7 Greatest Moments in Los Angeles Rams’ History
The Super Bowl LIII weekend is almost upon us and the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta beckons the New England Patriots and the Los Angeles Rams. Football fans all around the world will hold their collective breath this Sunday as the Patriots and the Rams go all in for the right to be known as the finest football team in the world.
The two teams will have the weight of expectations on their shoulders as well as illustrious histories to live up to. New stars of the game will be born and heroes will rise to the occasion as the Rams and the Patriots collide. The Patriots are back for their third Super Bowl in as many years while the giant-killing Rams will be making their first trip to the Super Bowl since 2001.
Back In the Big Time for the Rams
It has just been three years since the Rams returned to Los Angeles, having left the Entertainment Capital of the World for St. Louis in 1995. Moreover, it was way back in 1980 that the city of Los Angeles was last represented in the Super Bowl by the Rams. And they will be raring to go once again this Sunday.
Despite being three-time NFL champions, it was back in 1951 (before the AFL-NFL merger and the Super Bowl era) that the Rams were crowned champions while representing Los Angeles. They have won a Super Bowl since then, but that was in 1999 when they were based in St. Louis. So, the Rams will feel that they have a point to prove this Sunday.
With the Rams returning to the big time once again we decided to take a look at the 7 greatest moments, in no particular order, in Los Angeles Rams’ history.
A Broken Leg Isn’t Enough to Break the Spirit of Jack Youngblood (1980)
One is reminded of a Kurt Russell dialogue from the 2004 movie “Miracle.” Playing the role of legendary American hockey coach Herb Brooks, Russell tells one of his injured players to shrug off a bad bruise and play. “A bruise on the leg is a hell of a long way from the heart,” are the words used by Russell in the movie.
While LA Rams defensive end Jack Youngblood had a lot more than a bruised leg going into the 1980 Super Bowl, his spirit exemplified that same heart that Herb Brooks talked about. The 1979-80 LA Rams team is often talked about as being an extremely resilient bunch and Youngblood personified that better than any other player on the roster.
He is rumored to have asked the Rams trainer to tape up his broken leg because he can’t miss the big game. The Rams would ultimately lose to the Pittsburgh Steelers 31-19 but the incredible effort put in by Youngblood and co. has become one of the most inspiring sports stories of all time.
Bob Waterfield Leads One of the Greatest Comebacks (1952)
Bob Waterfield is often credited with turning the quarterback position into the glamorous one we know today. And Waterfield had quite a glamorous game in 1952 at the Marquette Stadium against the Green Bay Packers. He was described by teammate Elroy Hirsch as the toughest individual to ever walk into a huddle. With the Rams trailing by 22 points in the fourth quarter, Waterfield had to summon every ounce of grit and determination in his soul to erase that deficit and eventually help his team run out as the winners, 30-28.
Flipper Anderson’s Game-Clinching Touchdown (1990)
Willie “Flipper” Anderson had already set a receiving record for most yards in a single game just two months prior to this encounter against the New York Giants. However, this play is not remembered for any new record. This catch for the game-winning touchdown against the Giants in the 1990 NFC Divisional Playoffs was just something else altogether.
With the game going into overtime, Anderson completed the touchdown and continued his run beyond the goal line and headed off the field straight through the players’ entrance tunnel. Perhaps he went straight into the Rams dressing room but some say he ran all the way to Interstate 80.
Kenny Washington’s 92-Yard Run
Kenny Washington was a trailblazer when he signed for the Rams in 1946. Breaking the NFL’s infamous ban that prevented players of color from playing the game at the highest level, Washington was approaching the twilight of his playing days. He was already well past his prime and had multiple knee surgeries before joining the Rams. But that did not stop him from showing his ability.
In a game against the Chicago Cardinals in November 1947, Washington broke into a 92-yard run which remains the team’s longest ever from a scrimmage. If it wasn’t for the ban on black players, Washington could have become one of the greatest ever to play the game. However, as it showed that day, Rams’ fans will forever wonder what might have been.
Greg Zuerlin’s Conference-Winning Field Goal (2019)
Still pretty fresh in memory, the 2019 NFC Championship Game threw in a major surprise. The Rams weren’t supposed to cause much trouble for the Kansas City Chiefs. But the Rams racked up another great result. Greg Zuerlin scored a 57-yard field goal in overtime to send his team to the Super Bowl. This was the longest game-winning kick in the history of the NFL playoffs and it forever cemented Zuerlin’s place in NFL folklore.
NFL Championship Game (1951)
During the NFL Championship Game against the Cleveland Browns in 1951, legendary Rams quarterback Norm Van Brocklin tossed the ball down the field to receiver Tom Fears who completed a 73-yard touchdown by splitting two Browns defenders. It secured a 24-17 upset win for the LA Rams. This was the first NFL Championship game to be televised around the country. Television networks had paid big money to secure the rights to air the game and viewers were treated to the free-flowing offense of the Rams. It proved that professional football didn’t always have to be harsh or brutal, it could be beautiful and glamorous too.
Super Bowl XXXIV Win (1999)
With this Super Bowl win, the Rams became the only franchise to become NFL champions representing three different cities, the other two wins coming in Cleveland (1945) and Los Angeles (1951). Both of those triumphs came in the pre-Super Bowl era, so this was their first Super Bowl win and it came in grand fashion.
Not much was expected of the Rams going into the season. In fact, there were even predictions from some quarters about the Rams being the worst NFL team that season. However, they surprised everyone with a 13-3 record in the regular season. Led by quarterback Kurt Warner, who started the season as back-up to Trent Green, the Rams dug deep during the playoffs and ultimately prevailed over the Tennessee Titans 23-16 in the Super Bowl.