Tuesday's NFL: Cooper Kupp's 2 TD catches carry Rams past Seahawks 20-10
Inglewood, Calif. — Cooper Kupp caught two touchdown passes from Matthew Stafford in the second half, and the Los Angeles Rams held off the Seattle Seahawks 20-10 Tuesday night in a rescheduled game between two COVID-19-depleted teams.
Kupp broke Isaac Bruce’s single-season Rams receptions record in the third quarter with a 6-yard TD catch that was also the 120th of his spectacular year. The NFL’s receiving leader then scored a tiebreaking 29-yard touchdown with 10:48 to play on a picture-perfect throw over the middle from Stafford to cap an 88-yard drive.
Stafford passed for 244 yards and Sony Michel rushed for 92 for the Rams (10-4) in a game postponed from Sunday, while Kupp had nine catches for 136 yards in the third straight victory for Los Angeles following a winless November.
With its third victory over Seattle in 2021, Los Angeles pulled even with Arizona atop the NFC West with three games to play, although the Cardinals hold the tiebreaker on division record.
DeeJay Dallas rushed for a touchdown for the Seahawks (5-9), whose streak of nine consecutive winning seasons under coach Pete Carroll ended. Seattle is still mathematically alive for its ninth playoff appearance in those 10 seasons, but will regret losing an eminently winnable game at SoFi Stadium.
Both defenses excelled in a meeting of two teams with significant COVID-19-related absences. The Rams were without starting right tackle Rob Havenstein, leading tackler Jordan Fuller, tight end Tyler Higbee and a host of backups after 10 days of roster turmoil, while the Seahawks were without leading receiver Tyler Lockett, starting cornerback D.J. Reed and leading rusher Alex Collins.
Carlos Dunlap had three of the Seahawks’ four sacks of Stafford, who didn't get comfortable behind a reconfigured offensive line. Seattle just couldn't get enough late stops or big plays from Russell Wilson, who went 17 of 31 for 156 yards and underthrew DK Metcalf on a key play in the fourth quarter, allowing Jalen Ramsey to break it up.
After Kupp's second TD, Los Angeles stopped Seattle on downs at midfield with 3:21 to play when Greg Gaines forced Wilson to throw quickly and officials didn't call possible pass interference committed against Dallas by rookie Rams linebacker Ernest Jones. Matt Gay made his second field goal for Los Angeles with 1:51 left, and Taylor Rapp sealed it with an end zone interception in the final seconds.
The Rams hung on in a frustrating game with big performances from their remarkable quarterback-receiver combo. Kupp had his 10th consecutive game with at least 90 yards receiving, a first in the NFL in the past 70 years.
Earlier, Stafford became the fastest quarterback in NFL history to rack up 50,000 yards passing when playoff totals are included.
Neither team reached the end zone in the first half, with the Rams scoring only three points despite possessing the ball for 21 minutes and driving into Seattle's end four times.
Quandre Diggs made his career high-tying fifth interception near the Seahawks’ goal line on the first snap of the second quarter to kill a solid drive by the Rams. Los Angeles then turned the ball over on downs 1:56 before halftime, leading to the Seahawks' field goal and a 3-3 halftime score.
Dallas scored to cap a 75-yard drive by the Seahawks out of halftime. The Rams immediately answered with their first TD drive capped by Kupp's historic catch.
More Tuesday games
Eagles 27, Washington 17: Jalen Hurts ran for two touchdowns and threw for another, helping the Philadelphia Eagles come back from an early deficit to beat virus-ravaged Washington 27-17 Tuesday night in a critical showdown with NFC playoff implications.
In his first game back from an ankle injury, Hurts scored on a pair of 1-yard QB sneaks to set the single-season franchise record for rushing touchdowns by a quarterback with 10 and connected with Greg Ward on a 19-yard TD pass. He was 20 of 26 for 296 yards passing with the TD and a bad-luck interception when Dallas Goedert dropped a catchable pass and the ball bounced off his right foot and into the hands of Washington’s Landon Collins.
Tyreek Hill among 21 NFL players added to COVID-19 list
Kansas City, Mo. — Another 21 NFL players were placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list Tuesday, including Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill, cornerback Rashad Fenton and tight end Blake Bell.
They were among nine players, including two on the practice squad, who joined tight end Travis Kelce and kicker Harrison Butker on Kansas City's growing list.
