Rams

Here's How Rams' Cooper Kupp Can Win Triple Crown of Receiving and Break NFL Records

Cooper Kupp is finishing up one of the greatest seasons by a receiver in NFL history.

Los Angeles Rams v Minnesota Vikings
David Berding/Getty Images

Cooper Kupp only knows he's finishing up one of the greatest seasons by a receiver in NFL history because people won't stop telling him about it.

The Los Angeles Rams' star wideout insists he doesn't watch any sports television heralding his achievements, and he refuses to read up on himself online. His fleeting time outside the Rams' training complex and stadiums during the season is reserved for his wife and kids.

“I'm pretty much away from football when I'm away from football,” he said with a grin.

Yet Kupp is well aware he's leading the NFL in receptions, yards receiving, and touchdown catches as the Rams (12-4) attempt to clinch the NFC West title in their 17th game Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers at SoFi Stadium.

Here's how Kupp can become just the fourth receiver in NFL history to lead the league in every major receiving category and take home the receiving triple crown:

Kupp currently leads the NFL in receptions with 138. Green Back Packers receiver Devonte Adams is second with 117. Needless to say, unless Kupp goes catchless in week 18 and Adams goes off, the receptions crown is in the bag.

Kupp is also closing in on the all-time NFL record for receptions in a single season. New Orleans Saints' receiver Michael Thomas holds the record with 149 set in 2019. Kupp needs just six catches to surpass Marvin Harrison for second all-time and 11 catches will tie him with Thomas, 12 will set a new single-season record.

Kupp currently leads the NFL in receiving yards with 1,829. He's more than 300 yards ahead of Vikings' receiver Justin Jefferson who is in second. Once again, it would take a Herculean effort by Jefferson to surpass Kupp in this category, even if Kupp doesn't even record a catch on Sunday.

The all-time NFL record for most receiving yards in a single season is 1,964 set by Calvin Johnson in 2012. Ironically, Matthew Stafford was his quarterback during that historic season, just as he is for Kupp in 2021. Kupp is currently fifth on the all-time receiving yards list and can continue to move up on Sunday.

Kupp needs just five yards to pass Antonio Brown for 4th on the list, 20 yards to pass Jerry Rice for 3rd on the list, 42 yards to pass Julio Jones for 2nd on the list, and 135 yards to pass Johnson. Kupp is currently averaging 114.3 yard per game this season. If he can have an above average game. He should surpass Johnson's record.

Finally, Kupp leads all NFL receivers in touchdowns this season with 15. However, he's only two ahead of Cincinnati Bengals rookie' Ja'Marr Chase who has 13, and three ahead of Seattle Seahawks receiver D.K. Metcalf and Tampa Bay Buccaneers Mike Evans who each have 12. All three of those receivers are in striking distance of Kupp, but if the Rams' receiver can find the end zone again on Sunday, that should be enough to secure the coveted triple-crown prize.

If he's able to accomplish the feat, he would join Jerry Rice (1990), Sterling Sharpe (1992) and Steve Smith (2005), as the only receivers in NFL history to lead the league in all three top receiving categories in the same season.

“It would be a pretty incredible thing,” Kupp said. “There’s a lot of good players in this league, a lot of receivers I’ve got a ton of respect for, so it would be very cool. The most important thing is that we win the game, lock down the division title and be ready to move into the playoffs here, but it would be a very cool thing because of the respect I have for the players in this league and the talent that there is. It’s a tough thing to do.”

Yet when asked about his chance to topple two historic marks, Kupp says he would be the first to attach a Roger Maris-style asterisk to those achievements.

“We’re in the longest football season ever played,” Kupp said. “What the guys did that set those records ... in 16 games, it wouldn’t seem right for those to be broken in 17 games. It wouldn’t hold the same weight to me as it does for guys that have done that in a 16-game season, and the accomplishments those guys had, the seasons those guys put together. Those are incredible things, incredible accomplishments. You kind of have to separate the two.

“We’re in a new age of football here where we’re playing 17 games a year. A lot of stuff that happened before that, those records hold a different weight.”

Winning a triple crown is an achievement that isn't made easier by the extra game, and Kupp is in a strong position to join that club.

Kupp leads Green Bay’s Davante Adams, who probably won't play much Sunday, by a whopping 21 receptions. He is a comfortable 320 yards in front of Minnesota’s Justin Jefferson atop the yards receiving table. Kupp is only two touchdown catches ahead of Cincinnati’s Ja’Marr Chase and three clear of both Tampa Bay’s Mike Evans and Seattle’s DK Metcalf.

Kupp's production has been steadier than a metronome: He has at least 90 yards receiving in an NFL-record 12 consecutive games and 15 overall. He has at least seven catches in 14 games, and he has scored in 10 different games.

“We’ve got so much confidence in him in everything we do, from a standpoint of the run and the pass and his impact on the game,” offensive coordinator Kevin O'Connell said. “But what’s remarkable is that his catches and his targets and those things, there really hasn’t been a time where you look back on it and you feel like you’ve forced anything to him. It’s come in the rhythm of the offense and the rhythm of progressions.”

Despite the immediate, deep connection with new quarterback Matthew Stafford that has taken him to the brink of NFL history, Kupp still sees himself as a team-first receiver who relishes blocking a defender to spring a teammate as much as catching a touchdown pass.

His teammates and coaches are aware of the history Kupp could make Sunday. They insist it won't alter their game plan — since any winning game plan for these Rams involves getting the ball to Kupp early and often anyway.

“That’s not something you get the chance to do every day — or every season, really,” Stafford said. "So (I’m) just happy for him and his success, and sharing a little small part in that is pretty cool.”

NOTES: DB Jalen Ramsey said his altercation with S Taylor Rapp in the first quarter of last weekend's win at Baltimore was a momentary flare-up between friends: “We’re fine now, but during the heat of the game, and both of us being super-passionate, wanting to make the right call, put ourselves in the right position for the team, we had a disagreement. That’s my dog.” ... The Rams chapter of the Pro Football Writers of America gave its annual Good Guy award to Ramsey for his professionalism and courtesy in dealing with the media.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
Contact Us