1 of 5 | Los Angeles Rams coach Sean McVay said he took several lessons from his team's Super Bowl loss in 2019, which include enjoying the moment and not overpreparing. File Photo by Jon SooHoo/UPI | License Photo
LOS ANGELES, Feb. 9 (UPI) -- Los Angeles Rams coach Sean McVay says he'll take several lessons from his last Super Bowl loss into this week's preparation, while Rams players, aided by a home-field advantage, say a normal routine eases their focus.
McVay, renowned for his freakish memory of exact play calls from games years ago, will never forget the heartbreak he felt in his 2019 Super Bowl trip to Atlanta.
That night, his Rams lost 13-3 to Tom Brady's New England Patriots. McVay still takes responsibility for the setback, but gains possible redemption with this year's try for a Vince Lombardi Trophy.
"I'll never run away from the fact that I didn't do a good enough job for our team, with what I felt like my role and responsibility is to these guys." McVay said Monday in a virtual news conference.
McVay, 36, also can become the youngest coach in history to win a Super Bowl if his Rams beat the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday in Inglewood, Calif.
Also the youngest coach in the NFL, he says decision making, adjustability and how to approach two weeks of preparation -- instead of the typical one week between NFL games -- are key factors he will focus on this time around.
McVay also admitted that pressure and overpreparation played a role in his Rams' Super Bowl Bowl LIII loss. This time, he said he told himself to take time to enjoy the journey more and better balance his football studies.
One aspect that will help him enjoy the week is familiarity with the Super Bowl LVI venue and routines associated with that preparation.
The Rams won't need to fly players, coaches, families and friends to another city this week as they host the game at SoFi Stadium. They also get to use their normal practice facility, eat at familiar restaurants and sleep in their own beds.
"This time [in the Super Bowl], I feel like I'm able to stay on my normal routine," Rams All-Pro defensive tackle Aaron Donald said Monday. "We get extra work in the weight room, massages and film study.
"It's lot different than 2019. The first time, a lot was off. Studying film was different, trying to find someone to give me a massage was [difficult], but we are able to stay on our normal routine here at home. I've loved it. It feels like I can stay more focused. I'm ready."
Donald remains the team's best player, but is the only returning defensive starter from the 2018-19 roster who will play for the Rams in Super Bowl LVI.
Left tackle Andrew Whitworth, right tackle Rob Havenstein and tight end Tyler Higbee are the only offensive starters who suited up in 2019 and expected to start Super Bowl LVI.
Through that rapid three-year turnover, the Rams gained assets by adding All-Pros with Super Bowl and deep playoff run experience.
Unlike the Bengals, who built a roster mostly of young players, and maintain a generous amount of salary cap space, the Rams' front office mortgaged much of the team's future to win now.
The team used NFL Draft assets, made trades and splurged in free agency to acquire high-end playmakers.
In 2021, the Rams surrendered two first-round picks and a fourth-round pick for cornerback Jalen Ramsey.
In October, they traded two first-round picks, a third-round pick and Super Bowl LIII starting quarterback Jared Goff to the Detroit Lions in exchange for quarterback Matthew Stafford.
In November, they sent a second- and third-round pick to the Denver Broncos for pass-rusher Von Miller.
Fewer than two weeks later, they signed wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. They also traded away two draft picks last off-season to acquire running back Sony Michel.
"We've got great veteran leadership, which is why you see great players like Von Miller and Odell come in here," McVay said.
"They've made key contributions and were welcomed with open arms. They did a great job of being able to embrace our culture here and built on it."
Donald said he will remain with the Rams for as long as McVay is coach. The team's influx of elite talent and age of players at key positions means that the Los Angeles may have to move on soon from some of its stars.
The fact that the trades resulted in getting only a third-, fifth- and seventh-round pick in 2022 and not getting a first-round pick in 2023 also adds to the pressure of winning now.
"We've got a bunch of guys who have been here before and know what it's like to be at this point," Donald said. "We are going to do everything we can to win."
The Rams will battle the Bengals in Super Bowl LVI on Sunday in Los Angeles. The game will air at 6:30 p.m. EST on NBC. The Rams are favored by 4.5 points.
Visitors immerse themselves in the history of the NFL at an interactive exhibition at the Los Angeles Convention Center last weekend. The Los Angeles Rams and the Cincinnati Bengals will meet in Super Bowl 56 at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, Calif., on Sunday. Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo