INGLEWOOD, Calif. (AP) — After Matthew Stafford’s wife leaped into his arms, he took a moment to soak it all in — this victory, this confetti-strewn field, this remarkable year of his life.
One year to the day after the quarterback agreed to join the star-studded Los Angeles Rams for a shot at a ring, their chances were dimming rapidly when they headed into the fourth quarter of the NFC championship game down by double digits to the mighty San Francisco 49ers.
But with three gritty scoring drives followed by a cathartic defensive stand, the Rams secured the right to stay home for the Super Bowl — and Stafford shone the brightest in this impressive constellation.
Travin Howard made a game-sealing interception with 1:09 to play, and the Rams roared back in the fourth quarter to secure a spot in the Super Bowl at their home stadium next month with a thrilling 20-17 victory Sunday night.
“You can’t write the story any better,” Stafford said. “I’m at a loss for words. I’m just having a blast playing ball with these guys and, shoot, we’ve got one more at the home stadium. Let’s get it done.”
Los Angeles will welcome the Cincinnati Bengals in two weeks for Super Bowl 56 in Rams owner Stan Kroenke’s multibillion-dollar SoFi Stadium.
Stafford passed for 337 yards and hit Cooper Kupp with two touchdown passes for the Rams (15-5), who began the fourth quarter down 17-7. But after Kupp’s second TD catch and a tying field goal on a drive extended by Jaquiski Tartt’s brutal dropped interception, the Rams drove for Matt Gay’s go-ahead, 30-yard field goal with 1:46 to play.
Los Angeles’ defense then won it when Aaron Donald got hold of Jimmy Garoppolo and forced him to fling a pass toward JaMycal Hasty. The ball caromed high in the air off Hasty’s hands and came straight down to Howard — and it was secured by the fourth-year pro who only recently got a prominent role on LA’s defense.
“I’ve got total trust and confidence in that defense, man,” said Stafford, the 13-year veteran who never won a playoff game before this month. “They’ve been unbelievable all year. Way to freakin’ ice the game. I loved it.”
Kupp finished with 11 catches for 142 yards in his latest spectacular game, while Odell Beckham Jr. punched his ticket to his first Super Bowl with yet another strong performance by Los Angeles’ midseason acquisition, making nine catches for 113 yards.
“The story could not be written any better for us to play them in the NFC championship and then shut the door,” Beckham said of the 49ers.
The Rams won their second conference title in the past four years under coach Sean McVay and moved one step from the franchise’s second championship in the Super Bowl era.
Perhaps even more impressively, Los Angeles finally snapped a six-game losing streak against its San Francisco archrivals, who secured their playoff berth with an overtime comeback victory in Inglewood just three weeks ago.
“I think we knew what a great team this was, but our guys genuinely knew that what happened in the previous six games had nothing to do with what was going to happen when we kicked this one off,” McVay said.
The Rams have only won twice when trailing by double digits in the second half during McVay’s half-decade in charge — and both victories were in conference championship games.
Deebo Samuel and George Kittle caught touchdown passes from Garoppolo, who passed for 232 yards in a heartbreaker for the 49ers (12-8). While San Francisco’s defense faltered late, coach Kyle Shanahan also punted twice from the Rams’ half of the field and a third time from the 50, and that caution likely ended up costing the Niners.
“I thought we had them on the ropes, but we gave them a chance,” Shanahan said. “When you give those guys too many chances, eventually they are going to make them.”
San Francisco also will lament its late-game execution, but no mistake was bigger than the dropped interception by Tartt, who could have put the Rams in dire straits moments after McVay wasted his final timeout on a failed challenge early in the fourth quarter.
“I felt confident the entire game,” Kittle said. “Felt we were calm. They just made real good play. The Rams have superstars all over the field.”
Those stars started slowly: Stafford threw a tipped end-zone interception on the Rams’ second drive, and the Niners answered a subsequent 97-yard LA scoring drive with yet another moment of brilliance from Samuel. The All-Pro caught an inside screen pass and rampaged through the Los Angeles defense, diving to the pylon for his first career postseason scoring catch.
The Rams appeared to be in real trouble when San Francisco’s defense stopped them on downs near midfield in the third quarter and Garoppolo hit Kittle for his second TD pass moments later. But Los Angeles kept it close with a gritty drive ending in Kupp’s 11-yard TD catch early in the fourth quarter.
