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Puka Nacua eyeing more rookie records in the playoffs

After setting the rookie receiving and receptions records, what will Rams’ Puka Nacua do in the playoffs?

NFL: Los Angeles Rams at San Francisco 49ers Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Puka Nacua has already made history in the regular season, setting the rookie record for most catches and yards, but the Rams star receiver has an opportunity to do even more when the playoffs begin for him on Sunday. Which NFL rookie records could Puka set in the postseason?

These are the numbers to watch for when the Rams play the Detroit Lions on Sunday. Yes, what is important is getting the win, but Puka can do that AND the records at the same time.

Rookie Receiving Playoffs Single Game - 160, DK Metcalf

Seahawks’ DK Metcalf set the record in 2019, when he had 160 yards in a wild card win over the Eagles. He had seven catches and set the record on the final offensive play of the game.

It’s only been three weeks since the last time that Puka crossed over 160 yards in a game and he did twice as a rookie.

Puka had 164 yards against the Saints on December 21st, but also 163 yards against the Colts on October 1st. He also had 154 yards against the Steelers.

Those three games would rank first, first, and second all-time for a single playoff game rookie performance, if Puka did it against the Lions.

He’s getting a defense that ranks second against the run by 27th against the pass. It is likely that Matthew Stafford will target Puka Nacua early and often in this one.

Catches, Single Game - 13, Chad Morton

Saints rookie running back Chad Morton caught 13 passes in a divisional playoff loss to the Vikings in 2001. Quarterback Aaron Brooks targeted Morton 14 times and he had 13 catches for 106 yards. In that same game, teammate Willie Jackson had nine catches for 125 yards, while Vikings receivers Randy Moss and Cris Carter both had at least 120 yards.

Like Puka, Morton was a rookie who had been picked in the fifth round.

But Morton’s 13 catches was extremely strange, as he had just 30 catches for 213 yards in the regular season. He’s no Puka, who just had almost 1,500 yards. Also, Morton was a running back.

The most catches by a rookie receiver in a playoff game is 11, by Keke Coutee with the Texans in 2019, also a loss. Coutee is another player who didn’t have a very productive regular season and then went off in a playoff game. Another running back, Joseph Addai, is third with 10 catches. Then Ja’Marr Chase, Lenvil Elliott, David Johnson, and Al Toon are tied with nine.

This is honestly not a record that should be that difficult for Puka. His career-high is 15 catches, which came in Week 2 against the 49ers. He caught 10 passes once and nine passes twice. He could at least tie Chase.

Full Playoffs, Catches - Ja’Marr Chase, 25

Chase caught 25 passes over four games with the Bengals in 2021, culminating of course in the Super Bowl loss to the Rams. That’s the rookie record for an entire postseason run.

Addai had 22 catches in 2006, while former Ram Torry Holt had 20 catches in 1999, but in only three games. If Holt had four games, like Chase, he could have set the record.

Will Puka get more than one game? He might. He could get several. He could get four. If Puka gets four games, there’s no question he should set this record.

Full Playoffs, Yards - Chase, 368

There’s nobody else who is even close. Charlie Brown and Holt tied for second with 242 receiving yards in a playoff run. Again, Holt did it in three games.

If Puka Nacua gets over 100 yards in the wild card round and the Rams win, he’ll be inching closer and closer to Chase’s rookie record of 368 in four games. Not bad for a fifth round pick.