In their first game playing together, Matthew Stafford and Puka Nacua looked like they’d been teammates for five years. Their connection was evident in the Rams’ Week 1 win over the Seahawks, hooking up 10 times for a total of 119 yards.
Despite Nacua being a rookie, Stafford showed a great deal of trust in him by throwing 15 passes his way, continuing to target the first-year receiver despite his two drops.
There were a lot of impressive plays made by the two of them but one throw stands out above the rest. It’s not particularly close, either.
On third-and-8 in the fourth quarter, Stafford hit Nacua for a 21-yard gain on a corner route down the right side. The Rams were up 11 points at the time so it’s not as if the game was already over, making this reception all the more important and impressive.
Here’s a look at the play from the broadcast angle.
PUKA ARE YOU KIDDING!
Pretty spectacular right? It’s hard to tell from that view whether it was a better throw or catch because they were both fantastic. Nacua somehow managed to get his feet down by dragging them along the sideline, but the ball was in an absolutely perfect spot.
Seeing the throw from the end zone camera angle reflects even better on Stafford. Not only was it a long throw, but he made it with two defenders bearing down on him: one from the backside and one in his face.
Yet, Stafford didn’t flinch and threw a dime to Nacua all the way across the field where only his receiver could make a play.
Stafford with a beautiful throw on 3rd & 8 pic.twitter.com/5WdUmOAAn6
— Brandon Thorn (@BrandonThornNFL) September 11, 2023
From the all-22 camera angle, you can truly appreciate the timing of the play. Stafford winds up to throw when Nacua is just barely coming out of his break and he’s covered up by the defender pretty well.
Stafford trusts that the rookie will be where he’s supposed to when the ball arrives, and he certainly was.
What a perfect throw by Stafford and a terrific catch by Nacua.
Just remember…Matthew Stafford is "washed".
There are MAYBE three QBs in the NFL who can make this throw and Matthew Stafford is one of them.
It's a nice catch by Puka Nacua, but I'm not sure there's a camera angle that exists to show just how ridiculous this throw is. pic.twitter.com/iGJO698bD3
— Blaine Grisak 💭 (@bgrisakTST) September 12, 2023
It’s throws like this one that make it easy to believe Stafford will have a bounce-back season in 2023. The arm strength was there, the accuracy was great (except for one throw over the middle) and he looked extremely comfortable in the pocket.
If he can play like this every week, which is admittedly unrealistic to expect, the Rams will be in great shape on offense.