BOWLING AT HOME
After 54 consecutive Super Bowls without an NFL team playing in its home stadium, the Rams are the second team to do it in two seasons after Tampa Bay broke the streak last year.
FUN WITH FLAGS
McVay unsuccessfully challenged two calls in the second half, failing to overturn a fourth-down spot for his offense or a potential Niners fumble. The decisions — and another wasted timeout before a first-down play — left Los Angeles with no timeouts and 10:01 to play.
49ers: LB Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles hurt his knee in the first half and didn’t return. … LB Dre Greenlaw injured his calf in the first half. … DE Arden Key was evaluated for a head injury at halftime.
Rams; TE Tyler Higbee injured his knee in the first half and didn’t return. … RB Cam Akers (shoulder) and WR Van Jefferson (knee) missed time in the first half, but returned.
49ers: The season is over. San Francisco made five NFC title games in the past 11 years, but won no rings.
Rams: A showdown with Joe Burrow and the impressive Bengals on Feb. 13 in the Super Bowl with two starting quarterbacks who were both No. 1 overall picks. The other came six years ago when Peyton Manning faced Cam Newton.
GRAMMY Museum® Grant Program Awards $200,000 for Music Research and Sound Preservation
LOS ANGELES — The GRAMMY Museum® Grant Program announced today that $200,000 in grants will be awarded to 16 recipients in the United States to help facilitate a range of research on a variety of subjects, as well as support a number of archiving and preservation programs.
“This year marks the 35th year that the GRAMMY Museum and Recording Academy® have partnered to provide much deserved funding for music research and preservation projects across the United States and Canada. During that time, we have awarded more than $8.1 million to nearly 465 grantees,” said Michael Sticka, President/CEO of the GRAMMY Museum. “As an educational and cultural nonprofit institution, we know firsthand how critical grant funding is in order to deliver measurable results and impact through our mission. This is why we’re proud to support these impressive projects that are at the intersection of music and science, and work to maintain our shared musical legacy for generations to come.”
Generously funded by the Recording Academy, the GRAMMY Museum Grant Program provides funding annually to organizations and individuals to support efforts that advance the archiving and preservation of the recorded sound heritage of the Americas for future generations, in addition to research projects related to the impact of music on the human condition. In 2008, the GRAMMY Museum Grant Program expanded its categories to include assistance grants for individuals and small to mid-sized organizations to aid collections held by individuals and organizations that may not have access to the expertise needed to create a preservation plan. The assistance planning process, which may include inventorying and stabilizing a collection, articulates the steps to be taken to ultimately archive recorded sound materials for future generations.
More information about the program can be found at www.grammymuseum.org.
Scientific Research Grantees
University of Southern California— Los Angeles
Nostalgia-evoking music can temporarily improve autobiographical memory in individuals with Alzheimer’s Disease (AD), but the associated neural mechanisms are unknown. This project aims to use personalized music to identify neural systems involved in music-evoked nostalgia using fMRI, in healthy younger and older adults. Findings will be the basis for music-based AD interventions by demonstrating how music-evoked nostalgia is preserved neurally across the lifespan.
University Hospitals Health System, Inc — Cleveland
The purpose of this study is to determine the feasibility and acceptability of: 1) a tailored music-assisted relaxation and imagery intervention; 2) biological sample collection; and 3) mobile device patient-reported outcome collection in adults hospitalized for pancreatic surgery experiencing acute pain.
Towson University — Towson, Maryland
This project will help to determine whether “hidden hearing loss” exists in student musicians and, if so, to use clinically relevant diagnostic tools to detect the disorder early so that music-induced overt hearing loss can be prevented. The project will also assess whether the hidden hearing deficits contribute to increased difficulties in auditory scene analysis/speech sound processing in musicians.
Texas Christian University — Fort Worth, Texas
Musical training is associated with increased neural prediction response to a critical note that indicates mode in a melody. This neural response suggests an enhanced prediction mechanism in those with musical training and may reflect acquired sensitivity to statistical regularities in the environment. The goal of this project is to investigate whether musical training is also associated with enhanced neural prediction responses in those with dyslexia, who may have deficits in prediction.
Stanford University — Stanford, California
This project evaluates different strategies to promote empathy between audio engineers and cochlear-implant users empathy-promotion. The goal is to understand the existing empathy structures, identify the most effective promotion strategies, and develop tools and clear techniques to assist both cochlear implant users and audio engineers in creating music that can be enjoyed by a more diverse audience.
