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AROUND THE SHIELD — For the first time in six games, Puka Nacua found himself back in the end zone — and the Los Angeles Rams found themselves back in the win column?
Coincidence? Probably, but there might be a little bit of poetry to it, as well.
Nacua caught a team-high five passes for 70 yards and a touchdown as a hobbled-but-effective Matthew Stafford helped rally the Rams to a 17-16 win over the NFC West rival Seattle Seahawks to highlight Week 11 of the 2023 NFL regular season.
The touchdown continued Nacua’s history-making rookie season, where he’s on pace to finish among the top three in NFL history for receptions by a rookie; he already has his jersey in the Hall of Fame.
His 69 catches for 897 yards and three touchdowns through 11 games is one catch ahead of the pace set by Jaylen Waddle when he set the NFL rookie record fo receptions in 2021.
But his touchdown, where Nacua caught a short pass from Stafford before backpedaling against a host of Seahawk defenders for a 4-yard score with nine seconds left in the first half, may have helped turn the tide of a game where Seattle (6-4) led by as much as 13-0.
Shortly before Nacua re-emerged for his first game with more than 50 yards since catching eight passes for 154 yards in a 24-17 loss to the Steelers in Week 7, the Rams watched star wide out Cooper Kupp hobble off the field with an ankle injury.
While he missed his friend and teammate, Stafford wasn’t as concerned, though.
“He gets open and makes plays when he gets the opportunity. He was close on a couple, and could’ve had a huge day,” Stafford said of Nacua. “He’s a young, talented kid who works his tail off, a great teammate, and I’m happy to have him on our team.”
Los Angeles (4-6) rattled off a 10-3 second half, snapping their four-game losing skid on Havrisik’s 22-yard field goal with 1:31 remaining.
The stark turnaround was, at least in part, the result of sneaking Nacua’s touchdown over the line in the closing seconds of the half and other “hidden yards” among the Rams’ 267 offensive yardage, head coach Sean McVay said.
“To only be down the way that we were at the half after the way the first half went, we seemed really fortunate,” McVay said. “We certainly have to be better from an overall offensive perspective … but defensively, we checked a lot of boxes in a good way. Let’s build on that performance.”
Here are a few other highlights of former Utah high school and college football standouts from Week 11 of the 2023 NFL regular season:
- Former Utah State quarterback Jordan Love completed 27-of-40 passes for 322 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Packers to a 23-20 win over the Chargers.
- Former BYU star linebacker Fred Warner was everywhere Sunday, posting a team-high 12 tackles, splitting a sack, defending two passes and forcing a fumble in the 49ers’ 27-14 win over the Buccaneers.
- Former East High star Jaylen Warren ran for 129 yards on nine carries, including a 74-yard touchdown in the Steelers’ 13-10 loss to the Browns.
Monday Night Football
Philadelphia 21, Kansas City 17
- Britain Covey, WR/RS, Utah/Timpview: Returned three punts for 53 yards (17.7 yards per punt) on special teams.
- Sua Opeta, G, Weber State/Stansbury: Inactive for Week 11.
- No locals on the active roster, but coached by former BYU offensive lineman and graduate assistant Andy Reid.
Sunday Night Football
Denver 21, Minnesota 20
- Garett Bolles, OT, Utah/Snow/Westlake: Started at left tackle on offense.
- Jaren Hall, QB, BYU/Maple Mountain: Inactive for Week 11.
- Khyiris Tonga, DT, BYU/Granger: Reserve defensive tackle had two tackles on defense.
- Nick Vigil, LB, Utah State/Fremont: Played 17 snaps on special teams.
Cleveland 13, Pittsburgh 10
- Sione Takitaki, LB, BYU: Reserve linebacker had five tackles and a pass defended on defense.
- Mohamoud Diabate, LB, Utah: Reserve linebacker also played on special teams.
- Siaki Ika, DT, East (via Baylor): Inactive for Week 11.
- Jaylen Warren, RB, Utah State/Snow/East (via Oklahoma State): Reserve running back ran for 129 yards on nine carries, including a 74-yard touchdown, and caught three passes for 16 yards on offense.
