Cooper Kupp has always been an outsider.
He had no stars when he left high school, by 247 Composite Sports Rankings, and he didn’t even get an offer to play for East Washington until three weeks after finishing his senior year in high school. Kupp set FCS records in receptions (428), receiving yards (6,464) and receiving touchdowns (73).
On Sunday, the 2017 third-round pick is set to set another record, this one in the NFL. Kupp totaled 1,829 receiving yards in 2021, leading the NFL by a distance. And when he takes the field for the last time in the 2021 regular season, he will have a chance to beat the single-season receiving yardage record set in 2012 by Calvin Johnson.
NFL single-season receiving yardage record
“Megatron” has had one of the best careers of any NFL wide receiver, and by 2012 he was at the peak of his dominance in the league.
He’s caught 122 passes this season and recorded 1,964 receiving yards, breaking Jerry Rice’s 1995 record 1,848 yards. Johnson had had a seemingly normal start to the year, catching 41 passes for 638 yards over the course. of the first seven games of the season. However, in the last nine games of the campaign, he was on fire, catching 81 passes for 1,326 yards with four touchdowns. He averaged 147.3 yards per game during that streak.
Since then, only three players have come close to Johnson’s record. In 2015, Julio Jones and Antonio Brown ran to see who would lead the league in receiving yards. Jones finished the season at 1,871 and Brown was second at 1,834. At the start of the final week of the 2021 season, those two scores rank second and fourth in yards received in a single season.
Kupp has now entered the conversation. He has the fifth most yards and numbers in a single season to pass Jones and Brown, at least, on Sunday to move up to second. The question will be whether he can overtake Johnson to claim the record.
How many receiving yards does Cooper Kupp have in 2021?
Kupp has had an amazing season. His 1,829 receiving yards lead the league by over 300, and his 138 receptions are the highest of over 20. The next closest player in receiving yards is the Vikings’ Justin Jefferson, who has just 1,509. , while the Packers’ Davante Adams is second in receptions at 117.
Can Kupp break Johnson’s record? Here’s how he’s racked up those yards this season.
Kupp didn’t have the type of explosive one-game performance that Johnson had in his 2012 campaign. Johnson played two games with over 200 receiving yards and had two more with at least 160. Kupp n ‘only reached 160 yards this season (163 in Week 2).
But just like how Johnson ended the season strong, so has Kupp. In his last seven games, Kupp has caught 64 passes for 810 yards, averaging 115.7 yards per game. In that streak, four games saw him register at least 120 receiving yards.
The first game of that streak was against the 49ers, where he caught 11 passes for 122 yards. If he repeated that performance, he’d be just timid in the rush for the receiving yard record, but he would equal Michael Thomas’ single-season receiving record in 2019 at 149.
Kupp needs 136 yards to break Johnson’s record for receiving yards. He’s had exactly 136 against the Seahawks in Week 15 and twice this season he’s had at least that many.
The only other single-season record pursuit underway is that of Steelers linebacker TJ Watt, chasing Michael Strahan’s single-season sack record. Watt has missed two games and will therefore end the season at 15.
Therefore, Kupp will be one of the first tested players in history with the record if he overtakes Johnson. In 16 games, Kupp is still 135 yards from Johnson. But Kupp will have the added advantage of a 17-game season, while Johnson appeared in 16 games in 2012.
Even Kupp admitted that breaking the record would happen under unique circumstances.
“What the guys did to set those records – Mike Thomas, Randy Moss for touchdowns, what Calvin Johnson did with yards – what these guys did in 16 games, it wouldn’t seem fair that these are beaten in 17 games. Kupp said, according to the rams. “It wouldn’t have the same weight for me as it would for the guys who did that in a 16 game season. The accomplishments of these guys, the seasons they’ve hosted, are incredible accomplishments. , so you kind of have to separate the two. We’re in a new era of football here where we play 17 games a year. A lot of things that happened before that, I think those records have a different weight, being given that they were played in those 16 games. “
Establishing the new mark in receiving yards won’t be easy for Kupp. The 49ers have allowed the 28th fewest receiving yards this season at just 3,309. But if anyone can help Kupp break the record, it would be Matthew Stafford. The current Rams quarterback has been the center of the pitch at Johnson throughout the record breaking season, and now has a chance to help another wide receiver set the score.