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'It Means Everything': Rams WR Tutu Atwell Reflects on First Career TD

Los Angeles Rams wideout Tutu Atwell has endured a difficult two seasons in the NFL, but he checked a big box off the list during Sunday's 27-20 loss to the New Orleans Saints.

Los Angeles Rams second-year receiver Tutu Atwell lined up on the right side of the formation before motioning left, side-shuffling and taking off at the snap of the ball.

With New Orleans Saints veteran cornerback Chris Harris Jr. following him across the formation, Atwell knew he had man coverage.

"That was a route (where you) just beat the defender and get open and run over him," Atwell said.

The 2021 second-round pick checked all of the boxes.

Despite Harris playing off coverage with a hefty cushion, Atwell put his 4.32 40-yard dash speed to good use, blowing by the three-time All-Pro corner to create an inviting window for quarterback Matthew Stafford.

As he's done many times throughout his NFL career, Stafford delivered a well-placed ball that Atwell caught with only a slight break in his stride some 50 yards downfield. The former Louisville Cardinal did the rest, surviving Harris' last-ditch tackle attempt and gliding into the endzone.

It marked passing touchdown No. 332 of Stafford's 14-year career and gave the Rams a 7-3 lead late in the first quarter, neither of which is particularly noteworthy. But to Atwell, it was a play he'll remember for the rest of his life, as it was his first professional touchdown.

"It means everything," Atwell said. "It just means everything. I was so excited, we practiced it all week, Stafford threw it out there and I made the play."

Atwell revealed that he knew the ball was going his way before the snap. As he mentioned, the Rams practiced the play during the week, and the 23-year-old approached Stafford during the week with a simple message:

"I'm going to get it," Atwell said. "Just throw it out there."

Stafford did precisely that, connecting with Atwell for just the second time in his career; it's been a disappointing two seasons for the 5-9, 165-pound Florida native, who was taken No. 57 overall but failed to record a catch in his rookie year.

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But after a difficult adjustment period headlined by a move to Los Angeles and going from No. 1 wideout to reserve and occasional healthy scratch, Sunday served as a moment of normalcy for Atwell, who made a habit of beating defenders over the top during his high school and college tenures.

"It means a lot," Atwell said. "I'm used to things like that - I'm used to just going deep; that's what I do. It's just another touchdown, another catch."

On the surface, Atwell's exactly right - it was a first-quarter touchdown reception in a road game between a pair of three-win teams in late November.

But underneath, it was the realization of a dream and served as validation of all the hard work that led to that moment. Better yet, it marked a glimmer of promise in an otherwise dark day - and year - for the Rams, not just for Atwell but for the Rams brass who invested a top-60 pick on his services.

Call it just another catch or call it a symbol of hope; to Atwell, it simply means everything.

You can follow Daniel Flick on Twitter @DFlickDraft

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