised throws that hurt his offense. It largely and accurately depicted the rollercoaster that’s been his career, littered with both good and bad moments. Until the end. Most notably, Stafford led an 18-play, 72-yard game-winning drive with the game on the line. Stafford found MVP-winner Cooper Kupp in the end zone for the go-ahead score, and Aaron Donald and the Rams defense would quickly confirm the victory on Cincinnati's successive drive. It served as a career-defining moment for Stafford, who was often straddled with horrific squads throughout a 12-year stint with the lowly Detroit Lions. Prior to his stunning and blockbuster-worthy offseason arrival in Los Angeles, the 34-year-old signal-caller had only made three sporadic postseason appearances: 2011, 2014, and 2016. Stafford and the disappointing Lions went 0-3 in those crucial contests, and questions were often and deservingly raised regarding Stafford's ability to lead his team to postseason success. It's partially why Sunday's triumph (and the three-game run leading up to it) means so much to Stafford and his reputation as a quarterback, but it remains far too early to hail him as a future Hall of Famer. Discussions regarding Stafford's metaphorical place in Canton were almost immediately raised before the Rams could hoist the Lombardi trophy and soak in the moment. Those sympathies feel awfully premature at this point in the process. Capturing a Super Bowl is no small accomplishment, and the narrative surrounding Stafford and both his physical and mental capabilities must change for the better going forward. Stafford has proven more than adequate after leading his Rams to four consecutive crucial postseason victories, but continued success must first be achieved before we begin fitting Stafford for his Gold Jacket and designing his bust. A second Super Bowl title would almost undoubtedly make Stafford a shoo-in for Canton, and deservingly so, much as it will for Eli Manning and his pair of Super Bowl triumphs with the New York Giants once Manning becomes eligible for entry in 2025. Should Stafford and his Hollywood band of Rams be able to capture another Lombardi during his playing career, the argument changes from premature to settled. Stafford's Sunday accomplishment shall go down in history as an all-timer, but he must sustain this level of success before we grant him entry into Canton.
- Aug 17, 2022
- Aug 05, 2022