- Miles Killebrew, S, Southern Utah: Reserve safety made one tackle on defense, one tackle on special teams.
Detroit 31, Chicago 26
- Penei Sewell, OT, Desert Hills (via Oregon): Started at right tackle on offense.
- Jaylon Johnson, CB, Utah: Starting defensive back had two tackles and a pass defended.
- Patrick Scales, LS, Utah State/Weber: Played eight snaps on special teams.
- Braxton Jones, OT, Southern Utah/Murray: Started at left tackle on offense.
- Noah Sewell, LB, Orem (via Oregon): Inactive for Week 11.
Green Bay 23, LA Chargers 20
- Jordan Love, QB, Utah State: Starting quarterback completed 27-of-40 passes for 322 yards with two touchdowns and three sacks taken on offense.
- Dallin Leavitt, S, Utah State/BYU: Reserve safety also played on special teams.
- Zayne Anderson, S, BYU/Stansbury: Reserve safety made one tackle on special teams.
- Michael Davis, CB, BYU: Starting cornerback had three tackles and a pass defended.
- Alohi Gilman, S, Orem (via Notre Dame): Starting safety totaled nine tackles and a tackle for loss on defense.
Houston 21, Arizona 16
- Dalton Schultz, TE, Bingham (via Stanford): Starting tight end caught three passes for 32 yards, including a 20-yard touchdown, on offense.
- Leki Fotu, DT Utah/Herriman: Starting nose tackle had four tackles, two tackles for loss and a sack on defense.
Jacksonville 34, Tennessee 14
- Devin Lloyd, LB, Utah: Starting linebacker posted a team-high 11 tackles on defense.
- No locals on the active roster.
Miami 20, Las Vegas 13
- No locals on the active roster.
- Andre James, C, Herriman (via UCLA): Started at center on offense.
NY Giants 31, Washington 19
- No locals on the active roster.
- Tyler Larsen, C, Utah State/Jordan: Started at center on offense.
San Francisco 27, Tampa Bay 14
- Fred Warner, LB, BYU: Starting linebacker posted a team-high 12 tackles, split a sack, defended two passes and forced a fumble on defense.
- Mitch Wishnowsky, P, Utah: Averaged 51.0 yards over three punts for 153 yards on special teams.
- Deven Thompkins, WR, Utah State: Reserve receiver caught one pass and ran one time for 17 yards on offense, fielded two punts for 64 yards with one fair catch and three kickoffs for 55 yards on special teams.
Buffalo 32, NY Jets 6
- Dalton Kincaid, TE, Utah: Starting tight end caught a team-high six passes for 46 yards on offense.
- Taron Johnson, CB, Weber State: Starting nickel made three tackles on defense before leaving with a concussion.
- Zach Wilson, QB, BYU/Corner Canyon: Starting quarterback completed 7-of-15 passes for 81 yards, a touchdown and an interception with five sacks taken and ran four times for 15 yards on offense.
LA Rams 17, Seattle 16
- Puka Nacua, WR, BYU/Orem: Starting wide receiver caught a team-high five passes for 70 yards, including a 4-yard touchdown, and ran once for 7 yards on offense.
- Jonah Williams, DE, Weber State: Starting defensive end totaled four tackles, a sack and a quarterback hit on defense.
- Bobby Wagner, LB, Utah State: Starting linebacker had 10 tackles and a tackle for loss on defense.
Thursday Night Football
Baltimore 34, Cincinnati 20
- Tyler Huntley, QB, Utah: Active, but did not play.
- Marcus Williams, S, Utah: Starting safety made seven tackles and two passes defended in 61 snaps on defense.
- Kyle Van Noy, EDGE, BYU: Reserve linebacker had two tackles and a sack in 24 snaps on defense.
- Jalen Davis, CB, Utah State: Reserve cornerback played two snaps on defense, 15 on special teams.
- Jay Tufele, DT, Bingham (via USC): Reserve defensive tackle played two snaps on defense, one on special teams.