Sean McVay’s first trip to the Super Bowl ended in disappointment. His Los Angeles Rams featured one of the best offenses in the league during the 2018 season, but the team and its head coach were unable to crack the code versus the New England Patriots when the championship was on the line.
With the Patriots delivering one of the best defensive performances in Super Bowl history, and their Tom Brady-led offense coming through in the clutch, the Rams suffered a 13-3 defeat. New England, meanwhile, celebrated its sixth Super Bowl win.
Three years after that loss, McVay will return to the game’s biggest stage. Now with some experience under his belt, he wants to learn from the mistakes made in 2019.
“I think what you do to get over it is you look at yourself in the mirror, you take accountability and you keep it moving,” he said on Super Bowl media night earlier this week. “I think as a competitor, you have to be able to handle those tough moments, and I’ll never run away from the fact that I didn’t do a good enough job for our team within what I feel like my role and responsibility is to these guys.”
McVay and the Rams attempted to establish their wide zone running game against the Patriots, but were unable to do that versus the 6-1 “Tilt” fronts employed by New England. Their offense struggled as a result, and McVay and his staff failed to come up with effective counters — negating a strong effort by the L.A. defense.
Against the Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl LVI on Sunday, he will need to be more flexible and take advantage of the things he learned versus New England.
“I think you say, ‘OK, if you had it differently, what are the things that you learn as far as the decision-making, the adjustability, the ability to be totally in the moment during the game and be able to make those adjustments quicker than what we were able to do and how you approach the two weeks of preparation?’” McVay said.
“But whether it was a game like that or whether it was a game from a couple weeks ago, you’re always trying to learn. You’re always trying to evolve, and I think you want to be able to learn from previous experiences but not allow it to inhibit your ability to be able to move forward.”
Despite the loss to the Patriots in Super Bowl LIII, McVay still has positive thoughts about the experience.
“I think it was a blessing to be in that game,” he said. “Certainly, you don’t forget about it. You want to be able to do better. But I don’t think you press when you do get another opportunity to be in this moment and this stage again. I think you look at it as a blessing, you take some of those learning lessons, you apply them, and let’s go cut it loose and play to the best of our ability, and I’ll coach to the best of my ability with our coaches, as well.”
The Rams entered this year’s playoffs as just the fourth seed in the NFC, but were able to reach their second Super Bowl in the last four seasons by winning beating Arizona, Tampa Bay — Tom Brady’s new team and the reigning champs — and finally the San Francisco 49ers. As a result, they will become the second straight team to host the title game in its own stadium.
Super Bowl LVI versus the AFC champion Bengals will be kicked off at 6:30 p.m. ET at Los Angeles’ SoFi Stadium.