Kupp: ‘Have to separate’ records in 17-game era

  • Covered Rams for two years for Los Angeles Times
  • Previously covered the Falcons
  • Has covered the NBA and college football and basketball

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. — Wide receiver Cooper Kupp will have several history-making opportunities on Sunday when the Los Angeles Rams play a regular-season finale against the San Francisco 49ers, but the fifth-year pro and first-time Pro Bowl selection suggested that breaking records in an expanded season would require an asterisk.

“We’re in a new age of football here,” Kupp said. “We’re playing 17 games of football a year, and a lot of the stuff that happened before that, those records hold a different weight, being that that were played in those 16 games.”

Kupp is on track to become the fourth player during the Super Bowl era to earn the NFL’s “triple crown,” as the leader in receptions, touchdown receptions and receiving yards.

“It would be a pretty incredible thing,” said Kupp, who would join the company of Pro Football Hall of Fame wide receiver Jerry Rice (1990), Sterling Sharpe (1992) and Steve Smith (2005). “There are a lot of good football players in this league, a lot of really good receivers who I’ve got a ton of respect for, so it would be very cool.”

With a league-high 1,829 receiving yards and 15 touchdowns on 138 catches, Kupp also will have the chance to set the single-season receptions and receiving yardage record.

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But Kupp insisted if he were able to capture those records that it must be recognized it happened in a 17-game season.

“What those guys did in 16 games, it wouldn’t seem right to, I don’t know, for those to be broken in 17 games,” Kupp said. “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 and the seasons they put together. Those are incredible things, incredible accomplishments. You kind of have to separate the two.”

Hall of Fame wideout Calvin Johnson holds the single-season receiving yards record with 1,964 (2012). Kupp enters Sunday needing 135 receiving yards to tie the record, a lofty number, though he has more than 100 receiving yards in 10 games this season and has four games with 130 or more receiving yards.

New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas owns the single-season receptions record with 149 (2019). Kupp is shy of tying Thomas by 11 receptions, which Kupp has reached in three games this season.

“Those records hold a different weight,” Kupp said about Johnson’s and Thomas’ records. “I have just an incredible respect for what those guys were able to do, what they were able to accomplish, what they were able to produce for their teams in those 16 games.”

The Rams (12-4) have already clinched a playoff berth but are in position on Sunday to earn a third NFC West title in five seasons under coach Sean McVay. The 49ers (9-7) need a win (or a Saints loss to the Atlanta Falcons) to clinch a playoff spot.

“My priorities are going out and winning this game this week, whatever it takes to win it,” Kupp said when asked if it was a priority to earn the records. “If it means spending more time blocking defensive ends and being able to get Sony sprung for some big gains, that would be huge. I just want to do my job, whatever they ask of me, I just want to do my job over and over again and be a part of helping this team win.”

Kupp set the Rams single-season receiving yards record on Sunday in a 20-19 victory over the Baltimore Ravens, passing Isaac Bruce’s mark of 1,781 receiving yards set in 1995.

Kupp also registered his 15th touchdown reception of the season in the win, becoming the fourth player in NFL history with 100 receptions, 1,500 receiving yard and 15 receiving touchdowns in a single season, joining Randy Moss (2003), Marvin Harrison (2001) and Rice (1995).

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