Kupp voted Super Bowl MVP

Published 10:46 pm Sunday, February 13, 2022

INGLEWOOD, Calif. (AP) — Cooper Kupp was helpless when the Los Angeles Rams went to the Super Bowl three years ago, only able to watch after tearing a knee ligament earlier in the season.

Kupp nearly did it all on the final drive of the Rams’ return trip to the title game, capping off his Triple Crown receiving season in fitting fashion with a Super Bowl MVP award.

Kupp beat Eli Apple for the back-shoulder 1-yard touchdown catch with 1:25 remaining to give the Rams their first Super Bowl title ever in Los Angeles with a 23-20 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday.

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The Rams put together the game-winning drive after barely being able to move the ball in their first seven drives after Kupp’s running mate Odell Beckham Jr. went down with a knee injury. That allowed the Bengals to focus their coverage on Kupp and help slow him down, but the Rams didn’t care when the game was on the line.

Kupp caught four passes for 39 yards on the game-winning drive, converted a third-and-1 with a 7-yard run and drew three penalties near the goal line to set the stage for his game-winning catch. It was a fitting end to one of the greatest seasons and postseason runs ever for a wide receiver.

Kupp joined Jerry Rice (1990), Sterling Sharpe (1992) and Steve Smith (2005) as the only players since the merger to lead the NFL in receptions, yards receiving and receiving yards in the same season when he had 145 catches for 1,947 yards and 16 touchdowns to win the AP Offensive Player of the Year.

The performance in the Super Bowl was just as good when he had eight catches for 92 yards and the two TDs to go along with his key run. About the only thing Kupp didn’t do came when he missed quarterback Matthew Stafford on a pass on a trick play in the second half.

It’s quite a ride for someone who played his college ball at lower-level Eastern Washington before coming into the NFL as a third-round pick in 2017. He made an instant impact as the Rams’ reliable slot receiver. His injury midway through the 2018 season left him a spectator for the Rams’ 13-3 loss to the New England Patriots in their previous Super Bowl trip.

Kupp did it all during this playoff run, setting an NFL record with 33 catches and trailing only Larry Fitzgerald’s remarkable 2008 playoffs (30 catches for 546 yards and seven TDs) with his 478 yards and six TDs in four games.

While Fitzgerald’s magical run ended in defeat after the Steelers rallied for the winning score following his go-ahead catch, the Rams defense made Kupp’s catch stand up and he collapsed to the turf in joy before getting the MVP trophy as his reward.