Cooper Kupp heads into the 2022 season as arguably the best receiver in the NFL, coming off a historic 2021 campaign that is arguably the best for any pass catcher in league history. What Kupp was able to accomplish last season catapulted the Los Angeles Rams to Super Bowl champions -- capping a dominant year that will go into the league record books.
Kupp won the receiving triple crown, becoming the fourth player since the merger to lead the league in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns in a season. Not only did Kupp lead the league in each of these categories, he dominated his competition in each of these categories -- setting himself up for one of the greatest seasons for a pass catcher ever.
How dominant was Kupp as a pass catcher in 2021? In the first edition of "By The Numbers" for the 2022 season, let's take a deep dive into Kupp's greatness from the previous season.
NFL receptions leaders -- 2021 season
- Cooper Kupp (Rams) -- 145
- Davante Adams (Packers) -- 123
- Tyreek Hill (Chiefs) -- 111
- Justin Jefferson (Vikings) -- 108
- Mark Andrews (Ravens) -- 107
- Diontae Johnson (Dolphins) -- 107
NFL receiving yards leaders -- 2021 season
- Cooper Kupp (Rams) -- 1,947
- Justin Jefferson (Vikings) -- 1,616
- Davante Adams (Packers) -- 1,553
- Ja'Marr Chase (Bengals) -- 1,455
- Deebo Samuel (49ers) -- 1,405
NFL receiving TD leaders -- 2021 season
- Cooper Kupp (Rams) -- 16
- Mike Evans (Buccaneers) -- 14
- Ja'Marr Chase (Bengals) -- 13
- DK Metcalf (Seahawks) -- 12
- Davante Adams (Packers) -- 11
Kupp joined Jerry Rice (1990), Sterling Sharpe (1992) and Steve Smith (2005) as the only players to win the triple crown since the merger -- yet he was able to win the triple crown convincingly.
Kupp was 22 receptions ahead of Adams for most receptions. In comparison, Rice (100 catches) was 18 receptions ahead of Andre Rison (82) when he won his triple crown, while Sharpe (108 catches) was 15 ahead of Rison (93) in 1992. Smith was tied with Anquan Boldin with 103 receptions, making Kupp the first outright triple crown winner since Sharpe in 1992.
Receiving yards is where Kupp significantly separates himself from the other triple crown winners. Kupp finished 331 yards ahead of Jefferson to take the receiving yards title. In comparison, Rice (1,502 yards) finished 208 yards ahead of Henry Ellard (1,294) in 1990 while Sharpe (1,461 yards) finished 65 yards ahead of Michael Irvin (1,396) in 1992. Smith (1,483 yards) finished 80 yards ahead of Santana Moss (1,483) for the receiving yards crown in 2005.
Kupp had the most receiving touchdowns (16) for any triple crown winner since the merger. Rice had 13 touchdowns in 1990, three more than Rison (10). Sharpe had 13 in 1992, two more than Rison (11). Smith tied Marvin Harrison in touchdown catches (12) in 2005.
While Kupp had the most dominant season of the triple crown winners since the merger, that was just the beginning of his brilliance in the 2021 season. Including the playoffs, what Kupp was able to accomplish is unrivaled by any player in league history.
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Most receptions in a season -- NFL history (including playoffs)
- Cooper Kupp (Rams) -- 178 (2021)
- Michael Thomas (Saints) -- 156 (2019)
- Stefon Diggs (Bills) -- 147 (2020)
- Marvin Harrison (Colts) -- 147 (2002)
- Antonio Brown (Steelers) -- 143 (2015)
Most receiving yards in a season -- NFL history (including playoffs)
- Cooper Kupp (Rams) -- 2,425 (2021)
- Larry Fitzgerald (Cardinals) -- 1,977 (2008)
- Jerry Rice (49ers) -- 1,965 (1995)
- Calvin Johnson (Lions) -- 1,964 (2012)
- Antonio Brown (Steelers) -- 1,953 (2015)
Most receiving TD in a season -- NFL history (including playoffs)
- Randy Moss (Patriots) -- 24 (2007)
- Cooper Kupp (Rams) -- 22 (2021)
- Jerry Rice (49ers) -- 22 (1989)
- Rob Gronkowski (Patriots) -- 20 (2011)
- Davante Adams (Packers) -- 20 (2020)
Kupp is the only player to ever record 2,000 receiving yards in a season in the 102-year history of the NFL, which is incredible given how consistent he was throughout the year. He finished the 2021 season averaging 115.5 yards per game, joining Calvin Johnson (122.8), Julio Jones (116.9) and Jerry Rice (115.5) as the only players to average more than 115 receiving yards per game in a season in NFL history.
