Clemson University

Can’t hold these Tigers: Former Clemson star receivers gouge NFL defenses Sunday

Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Sammy Watkins (12) just hangs on to a touchdown reception in the 1st half against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium.
Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Sammy Watkins (12) just hangs on to a touchdown reception in the 1st half against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium. USA TODAY

When Sammy Watkins and DeAndre Hopkins were teammates at Clemson, most opponents struggled slowing down the star receivers.

Although they play for different teams in the NFL these days, opposing defenses are still being burned by the former Tigers.

On Sunday, both Watkins and Hopkins scored sensational touchdowns. Watkins’ score was part of the Los Angeles Rams’ 51-17 shellacking of the New York Giants. Hopkins’ touchdown was the Texan’s lone offensive score in a tough-luck loss to the Indianapolis Colts.

Watkins, who is in his first season with the Rams after several injury-riddled seasons with the Buffalo Bills, only had one reception Sunday. But it might have been the most spectacular play of the day.

Watkins simply outran all of the Giants on the field for his 67-yard touchdown. In spite of recording just one catch, he was second on the team in receiving yards, behind Robert Woods’ 70.

Hopkins had more receptions and yards than his former wing man, recording six catches for 86 yards. Hopkins did his part to step up in the absence of rookie sensation Deshaun Watson. The former Clemson quarterback is out for the season with a torn ACL.

Houston struggled to get it’s offense going with backup Tom Savage in place of Watson. But Hopkins and Savage found a rhythm in the second half, and tried to mount a fourth-quarter rally.

That’s when Savage lofted a long pass that Hopkins hauled in, despite blanket coverage for a 34-yard touchdown reception. That pulled the Texans within six points, but their last-minute attempt to win fell short.

For the season, Hopkins is one of the best receivers in the NFL with 51 receptions for 692 yards and eight touchdowns.

Watkins is still acclimating himself with his new team, after joining the Rams late in the preseason. Watkins has 19 receptions for 331 yards and three touchdowns. Watkins is currently teammates with another former Palmetto State college star.

Former South Carolina Gamecocks star receiver Pharoh Cooper had a 9-yard catch for the Rams in the win over the Giants. Cooper, who scored the first touchdown of his NFL career earlier this season, gained 55 yards on three punt returns – including a 30-yard return.

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