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Former UW Husky Puka Nacua hurts Seahawks with 10 catches in first NFL game

It was a triumphant return to Seattle for Rams rookie receiver Puka Nacua.

Nacua, a former Washington Husky (2019-20), led the Los Angeles receiving corps with 10 catches for 119 yards and played a big part in the Rams’ 30-13 victory over the Seahawks on Sunday afternoon at Lumen Field.

“It was a dream come true,” Nacua said. “It couldn’t be any better than that to be able to come out with a win. It was a blast, and I had a ton of fun out there.”

No wonder, considering Nacua was the favorite target of Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford, getting 15 passes thrown his way.

Tyler Lockett has the defense beat, but the Geno Smith pass is just off his fingertips in the end zone in the second quarter, and the Seahawks would settle for a field goal on the drive.  The Los Angeles Rams played the Seattle Seahawks in NFL Football Sunday, Sept. 9, 20232 at Lumen Field, in Seattle, WA. 224948

“He did a great job,” Stafford said of Nacua. “We missed out on one [long pass attempt] that I know we’ll look at together and see what we can do to get that connected. But for the most part, he was in the right spot at the right time and his ability to catch and run afterward was on display today. We knew that was going to be there because he’s a big physical kid that understands the game.”

Nacua, 6 feet 3 and 205 pounds, came to Washington after being Utah’s high school player of the year in 2018.

He played in eight games as a true freshman for the Huskies in 2019, catching seven passes for 168 yards and two touchdowns.

Nacua played in all three games in the shortened 2020 season (because of the pandemic), catching nine passes for 151 yards and one touchdown. He won the Don James Perseverance Award at the team’s postseason awards banquet.

But he entered the transfer portal after that season, deciding to play for BYU in his hometown of Provo.

“My grandmother was diagnosed with ovarian cancer,” Nacua said about wanting to play close to home. “I made a lot of friendships [at UW] and I learned a lot about myself.”

Nacua, who said he still keeps in contact UW receivers Rome Odunze and Jalen McMillan and safety Asa Turner, caught 91 passes for 1,430 yards and 11 touchdown in two seasons at BYU.

Nacua also rushed for 357 yards and five touchdowns as a Cougar, but he wasn’t drafted until the fifth round (177th overall) this past spring.

When asked if his performance Sunday was an indication he should have been drafted higher, Nacua said, “Shoot, I’m just doing my job.”

Nacua said he wasn’t necessarily surprised by his production in his first game in the NFL.

“When the ball comes my way, I’ve got to make sure I come down with it,” Nacua said. “No. 9 [Stafford] always puts it in a great spot so it makes my job really easy.”

Nacua said the Rams “didn’t flinch” at halftime despite trailing 13-7.

“We were ready to go back out there, and prove and finish the things that we had started earlier,” he said.

The Rams finished all five of their second-half drives with a score and Nacua had one of the greatest days of his life.

“This is top three for sure,” he said. “I haven’t gotten married or have had a kid yet. So I’m saving those.”

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