INDIANAPOLIS – For all Puka Nacua had accomplished in his blazing start to his NFL career, the Rams rookie wide receiver was still missing one achievement.
His first career touchdown.
That changed on Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium, when quarterback Matthew Stafford found him for the walk-off score to defeat the Colts 29-23 in overtime.
"Like the video game you keep pausing when you lose so you make sure that you can get the right play at the very end," Nacua said postgame, when asked how he would describe the game-winning catch. "It was sweet. I don't know, I can't wait. I already called my mom and all my siblings. Just constant screaming. I think I screamed for like 10 minutes straight up."
It was the bookend of a drive that was kickstarted by a 20-yard completion from Stafford to Nacua, and also the result of what appeared to be blown coverage Colts secondary. Both Stafford and Nacua were surprised at how wide open he was on the final play.
"Great play by Puka," Stafford said. "Obviously, I've got to go see the tape, but it looks like a little bit of a blown coverage. I felt like that, looking down the middle going, 'Man, I'm not seeing somebody in there.' Threw it a little bit high just thinking that there was somebody standing there and there wasn't. Happy that he made the play and got it in so we didn't have to keep going."
Nacua said he could tell by the ball Stafford was trying to hold him in the zone, so he thought he wasn't running through it.
"And then I turned around and I was like, 'Wait, there's nobody here,'" Nacua continued. "So I just tried to find the endzone and saw safety coming, made a move on him. I was in shock as well."
Beyond that personal milestone, Nacua also finished with nine catches for 163 yards on Sunday. Overall, his 39 receptions and 501 receiving yards are most by a player in their first four games in NFL history.
He seems confident he can maintain his highly-productive pace.
"Shoot, if they keep asking me to do it, I'm just trying to do my job," Nacua said. "So whenever number nine throws the ball my way, I'm super happy because I know he's making it my job as easy as it can be. But try and take care of my body. I'm grateful for the people in the training room and the staff we got here. Sleep is my number one friend now. Going to bed as early as I can at night, 9-9:30, 9:30 at the latest."
Rams head coach Sean McVay emphasized Nacua will still have a role – and thus, the opportunities to continue producing – even once wide receiver Cooper Kupp returns.
"I think he's going to continue to play at a high level," McVay said. "I don't see any indications of that changing. Now, we evaluate snap in and snap out. It's not exclusive to just what we see on the stat sheet. I see the way this guy plays without the ball. I see the way that he's running routes even if he might not be a part of the progression where Matthew (Stafford) ends up finding him. He has done a great job. I think he has only gotten better. When you are able to add another great player into the mix it's only going to help our offense."