Using just regular-season statistics, Kupp finished with the second-most receptions (Michael Thomas had 149 in 2018) and receiving yards (Calvin Johnson had 1,964 in 2011) in a single season in NFL history. He had 90-plus receiving yards in 16 of 17 games in 2021, including 13 straight contests -- the longest streak in NFL history.
Kupp was far from finished with his 2021 accolades, cementing the greatest season for a pass catcher in the playoffs. In addition to winning AP Offensive Player of the Year, Kupp was named Super Bowl MVP after having eight catches for 92 yards and two touchdowns, including the game-winning touchdown reception, in the Super Bowl LVI victory over the Cincinnati Bengals.
Kupp finished with a record 33 catches in the postseason, and his 478 receiving yards in playoffs were the second-most in a single postseason in NFL history. His six playoff touchdowns were tied with Rice for the second-most in a postseason in NFL history.
Kupp joined Rice as the only players in NFL history to win AP Offensive Player of the Year, the receiving triple crown and Super Bowl MVP -- accomplishing all three in just one season (the only player to ever accomplish that feat in one year). His 27 receptions in the red zone were tied with Michael Thomas (2019) and Davante Adams (2020) for the most in a season, and his 846 yards after the catch and 89 first-down receptions are the fifth-most for any player in NFL history. Kupp also had 23 catches of 25-plus yards in 2021 -- the most for any player in a season.
As historic as Kupp's 2021 season was, he can make even more history in 2022. Let's start with the triple crown winners in NFL history and go from there.
Receiving triple crown winners -- NFL history
Ray Flaherty (Giants)
1936, 1941, 1942, 1943, 1944
Don Hutson (Packers)
Elroy Hirsch (Rams)
Pete Pihos (Eagles)
Raymond Berry (Colts)
Johnny Morris (Colts)
|1965||Dave Parks (49ers)|
|1966||Lance Alworth (Chargers)|
|1990||Jerry Rice (49ers)|
|1992||Sterling Sharpe (Packers)|
|2005||Steve Smith (Panthers)|
|2021||Cooper Kupp (Rams)|
If Kupp captures the triple crown again, he'll become the first player since Hutson to capture the honor twice. Hutson is the only player in league history to win the receiving triple crown multiple times, capturing the honor five times.
Kupp can become the fourth player since the merger to lead the league or tie for the lead in touchdown receptions in consecutive seasons, joining Jerry Rice (1986-1987, 1989-1991), Terrell Owens (2001-2002) and Larry Fitzgerald (2008-2009). Kupp led the NFL with 16 touchdown receptions last year. Owens is the last player to lead the NFL in receiving touchdowns outright in consecutive seasons.
Kupp also needs at least five receptions in each of his first three games to surpass DeAndre Hopkins (23 consecutive games from 2018-2020) for the second-longest such streak in NFL history. Only Antonio Brown (36 games from 2013-2015) has a longer streak. Since Week 13 of the 2020 season, Kupp has at least five receptions in 21 consecutive games. If Kupp has five-plus receptions in his first 16 games, he'll break Brown's record.
There's so much more history at stake for Kupp in 2022, as he cemented his place with the greatest season for a pass catcher in NFL history. Kupp may never reach those 2021 numbers again, but there's still plenty for the 29-year-old standout to accomplish.