Super Bowl-bound Los Angeles Rams loaded with local talent
The state of Oregon will be well represented by the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LIII in Atlanta on Feb. 3.
The Rams won the NFC Championship game today by defeating New Orleans, 26-23 in overtime and they did so with the help of several players with ties to the state of Oregon. In fact, the Rams have by far the most players from the state in the NFL with seven.
The Rams will face the New England Patriots, who won the AFC Championship game, 37-31 in overtime at Kansas City. Local players from the Patriots are safety Patrick Chung out of Oregon and punter Ryan Allen out of West Salem High School.
Here is a rundown of all seven Rams players and their contributions to today's win on the season.
WR Brandin Cooks, Oregon State
Cooks caught seven passes for 107 yards at New Orleans on Sunday, proving to be quarterback Jared Goff's most reliable target.
On the season, Cooks caught 80 passes for 1,204 yards and five touchdowns. It was his fourth season with 1,000 yards or more since entering the league in 2014 as a first-round pick by the Saints, who traded him to New England in 2017. Cooks went to the Super Bowl last year with the Patriots but suffered a concussion early in the game and never returned.
Through five seasons, Cooks has caught 360 passes for 5,147 yards and 32 touchdowns.
Punter Johnny Hekker, Oregon State
Hekker (left in photo) punted four times for an average of 45.8 yards. But his biggest moment came on a fake punt when he completed a 12-yard pass to extend a drive.
The play occurred in the second quarter on a fourth down with five yards to go from the Rams 30. Hekker took the punt snap and immediately threw right to wide open cornerback Sam Shields for the first down. The drive ended with a 36-yard field goal by kicker Greg Luerlein to make the score 13-3, Saints.
Hekker, a four-time Pro Bowler, holds on field goals for Luerlein, who made four on the day including the game-winner from 57 yards out in overtime.
DT Ndamukong Suh, Grant High School
The former first-round pick out of Nebraska who played at Portland's Grant High School joined the Rams this season and came up big in the NFC Championship game.
Suh had four tackles, two solo, and 1 1/2 sacks with a tackle for loss and two quarterback hurries.
Suh, in his ninth season, spent the first six years of his career with Detroit, which drafted him out of Nebraska, and eh spent the previous three season with Miami before joining the Rams.
He made all 16 starts this season and finished with 59 tackles and 4 1/2 sacks.
OLB Samson Ebukam, David Douglas High School
Ebukam, out of Eastern Washington, had three tackles, two solo, against the Saints and forced a fumble in the second quarter that went out of bounds allowing New Orleans to retain possession.
Ebukam, who did not start on Sunday, made 14 starts during the regular season and finished with 40 tackles, three sacks, three forced fumbles and an interception he returned for a touchdown during a win over Kansas City during a Monday Night game.
Ebukam went virtually unrecruited out of David Douglas in Portland before ultimately landing at Eastern Washington. There he played his way into becoming a fourth-round pick of the Rams in 2017.
CB Troy Hill, Oregon
Hill made seven starts during the regular season but did not start or record a statistic on Sunday. During the regular season he had 35 tackles and five passes defended.
Hill, who started most of his four years at Oregon, went undrafted in 2015 before landing with Cincinnati as a rookie. He's spent the past three seasons with the Rams making 14 starts in 40 appearances.
TE Johnny Mundt, Oregon
Mundt was active for Sunday's game as a special teams player but did not record a statistic. He appeared in 10 games during the regular season and caught one pass for five yards.
Mundt made the team in 2017 as an undrafted rookie free agent out of Oregon where he played four seasons with the Ducks.
QB Sean Mannion, Oregon State
Backup quarterback Sean Mannion did not play in the NFC Championship game as the backup to starter Jared Goff.
Mannion has spent his entire four-year NFL career with the Rams, who selected him in the third round of the 2015 NFL Draft while still in St. Louis.
Mannion appeared in three games this season completing two of three pass attempts for 23 yards.