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Halas Intrigue Bears Report: Lessons from the Super Bowl

Halas Intrigue Bears Report
The Bears organization once thought they and the Rams were on the same championship path. But while Los Angeles was lifting the Vince Lombardi Trophy after beating the Bengals 23-20 in Super Bowl LVI, the Bears are again starting over. Read the latest coverage and analysis below.

1. The Closer
The biggest sack of Aaron Donald’s career wasn’t a sack at all.
The Bengals lined up at the Rams’ 49-yard line trailing by three with 43 seconds to play in Sunday’s Super Bowl at SoFi Stadium. Cincinnati had a receiver split to either side, a tight end in the left slot and a running back to the left of quarterback Joe Burrow.
They’d just failed to run for a first down — Donald stopped Samaje Perine’s momentum on third-and-1 — so the Bengals took a timeout and drew up a fourth-down pass play.
Donald — the best defensive player on the planet playing perhaps the last down of his career — lined up across from Bengals left guard Quinton Spain, chopped down on his arm and sprinted around his left. It took 2.2 seconds before Donald had both arms around Burrow, spinning him counterclockwise. After one full rotation, Burrow, looking like a rodeo rider, flung the ball forward incomplete.
The Rams, in their home stadium, had won the Super Bowl 23-20.
Donald had clinched it — the way he should. He finished the night with two sacks for 10 yards, two tackles for loss and three quarterback hurries.
“You gotta be relentless,” he said. “You want something bad enough, you gotta go get it.”
Other teams have tried to get their own version of him, but Donald has been a unique figure on the NFL landscape since the Rams drafted him 13th overall in 2014. He’s what the Bears thought they were getting when they traded for Khalil Mack in 2018.
“When it was a fourth down and you could see they got into the shotgun and they were probably not gonna run the football, I said, ‘Aaron’s gonna close the game out right here,’” Rams coach Sean McVay said.
Aaron Donald gave the Rams what the Bears thought they’d get from Khalil Mack
2. Divergent paths
When a team is as loaded as the Rams are, there’s substantial margin for misfortune. Their wealth of talent put them beyond the pressure of needing everything to go right to beat the Bengals on Sunday in the Super Bowl.
So even with quarterback Matthew Stafford looking like the Lions version of himself for most of the game, star receiver Odell Beckham Jr. exiting early with a knee injury and the running game dissolving, the Rams had enough to win 23-20 at SoFi Stadium for their first championship since moving back to the Los Angeles area.
Three years ago, after both teams lost in the playoffs, the Bears thought they and the Rams were at the start of an enduring rivalry in which they regularly would be battling for a spot in the Super Bowl. But while the Bears veered into various missteps at critical spots (quarterback, head coach, receiver and pass rush), the Rams checked every one of those boxes.
That’s why they’re here, waving around the Lombardi Trophy that has eluded the Bears for almost four decades. A string of great moves added up to this.
‘‘It’s a lot of good decisions stacked on one another, but I also think it’s a lot of mentally tough, special people finding a way to be at their best in those critical moments,’’ McVay said. ‘‘In a lot of instances, we have been the better team going into games, [but] how you play dictates whether you win. I’m just really pleased to be associated with a group that is not afraid to shoot their shot.’’
Loaded Rams outduel resilient Joe Burrow, Bengals 23-20
3. A blueprint for Arlington Heights?
In a league defined by its over-the-top ventures, SoFi Stadium is unlike any project the NFL has ever undertaken. Returning the NFL to Los Angeles — the Rams came from St. Louis and the Chargers from San Diego — took a venture bold, innovative and expensive. At a cost of $5.5 billion, paid for by Rams owner and real estate developer Stan Kroenke, the 70,240-seat stadium is attached to a 6,000-seat theater by a plaza, all underneath the sweeping roof.
The stadium sits on a 298-acre plot, complete with a lake and landscaping designed to represent all of California, from pine trees to chaparral. The NFL Network’s West Coast offices sit in a 450,000 square foot building across a parking lot. By the time construction is completed — it’s about 65% done — developers will have at least that much retail space, plus room for 2,500 residences and 25 acres of public parkland. The office building district alone could one day be 5 million square feet.
“We have created Southern California’s first indoor-outdoor mega experience,” said Jason Gannon, SoFI Stadium’s managing director.
Sometime in the next decade, the Chicago area could do the same.
After LA's successful Super Bowl, Bears eye new stadium of their own
4. In other news
5. From the podcast
Patrick Finley and Jason Lieser break down what they saw at the Super Bowl and what the Bears can learn from it. LISTEN HERE.
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