University of Miami— Coral Gables, Florida
This innovative project will explore the use of infant-directed singing (IDS) for self-regulation in infants with prenatal drug exposure. These infants may be at risk for poor self-regulation, leading to difficulty managing arousal and emotions. Through a coaching intervention, mothers will learn how to use IDS to match or modify infant state. Findings will inform clinical practice to improve parenting skills in mothers with substance use issues.
Preservation Assistance Grantees
Bill Doggett — Bakersfield, California
Bill Doggett will conduct a professional inventory and preservation needs assessment for the Doggett Race & Performing Arts Collection. Under this project, an archival consultant with expertise in audiovisual archives and preservation management will conduct a site visit and physical inspection of the Collection and prepare a Preservation Plan for future action.
T. Christopher Aplin — Pasadena, California
American Indian Soundchiefs was a Kiowa-owned record label owned by Linn D. Pauahty – the earliest, longest-running such label launched with an ear toward Indigenous aesthetics. This project will help Mary Helen Deer, the Linn D. Pauahty Foundation and Kiowa Tribe review existing Soundchiefs record catalogues; compile and inventory instantaneous disc, 78s, reel-to-reel, and cassettes; and prepare these recordings for future digitization and preservation.
The Kealakai Center for Pacific Strings — Kailua, Hawaii
The Kealakai Center for Pacific Strings will synthesize a decade of primary data collection, interviews, research, and exhibit production to develop a digital museum and audio archive designed to share the largest untold chapter in the history of modern American music. The website and archive will illuminate the pivotal role that Hawaiian music has played in the evolution of popular music, a legacy of innovation, and global influence that endures today.
Arhoolie Foundation — El Cerrito, California
The Arhoolie Foundation will digitize Chris Strachwitz rare recordings of performances, festivals and concerts from 1950-2000. Artists include Lightnin’ Hopkins, Big Mama Thornton, Mississippi Fred McDowell, Flaco Jiménez, Ry Cooder, Lydia Mendoza, BeauSoleil, Clifton Chenier, Rev Gary Davis, Mance Lipscomb, Jesse Fuller, Rose Maddox, and others.
The Apollo Theater — New York
This funding will allow Harlem’s historic Apollo Theater to digitize, preserve and catalog more than 300 hours of video recordings of the theater’s famed Amateur Night program, spanning 1987-2016. These performances exist on obsolete, vulnerable media formats, and have mostly remained unseen since the time of their original recording. Amateur Night has launched the careers of numerous pioneering performers, and has ran at the Apollo since 1934.
Newark Public Radio (WBGO) — Newark, New Jersey
WBGO will digitize and make available to the public over 800 hours of rare jazz recordings from 1985-91 currently stored on at-risk DAT and Betamax tapes. Recordings include club and festival performances by some of jazz’s most iconic figures, as well as a trove of WBGO-produced, NPR-syndicated jazz programs. Recordings will be available online via the American Archive of Public Broadcasting, and onsite at the Library of Congress and GBH in Boston.
UC Santa Barbara — Santa Barbara, California
UCSB Library will digitize and make accessible recordings of the groundbreaking radio broadcasts of the CBS Symphony conducted by Bernard Herrmann in the 1930s and 1940s. Herrmann’s early career as a conductor is documented by 70 radio broadcasts on 200 lacquer discs held by UCSB.
Boston Symphony Orchestra — Boston
The BSO will preserve and make accessible 233 live concert radio broadcasts from 1979-1991 of John Williams conducting the Boston Pops. Recorded on quarter inch reel-to-reel audiotape, these historically significant tapes document his work with such artists as Marilyn Horne, Tony Bennett, John Denver, as well as his own film music yet are currently inaccessible. We will create preservation master files and access copies for public use both remotely and onsite.
Freight & Salvage — Berkeley, California
The grant to Freight & Salvage will continue preservation of recordings and sustain copyright research. This encompasses 70 percent of 2,500 recordings featuring historic musicianship collected over our 54-year history. Wrapping up the digitalization and documentation of analog formats, they will progress to transferring recordings dated 1989-2020 to include early digital formats, e.g., DAT and CD-R, thus archiving the remaining 30 percent of our collection.
