For a moment, it felt like the stars were aligning for Cooper Kupp.
Despite catching five passes for 84 yards in the first half on Sunday – putting him well on target to break the single-season NFL record for receptions and receiving yards – the Los Angeles Rams’ wide receiver seemed to come up short of opportunities in the second half, needing 19 yards and five catches to break either record.
Then, with 1:27 on the clock and facing elimination from playoff contention, the San Francisco 49ers rallied for a late-game touchdown to force overtime and keep Kupp’s record-breaking quest alive.
In overtime, the Rams’ offense struggled to connect downfield. Ultimately, quarterback Matthew Stafford’s deep throw to Odell Beckham Jr. was picked off by 49ers cornerback Ambry Thomas, securing San Francisco a 27-24 win and ending Kupp’s chances of entering the history books this season.
Kupp’s dominant season now places him second in both single-season receptions and receiving yards. His 1,946 receiving yards are right behind Calvin Johnson. Johnson, dubbed “Megatron,” recorded 1,964 receiving yards in 2012 with the Detroit Lions. What do Kupp and Johnson have in common? Both had Stafford at the helm of their offenses.
Meanwhile, the 2019 record set by Michael Thomas for receptions in a season lived to stand another day. Thomas caught 149 passes with the Saints, four more than Kupp’s 145.
Kupp has been on the watchlist to break both of these records since the opening weeks of the regular season. Since being drafted by the Rams in 2017, Kupp has continued to increase his productivity, leading Los Angeles in receptions and receiving yards for the past three seasons.
He broke a 26-year franchise record for receiving yards in a single season last week against the Baltimore Ravens. His 95 yards on six receptions propelled him past Isaac Bruce’s 1,780-yard season with the then-St. Louis Rams in 1995.
While personally disappointing for Kupp, both teams left SoFi Stadium in good position for the postseason.
A win would have earned the Rams the No. 2 seed, but their division championship secured them a top-four spot in the NFC and they’re scheduled to take on the NFC West rival Arizona Cardinals next weekend.
Meanwhile, with the New Orleans Saints beating the Atlanta Falcons, Sunday’s win was a must for the 49ers, who locked in the No. 6 seed ahead of next week’s matchup with the Dallas Cowboys in the wild card round.