Nacua breaks rookie receiving record as Rams beat Browns, 36-19

Ric Tapia - The Sporting Tribune
The Rams are .500 and in the playoff picture after winning their third consecutive game.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. – With Sunday’s 36-19 win over the Cleveland Browns, the Los Angeles Rams have won three consecutive games since the bye week. It is the first time since 2021 when they were crowned Super Bowl champions that they won three straight games. The Rams also improved to .500 on the season with a record of 6-6. The Rams are seventh in the NFC and hold the final wild card spot. 

Here are the key takeaways from Sunday’s win: 

Rams safety John Johnson III’s had the play of the game

John Johnson III, the seventh-year veteran safety, picked off Joe Flacco with 6:51 left in the fourth quarter. It was the “turning point” of the game according to McVay. To sweeten the play for Johnson, it was against his former team. 

Johnson was a late signing by the Rams as the team wrapped up training camp in August, the team that drafted him in the third round back in 2017. He left Los Angeles to join the Cleveland Browns in 2021 where he spent two seasons before returning to the Rams.

He finished the game with six tackles including one solo tackle, two passes defended, one interception, and one pass breakup.

Rams wideout Puka Nacua broke franchise rookie records

With a 12-yard reception in the first quarter, Puka Nacua broke the Rams’ rookie record for the most receiving yards (925) in a single season. He passed Eddie Kennison’s 924, who previously held the record. Nacua managed to achieve the record in three fewer games (12) than Kennison did in 1996.

He even received a shout out from LeBron James who was in attendance for Sunday’s game.

Nacua also became the first player in Rams history to notch 1,000 receiving yards in a season. His longest reception on the day was a 70-yard catch that led to a touchdown in the first quarter. He finished the game with one touchdown and 105 yards.

Puka Nacua joined Randy Moss and Ja’Marr Chase as one of three players to have three games with 150+ scrimmage yards this season. 

Despite his record-setting day, Nacua left the second quarter. He returned to the game, immediately made a catch and then was down on the Browns’ sideline. He walked off the field accompanied by the Rams training staff and went directly back to the locker room. After the game, McVay stated that he was dealing with both a shoulder and rib injury.

While Nacua was being evaluated by the medical staff, the Rams wide receivers stepped up and made some key plays to keep the momentum going. Wideout Demarcus Robinson scored his first touchdown as a Ram with 39 seconds left in the third quarter. He caught a seven-yard pass from Matthew Stafford. Robinson contributed four receptions for 55 yards on the day. 

In the fourth quarter, Cooper Kupp found the end zone for the first time since week six against Arizona.

Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford praises the offensive line

Rams’ quarterback Matthew Stafford had high praise for the offensive line, especially considering the Browns entered this game with the No. 1 ranked overall defense, on third downs, and in passing.  

“My guys we’re balling today so I was so fired up,” Stafford said. “That’s a hell of a rush. They were bringing pressures, they were rushing four, they were doing all sorts of stuff to us and our guys to step up there and protect the way they did today was amazing.” 

The offensive line allowed Stafford to complete 22-of-37 passes for 279 yards and three touchdowns. 

Admittedly, there were still elements in all three phases that the Rams need to clean up. It was the third straight week that the Rams gave up a touchdown on the opening-drive to the opposition. The Rams will have another opportunity to reduce the amount of careless penalties, missed field goals, and opposing team’s opening-drive scores, when the team travels to Baltimore to face Lamar Jackson and the Ravens on Sunday.