THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – At last, wide receiver Tutu Atwell's first career reception arrived.
And it came on a play the Rams have been wanting to connect on.
Beating Cowboys cornerback Trevon Diggs deep, Atwell hauled in a 54-yard grab that set up a 29-yard field goal by Rams kicker Matt Gay.
"It was awesome, man. I was already ready on 'go,'" Atwell said Thursday. "I visualized the play already before it was called, so I was ready. When they called it, I was kind of excited, and when we said 'hike,' I just took off."
These were the kinds of explosive plays the Rams likely envisioned when they took Atwell in the second round of the 2021 NFL Draft, capitalizing on that speed to take the top off of opposing defenses. And once before this season, they had come close to completing it.
On 2nd and 2 from their own 43-yard line against the Cardinals in Week 3, Stafford launched the ball as Atwell raced downfield, but ended up overthrowing him. Had they connected, it likely would have at least set the Rams up inside the Cardinals 5-yard line, if not potentially resulted in a touchdown.
"It was great," Stafford said of Atwell's 54-yard reception. "Great to throw the ball down the field and connect on one. Obviously, he did a nice job running by a really solid corner and made a catch that was somewhat contested towards the end. It was good to see that from him. He's continuing to develop like we've said. His role is expanding and we've got to continue to try to find ways to give him the football and give him chances and give him opportunities."
Rams head coach Sean McVay also said they need to find ways to get Atwell more involved.
"I thought he made a great play, on a great player yesterday, great throw and catch," McVay said Monday. "Definitely provided a spark and need to figure out how to continue to give him more opportunities, and we'll see what that looks like."
That process, of course, works both ways. While McVay and Stafford have a role in that, Atwell has equal responsibility making those plays come to life.
"It was great to see that. I was pumped for him," Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp said Thursday. "We've got to get him to continue to do that, but that's the standard that Tutu should have. Those are the kinds of plays he can make, and should be making week in and week out."