The Chiefs also have Charvarius Ward on the list, which means two of their top three cornerbacks are in the league's virus protocol, along with defensive tackle Chris Jones, linebacker Willie Gay Jr. and wide receiver Josh Gordon.
Linebacker Nick Bolton, offensive lineman Kyle Long, right tackle Lucas Niang and safety Armani Watts also were added to list on Tuesday.
On Monday, the first day under the NFL’s revised protocols, 47 players were placed on the COVID-19 list, the most in a single day since the pandemic began.
Another receiver on an AFC contender tested positive Tuesday when the Buffalo Bills placed wideout Cole Beasley — the team’s most vocal vaccine critic — on the COVID-19 list. Unvaccinated players aren't eligible to return for 10 days so Beasley wouldn't be available for Sunday's game at New England with first place in the AFC East on the line.
Buffalo could now be missing two starting receivers after Emmanuel Sanders missed this past weekend’s win over Carolina because of a knee injury.
Beasley, who was fined by the NFL last summer for failing to wear a mask inside the team’s facility, threatened to retire in June over how the league’s COVID-19 protocols specifically targeted unvaccinated players.
In July, Beasley opened training camp by saying he’s not anti- or pro-vaccination, but pro choice, in criticizing the NFL for failing to provide transparent information in making their choice to get vaccinated. In doing so, he contradicted coach Sean McDermott for saying the team has done everything possible to educate its players.
For the Chiefs, Jones, Gay and Gordon tested positive last week and missed Thursday night's win over the Chargers. There's a good chance the trio could return two negative tests and be available for this week's game against the Steelers.
“I'm hoping they're going to be there, but we just have to see how it goes,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. “You know, there's a matrix of things you have to work out. That's where (head trainer) Rick Burkholder comes in. I can't sit here and tell you how all that works right now. Rick is working through everything every day to see where we're at.”
Burkholder was among the experts that the NFL consulted during the offseason to devise its COVID-19 protocol.
Kelce, Butker and Ward tested positive on Monday, when the Chiefs began to return from their long weekend. The team did not have any formal meetings or practice until Tuesday and will begin game preparation in earnest on Wednesday.
Until the past two weeks, the Chiefs had navigated the season relatively unscathed when it came to COVID-19, losing only star safety Tyrann Mathieu for a week and a couple of role players. But the rapid transmission of the omicron variant across the league has hit Kansas City hard, resulting in some of their most important players going on the list.
Hill is second in the league with 102 catches and fourth with 1,178 yards to go along with nine touchdown catches. He had 12 catches for 148 yards and a touchdown in his most recent game against Los Angeles, breaking a tie with Chris Burford for third place in franchise history with 56 touchdown receptions.
Hill needs just six more catches to pass Kelce's single-season franchise record of 105 set last year.
Meanwhile, Kelce is coming off a game against the Chargers in which he caught 10 passes for a career-high 191 yards along with the tying TD late in the fourth quarter and the winner in overtime. Kelce has 1,066 yards receiving this season, the sixth straight of at least 1,000 — a record for both the Chiefs and for NFL tight ends.
“I think this year has been big for him where he hasn’t put up the same numbers, but his mentality has never changed. He’s been a leader on this team,” Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes said.
"When his number gets called, he goes out there and makes plays in big moments. That’s what special players do. He’s a special player. I’m glad he’s on my team.”
Together, Hill and Kelce have half of the Chiefs' receptions and more than half of their yards receiving this season.
If Hill is unable to play Sunday, the Chiefs will be forced to rely more heavily on inconsistent Mecole Hardman and Demarcus Robinson along with Byron Pringle as they try to keep the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoff race.
Kelce and Bell on the COVID-19 list would leave rookie Noah Gray as the only tight end on the active roster.
On the defensive side, which has helped fuel the Chiefs' seven-game win streak, the absence of Jones and Gay against the Chargers was evident in their inability to rush quarterback Justin Herbert.
The Chiefs would desperately like them back on the field against Pittsburgh, especially if they are without Fenton and Ward on the back end.
“We’ve had a couple things last week where we had to make a couple sudden changes,” Reid said earlier this week. "I’m not going to spend a ton of time on it. That’s what Rick does, so Rick explains it to the coaches and to the players, and then we roll with it. He’s the one that’s put a lot of time into it and continues to put a lot of time into it.”