SANTA CLARA–Rams rookie Wide Receiver Puka Nacua established an NFL rookie record for catches and yards receiving in a season in the Los Angeles Rams 21-20 victory over the San Francisco 49ers at Levi’s Stadium on Sunday, January 7. Next Sunday, the Los Angeles Rams will visit the Detroit Lions in the Wild Card round of the NFL Playoffs.

Since the Rams and 49ers playoff position had already been cemented, nearly every star rested. That includes Brock Purdy and Christian McCaffrey for San Francisco. Whereas Rams Head Coach Sean McVay sat out Cooper Kupp, Aaron Donald and Matthew Stafford.

Rams and Lions, so many storylines surrounding this playoff matchup in the Motor City. Rams Quarterback Matthew Stafford returns home in the first playoff game hosted by Detroit in 30 years against the Lions team that drafted him first overall in 2009.

Stafford was dealt to Los Angeles before the 2021 season in a deal that sent Rams’ former No. 1 overall pick Jared Goff to the Lions. The Rams went on to win the Super Bowl that season, while the Lions have turned into a winning team, thanks in part to Goff.

“Exciting for this team just to get back to where we are right now, to be honest with you,” Stafford said. “The opportunity happens to be in Detroit, which is fun for me on a personal level.”

Another intriguing detail is Jared Goff versus Sean McVay. Goff, who was also drafted first by the Los Angeles Rams, has rejuvenated his career with the Lions. Rams Head Coach Sean McVay and the fanbase, whether fairly or unfairly, blamed Goff singlehandedly for losing Super Bowl LII to the New England Patriots.

McVay was so pleased once Goff was gone, he rubbed it in just a little too deep for comfort. Of course there were half-hearted apologies afterward, but they meant nothing.

Which means this will be an intense, physical game. Perhaps the best matchup in Super Wildcard Weekend.

Oh yeah, I was supposed to be writing about the Rams 49ers outcome. Backup QB Carson Wentz helped make it happen when he scored on a 12-yard run with 4:56 to play and then converted a 2-point conversion pass to Tutu Atwell to put the Rams ahead 21-20.

The biggest drama was Nacua’s chase of the rookie records for catches and yards receiving. Nacua caught a 19-yard TD pass from Wentz in the first quarter to tie Bill Groman’s record of 1,473 yards that had stood since 1960.

He then broke the mark with a 7-yard catch on the opening drive of the third quarter. Nacua stayed in the game for one more play and caught a 6-yard pass to give him 105 catches – one more than the record set by Miami’s Jaylen Waddle in 2021.

In an extremely sweet moment, he went to the sideline to get a hug from his mother. Every Rams fan let out a collective sigh of relief once Puka was removed.

Los Angeles will travel to Detroit to take on the Lions on Super Wild Card Weekend. The broadcast is scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. on Sunday, January 14 on NBC.