Former colleagues Sean McVay, Zac Taylor set to square off in Super Bowl
Sean McVay won’t be the only wunderkind in the Super Bowl this time around.
Three years after squaring off against a legendary head coach 33 years his senior, the 36-year-old McVay led the Rams back to the Promised Land, where he will match wits in Super Bowl 2022 against the Bengals’ Zac Taylor in a game made for some “Fabulous Under-40” list.
The 38-year-old Taylor, who was the Rams quarterbacks coach under McVay when they lost Super Bowl LIII to Bill Belichick’s Patriots, steered the Bengals to an 18-point comeback and overtime upset of the Chiefs on Sunday in the AFC Championship game. About three hours later, McVay’s Rams completed a 10-point fourth-quarter comeback to halt a six-game losing streak against the 49ers in the NFC Championship game.
“So happy for Zac Taylor and the Bengals — what a tough, resilient group they are. We have some more work to do,” McVay said. “You look at the start of that [Bengals-Chiefs] game, it didn’t look good for them. They’ve just continued to show why they are a mentally tough outfit. I think that’s reflected by their head coach. I know what a great coach he is.”
Need another way that youth is served in this unlikely Rams-Bengals matchup? Joe Burrow, 25, could join Joe Montana, Russell Wilson, Tom Brady, Patrick Mahomes and Ben Roethlisberger as the only starting quarterbacks to win a Super Bowl at age 25 or younger.
There will be some veterans with something to say about it, however.
Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford, who turns 34 on Feb. 7, is trying to make up for 12 lost seasons with the Lions. The Rams have adopted a win-it-for-Aaron Donald mentality, even though he is only 30. And Von Miller, 32, is chasing a second ring after the lean years that followed his Super Bowl 50 MVP performance for the Broncos.
“It’s just like having a second kid,” Miller said. “You love the first one. When you have another, you love the second kid, too. But they are both totally different. You want to separate the two. Some of the special things we did that year I try to apply to this team.”
It’s the fourth Super Bowl appearance for the Rams (winners in 2000) and the third for the Bengals, who lost twice to the 49ers in the 1980s. The slightly favored Rams will try to become the second straight Super Bowl winner celebrating in its home stadium — the Buccaneers won in Tampa Bay last February — after the host city failed to send a team in each of the first 54 Super Bowls.
“It’s great that it’s here, but if we’re playing in it I don’t have a sh– where it is,” Stafford said. “I just want to play in the dang thing.”