Even with a career day, Cooper Kupp is not only Ram to receive accolades in win over Saints

Cooper Kupp sprinted down the sideline as Jared Goff dropped back and scanned the field.

Kupp blew past a defender and checked over his right shoulder, just as Goff delivered a deep pass.

Kupp’s 53-yard reception was one of a team-best — and career-high — eight the rookie made Sunday during the Rams’ 26-20 victory over the New Orleans Saints at the Coliseum.

A week after Kupp made a crucial error, fumbling the ball one yard from the end zone in a loss to the Minnesota Vikings, the Rams rookie amassed a career-high 116 yards.

“There are days when things can go your way and you make plays,” Kupp said, “and there are days where they don’t.”

Kupp led a receivers group that was playing without Robert Woods, the team leader in receptions who was sidelined because of a shoulder injury.

Sammy Watkins and rookie Josh Reynolds caught touchdown passes and helped Goff pass for 354 yards.

Goff said that he “never had any doubts” that Kupp would rebound from last week’s performance.

“He’s so level-headed and such a hard worker,” Goff said, adding, “That deep ball was a really, really good route by him in man coverage.”

Kupp, 24, was a selected in the third round of the draft after a record-setting career at Eastern Washington. Coach Sean McVay said Kupp has displayed maturity and growth, and that he plays with the mind-set of a quarterback.

“He’s just continuing to get better and better,” McVay said.

Throughout the practice week, McVay said that Woods would be replaced by committee.

Watkins, used almost exclusively as a deep threat the last several weeks, caught several mid-range throws and finished with four catches for 82 yards.

It was his most productive performance since catching six passes for 106 yards and two touchdowns in a September victory over the San Francisco 49ers.

“He takes pride in his blocks and when you have a receiver that does that you want to reward him and get him the ball,” Goff said.

Watkins also attempted a circus-like one-handed catch on a deep pass near the Saints sideline. Watkins inadvertently tapped the ball into cornerback P.J. Williams hands for an interception.

“I was trying to make an ESPN play and catch it with one hand,” Watkins said. “And it went bad.”

Watkins said that it “definitely felt different” on the field without Woods — his teammate for three seasons in Buffalo before both joined the Rams this season — but that younger players stepped up and coaches put together a game plan that “put us in great situations.”

“I’m not going to say it was easy, we just got the right looks, the right situations,” Watkins said. “We seen what was open and how the [defensive backs] were playing us and had a lot of great inside routes and we connected on them.”

Reynolds, a fourth-round pick from Texas A&M, made his first start in Woods’ place and caught four passes, including his first touchdown, which gave the Rams a 17-7 lead.

The Rams were at the Saints’ seven-yard line in the second quarter when Goff dropped back for that pass. Goff said it was “a little backyard ball,” improvising as the Saints rushed only three defenders.

“Most of the time when that happens, it’s going to be an off-schedule throw,” Goff said. “I saw him go over the ball over the middle and saw a linebacker on him with his back turned and kind of pointed to him, go that way.

“And sure enough he did and it was over.”

Reynolds smiled as he recalled the play and acknowledged that it was not designed for him.

“That’s probably one of the last plays I thought I’d ever get the ball on,” Reynolds said. “To be able to score a touchdown in your first start of a game and then to be able to win that game, it’s amazing.”

Said McVay: “You can see the movement, the athleticism. Josh has great length, great ball skills.”

Adding to the air attack were running back Todd Gurley, who caught four passes for 54 yards, and tight end Tyler Higbee, three for 48 yards.

lindsey.thiry@latimes.com

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