Sean McVay doesn't want to see a repeat of Week 18 on Sunday when the Los Angeles Rams host the 49ers in the NFC Championship Game at SoFi Stadium.
McVay said he and the Rams were "caught off guard" by the number of 49ers fans in attendance during San Francisco's comeback win in the regular-season finale, and the Rams coach would prefer it if that doesn't happen again Sunday with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line.
“I tell you what, what a great opportunity that we have to be able to put together a great week of preparation so that we can have something that the fans can be proud of," McVay told reporters Monday. "And to be able to play at home, SoFi, Mr. Kroenke’s house that he built, an NFC Championship.
"Couldn’t be more appreciative of the support we felt from our fans throughout the whole year. I thought the Monday night atmosphere was electric and looking to create something (similar) – and even that much more – for the NFC Championship. Really grateful for those Rams fans. Hold onto those tickets, and it’ll be much appreciated. But our guys are looking forward to putting on a good show against a great opponent. Can’t wait to be able to do it and don’t sell those tickets!”
The Faithful took over SoFi Stadium in Week 18, taking away the Rams' home-field advantage and giving the 49ers a boost in a game Kyle Shanahan's team had to win to make the playoffs.
Los Angeles jumped out to a 17-0 lead in that game, but the 49ers battled back to stun the Rams 27-24 in overtime.
Two weeks later, the 49ers have gone on the road and upset both the Dallas Cowboys and top-seeded Green Bay Packers, and now return to their home away from home with eyes on a Super Bowl berth.
"What catches you off guard is, they do a great job traveling," McVay said. "They got a really loyal fan base. They've got a great tradition and history, and it's a short trip. So, credit to them. They made it difficult wherein a lot of instances, you're kind of absent of your verbal communication. If they get as loud as they were when our offense was on the field — in certain parts of the field, it was really noisy. It was really difficult to operate. And so, you almost have to handle that situation like you would an away game."
McVay is confident Rams fans won't sell their tickets to make a quick buck and will show up Sunday just as they did for LA's wild-card win over the Arizona Cardinals.
“I’m really hopeful and would be grateful for these Rams fans to show up,” McVay said. “I thought the atmosphere on Monday Night Football, in the first playoff game ever on Monday Night Football, against the Cardinals was electric. It majorly gave us an advantage and our players a big boost. Looking forward to the same thing on Sunday afternoon for the NFC Championship. Our fans will be really proud of the way that these guys will come out and compete. I am looking forward to feeling their support because they’re a big factor for us – just like they were against Arizona. I feel confident they will be this Sunday.”
The Rams initially tried to restrict the purchase of tickets to those whose zip codes are in the Greater Los Angeles area but have since removed the restriction.
Either way, expect The Faithful to once again cover SoFi in a blanket of red Sunday. In a game in which both teams know each other well, taking away the Rams' home-field advantage could be the difference between advancing to the Super Bowl and seeing their season end in Southern California.