It’s no secret that Cooper Kupp and Matthew Stafford had a great first year together.
The Los Angeles Rams‘ quarterback and receiver duo were statistically the best in the league last season. Kupp won the receiving triple crown, catching 145 passes from Stafford for 1,947 yards and 16 touchdowns.
The strong connection between Stafford and Kupp was arguably the biggest reason why the Rams won Super Bowl LVI, which Kupp won the MVP of. In an interview on The Volume’s “The Colin Cowherd’s Podcast,” Kupp shared the moment he realized Stafford was great came before their first game together – and that a similar moment happened in the Super Bowl.
Kupp Connected Key Play From Super Bowl to First Great Moment He Had With Stafford
One of the most impressive plays of the Rams’ 18-play, 79-yard drive to win the Super Bowl was when Stafford threw a no-look pass to Kupp for a 22-yard completion.
That wasn’t the first time Kupp had been on the receiving end of a Stafford no-look pass. The reigning Offensive Player of the Year shared that Stafford threw him a similar pass in OTAs prior to the 2021 season, and that was the moment Kupp realized Stafford’s talent.
“You know, it’s funny that you bring this up but I hadn’t thought about this – the play that happened during OTAs, probably a year ago to the day almost, that the light went on and was like ‘Oh, this is what makes this guy great’ is the exact same play that we ran that he no-look [passed] in the Super Bowl,” Kupp said. “That was the first time that I went back and felt what he had done and thought ‘He might have just no-looked that one.’ I went back and watched on film – and seeing him manipulate people underneath and do what he did with his eyes and being able to throw the ball that he did, it was literally on the exact same play that he no-looked in the Super Bowl when he had that great one on that last drive. It was literally that exact same play. That was the moment where I was like ‘This guy has something different.’
“He’s not a quarterback that’s reactive. You know the saying, ‘Take what the defense gives you?’ A lot of the time that’s true. He also understands when to say ‘No, I’m going to dictate where this ball is going and move the people and make sure I can make the throw I want to make that’s going to be the big play.'”
The no-look pitch-and-catch from Stafford to Kupp set the duo up for their most important completion of the season. Nine plays later, Stafford threw a one-yard touchdown pass to Kupp to put the Rams up 23-20 with 1:25 remaining.
Stafford and Kupp needed to make another clutch play though in order for the Rams to reach the Super Bowl.
Kupp Broke Down How Stafford Completed the Pass to Him That Set Up the Game-Winning Field Goal Against the Buccaneers
Three weeks earlier, in the NFC Divisional Round, the Rams got the ball back with 42 seconds left after the Buccaneers scored 24 straight points to tie the game, 27-27.
As the game appeared to be heading to overtime and with the Buccaneers having all of the momentum, the Rams’ star duo made another clutch play. Stafford launched a pass to Kupp for a 44-yard completion, getting the Rams down to the Buccaneers’ 12-yard line with five seconds left.
Kupp broke down that play with Cowherd and gave Stafford all the credit for the play.
“So, that play wasn’t even called for me,” Kupp said. “That play was called for Van Jefferson, who was going to run a dagger route. I was going to occupy the deep safety and try to pull out some guys by running down the middle of the field. Jefferson was running a little widened dagger in-cut at 20 yards and the ball was going to be coming to him and we were going to try to get there and spoke the ball for one last play.
“They ended up sliding into that zero [coverage] late, don’t quite hit it how they want to, I feel a safety slide over and hope Matthew was going to get that thing up. What Matthew did that’s not appreciated on that play was that he was able to see zero [coverage], buy enough time, and put the ball up when I was 12, 13 yards down the field. But it wasn’t caught until I was 40-plus yards down the field. For him to put the air on it that he needed to, for me to catch it in stride, as long as I was running down the field was an incredible throw on his part.”
After Stafford and the rest of the Rams’ offense joined Kupp down the field to spike the ball, Matt Gay came on to kick the game-winning field goal, which moved the Rams a step closer to their eventual Super Bowl win.