PITTSBURGH — Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp is one of the most prolific pass catchers in the entire NFL.
You probably wouldn’t know that if the first time you saw him play was in Sunday’s 17-12 Rams loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Cupp was targeted four times by Rams quarterback Jared Goff and didn’t make a single catch as the Steelers secondary plastered him with two and three defenders all afternoon.
Head coach Mike Tomlin said after the game that taking away Cupp was a big part of the Steelers’ game plan coming in.
“We doubled him a lot,” Tomlin said. “He is the number on receiver in the NFL on third down. All our third-down discussions started there. Minimizing his ability to impact the game in the way and then working out from there.”
Goff was able to spread the ball around to some of this other targets, with tight end Gerald Everett the largest recipient. He caught eight catches for 68 yards. Outside receiver Robert Woods was also productive, with seven catches for 95 yards, but on the whole, the Los Angeles passing attack was held in check when they needed completions.
“They did a lot of things,” Goff said. “They doubled him at times. They didn’t double him at times and just played really good coverage. They did a lot of things. I think their pass rush did a great job.” The Steelers sacked Goff four times, hurried him another four and batted two more passes down at the line of scrimmage.
“Whenever we can pin our ears back and trust the back end guys to have tight coverage and make plays, it lets us pin our ears back and make plays up front,” outside linebacker T.J. Watt said. “It doesn’t matter which guy is doing it.”
The Steelers have shown a solid pass rush all season. The ability to completely take away another team’s star receiver at the same time seems like a significant point of growth for Tomlin’s defense.