Stay clean. Avoid the critical mistakes. That’s a mantra both the Cincinnati Bengals and Los Angeles Rams should have adopted as they head to Sunday’s Super Bowl.
Limit the turnovers and costly penalties. Don’t waste timeouts, particularly in the second half. Get physical rather than fancy. Being efficient can trump being spectacular.
All they need to do is look back to the last time the Los Angeles area hosted a Super Bowl, nearly three decades ago.
That game at the Rose Bowl became an almost laughable rout as the Buffalo Bills kept surrendering the ball to the Dallas Cowboys.
“Just going to go out there and impose our will and play physical and let the chips fall where they may,” Bengals cornerback Eli Apple said.
Echoed Rams All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey: “Do our thing and do it the best we can. That’s winning football.”
Sure, the Super Bowl is America’s biggest sporting event; some would argue it is America’s biggest event of any kind.
In the end, it’s a football game. And most football games are won by the team that minimises miscues.
Avoiding costly mistakes
Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford needs 209 yards passing to become the sixth player to reach 6,000 in a single season but he also puts the ball up for grabs at times.
That needs to be limited on Sunday.
“What he’s done, he’s elevated everybody around him. He’s made me a better coach. He’s made his teammates better,” Rams coach Sean McVay said of Stafford.
So has the guy on the other side, Joe Burrow — who has gone from No.1 overall pick to starting quarterback in the Super Bowl faster than anyone else.
He has 15 touchdown passes and just two interceptions in his past seven games. Rarely has Burrow gambled in the last two months, and that has paid off handsomely.
While the Rams defensive unit led by tackle Aaron Donald and other top pass rushers Von Miller and Leonard Floyd is special the kicking games of both teams could play a pivotal role.
Same for the coaches: McVay, who is accustomed to the glaring spotlight after taking the Rams to the playoffs in four of his five seasons, and Zac Taylor, his former assistant, in his first post-season as a head man.
As difficult as it may be it’s about treating the Super Bowl as just another game.
“You got a job to go out there and execute and try to lead your team,” Stafford said.
“The game begins, and it’s football. That’s what we’re here for.”