LOS ANGELES – It’s a challenge to make it to the Super Bowl and even more unlikely that a team has the opportunity to play the big game in its own stadium.
Yet Sunday when the Rams take on the Cincinnati Bengals at SoFi Stadium In Inglewood, California, it will happen again, making it back to back years for the first time in the game’s history.
“It’s a blessing to be able to be at home,” Rams coach Sean McVay said after the NFC Championship game. “But you want to make sure the magnitude of the game, even when playing in our stadium and home city, It does not take away from finishing the task at hand of trying to win one more game.”
The Arizona Cardinals hope the phrase “all good things come in threes” stays true as State Farm Stadium will house the 2023 Super Bowl. The Cardinals may be using that fact as motivation for next season.
Even Gov. Doug Ducey is aware of the circumstances, noting at a recent Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee press conference that “our Arizona Cardinals have a real shot to play at home next year.”
Teams are paying attention.
“We saw Tampa Bay last year do it,” Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford said. “I don’t want to really say it was extra motivation because we are as motivated as you can get every year to get it done. It’s so fun to be able to do it at SoFi but to tell you the truth, we can play this anywhere and if I was in it, I would be all in. The comfort of being at home is nice.”
Being at home brings an obvious advantage: fans. Last year was unique because of the pandemic. Attendance was limited to 25,000 fans, and 7,500 of them were healthcare workers. The rest of the stadium was filled with 30,000 cutouts.
It’s different this year as SoFi will have no restrictions for its 70,000 capacity stadium. The Rams expect to enjoy a home field advantage.
“It’s a helpful thing for us and I will never apologize when we got great fans to support us,” McVay said. “Our players love that. It brings good energy and juice and we look forward to having that.”
The Bengals, who are technically the home team, remain indifferent about playing the Rams in SoFi and expect their fans to travel well.
“The advantage will go to whoever has the most fans,” Bengals wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase said. “So, if we have more fans I feel we will have the advantage.”
All that is left now is the game. The Rams look to make it 2 for 2 for teams winning the Super Bowl in their stadium.
There is no doubt Cardinals players, coaches and fans will have next season in the back of their minds as they watch this Super Bowl.