The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation Archive will digitize, preserve, make accessible, and disseminate approximately 400 audio and video recordings originally recorded on highly fragile formats made between 1989 to 2006. The recordings were made at the world-renowned New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival and are comprised of superb interviews and performances in the genres of gospel, Cajun, zydeco, jazz, traditional jazz, Mardi Gras Indian, blues, R&B, international, pop, and rock by legendary and highly influential performers.
National Football League, NFLPA and Mythical Team Up for Upcoming NFL Play-and-Own NFT Video Game
NEW YORK and LOS ANGELES – The National Football League (NFL), NFL Players Association (NFLPA) and next-generation gaming technology studio Mythical Games today announced a partnership to launch NFL Rivals, a new NFL video game that leverages blockchain technology, on the Mythical Platform in early 2023. Delivering on the fantasy of being a team General Manager, this fun, easy to play game will allow NFL fans and gamers alike to compete against other GMs with their assembled player rosters and teams, building, leveling up and improving their lineup. In addition, fans will be able to own, collect and trade non-fungible tokens (NFTs) of their favorite players through this play-and-own game experience.
“With the rise of blockchain technology, we are thrilled to partner with Mythical Games on a blockchain-enabled game that delivers new play-to-own NFT capabilities, creating a new adventure for fans who love to play football games,” said Joe Ruggiero, SVP of Consumer Products at the NFL. “The interest in NFTs and video gaming amongst current and prospective fans continues to grow and combined have accelerated the NFL’s exploration of new gaming models that can deliver an unmatched experience to fans.”
Ahead of the NFL Rivals game launch, 32 limited-quantity collections of unique generative 3D NFL franchise-themed NFTs will be released in a series of drops called “Rarity League.” This officially licensed collection will provide owners access to special events, in-game rewards and other unique features.
“NFTs are revolutionizing the fan experience, and we’re excited to collaborate with the imaginative team at Mythical Games to create a whole new blockchain-based world in which NFL players take center stage.” said Terése Whitehead, Vice President, Consumer Products & Strategy at NFL Players Inc., the marketing and licensing arm of the NFLPA.
“Partnering with the NFL to drive new fan and player engagement through fresh game design and the benefits of Web3 is an exciting moment for us,” said Jamie Jackson, Chief Creative Officer, Mythical Games. “NFTs with utility can add value to players in-game, and we can’t wait to bring these concepts to NFL Rivals to evolve the team management genre by adding the advantages of play-and-own games, offering the community new ways to engage with their favorite teams and players both in and outside this virtual world.”
NFL Rivals will launch globally for web and mobile web in early 2023. Interested players can join the Discord or visit the NFL Rivals website now for more information and to stay updated.
The Wolf Man, Dracula and The Mummy Unite for the First Time Ever for Universal’s Newest Haunted House
ORLANDO, Fla., UNIVERSAL CITY, Ca. (FNN) – Universal Pictures’ most notorious horror icons, The Wolf Man, Dracula and The Mummy, come together for the first time ever in the all-new “Universal Monsters: Legends Collide” haunted houses as part of Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios Hollywood and Universal Orlando Resort – where these infamous classic monsters invite guests to join them in an epic battle beginning this September.
Halloween Horror Nights continues to expand on the thrilling legacy from Universal Pictures – the movie studio that birthed the classic horror monsters on screen – with this original haunted house debuting at Universal Studios’ theme parks from coast-to-coast. Inspired by the event’s previous Universal Monsters attractions, this year’s unique experience resurrects the monstrous triple threat of The Wolf Man, Dracula and The Mummy for one harrowing haunted house.
This bi-coastal experience will transport guests to the 19th century with the trio of monsters seeking one thing: The Amulet of Ra. The Wolf Man believes this ancient relic contains the power to finally lift his dreaded curse, while Dracula and The Mummy have nefarious plans to use it to bring humankind to its knees. With the full moon on the rise and a race against time, guests find themselves entangled in a bloodthirsty battle between the terrifying titans – and only one will survive.
Elevating the mayhem, GRAMMY® Award-winning musician, SLASH, returns to collaborate with Universal Studios Hollywood with an original composition for their haunted house.
Halloween Horror Nights begins on Friday, September 2 in Orlando with 10 terrifying haunted houses and Thursday, September 8 in Hollywood with eight frightening haunted houses. Both events will run select nights through Monday, October 31, and additional details will be revealed soon.
Tickets and vacation packages are now on sale for Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Orlando Resort, and tickets for Universal Studios Hollywood will be available soon. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit www.HalloweenHorrorNights.com.