Let’s get this out of the way right now: If you didn’t think the Rams vs. Chiefs Monday Night Football game was otherworldly awesome, then you are likely captain buzzkill. Yes, there were penalties. Yes, there were turnovers. But, there was also some of the best young talent in the sport engaged in an epic one-upping duel for 60 minutes. If you can’t get behind that, the rest of this article likely isn’t for you.
I truly have no idea how to capture the absurdity of what we witnessed last night. In the interest of not overreacting, I won't call it the greatest regular season game I have ever witnessed. But, in the interest of being correct, that was probably the greatest regular season game I have ever witnessed.
Kansas City at Los Angeles is up there with the Patriots vs. Broncos overtime thriller in 2013, the game when "Belichick took the wind." It's up there with the Eagles 4th quarter rally during the "Miracle at the Meadowlands 2." It will truly be one of the most memorable games I can remember watching.
It was between two teams who entered the night with identical 9-1 records, with young gunslingers airing it out, playmakers on both sides of the ball, defensive touchdowns for both teams, coaches with unique schemes and gameplans dialing up shot plays, shattered records, and in the end one of the most exhilarating, blood-pumping, heart racing, “Is this real life?” games of the season.
Looking back, we should have known from the start that the game would turn into a battle when the "Nature Boy," Ric Flair appeared on the sidelines:
Los Angeles would jump out to an early 13-0 lead behind the arm of Jared Goff. On his second touchdown pass of the first quarter, Goff found Josh Reynolds for a toe-tap catch along the boundary.
Reynolds, filling in for the injured Cooper Kupp, saw his first extended action of the season and finished with 6 receptions for 80 yards and a touchdown. A promising performance for the second-year wideout out of Texas A&M, as he will likely fill the WR3 role for the Rams down the stretch of the season.
Naturally, the Chiefs would respond right away. Tyreek Hill made his first of many game-changing plays, beating Sam Shields for a touchdown. This would become a theme throughout the night, as quarterback Patrick Mahomes would consistently target that matchup.
After exchanging field goals, the Chiefs defense would make their first big play of the night when Dee Ford forced a fumble of Jared Goff, and it would be recovered by Chiefs defensive lineman Allen Bailey.
Kansas City would take immediate advantage, dialing up a screen pass to Kareem Hunt that would go the distance. The play was a snippet of the schematic genius of Andy Reid, as jet motion and end around action would go towards the left only to have Hunt leak out to the right side behind a convoy.
It's almost weird to say in a game that would eventually end with 105 points scored, but this is the part of the program where we remind you that the best player on the field was on the defensive side. Heck, not only was he the best player on the field last night, Aaron Donald is the best player in the National Football League.
Donald would break through for a strip-sack that was scooped up by Samson Ebukam, who returned it for a touchdown. As a defensive tackle, this sack put Donald at 13.5 for the season.
Naturally, though, Patrick Mahomes would lead a scoring drive before the half. Kansas City kicker Harrison Butker would miss the extra point, to send the game to halftime tied 23-23. The first half lived up to the hype, but the game was just getting started.
Remember how I said Aaron Donald was the best player in the National Football League? Well, he would prove that once again on the first drive of the second-half.
Donald used a get-off out of his stance that looked like something out of a video game, and strip-sacked Patrick Mahomes again.
This put him at a league-leading 14.5 sacks on the season. During the broadcast, ESPN put up a graphic stating that Donald is double-teamed on over 70% of defensive snaps.
I have still yet to fully wrap my head around that. Double teamed almost 3/4 of the snaps he takes, but still leads the NFL is sacks from an interior defensive line position? Forget about Defensive Player of the Year. Donald needs to be a legitimate candidate for MVP.
The Rams would eventually capitalize on a Jared Goff scramble for a touchdown, but the Chiefs would strike right back.
Mahomes targeted all-pro tight end Travis Kelce on a play where he discarded defensive back Marcus Peters and got down inside of the 10. Mahomes would go back to Kelce for the touchdown on a rub route over the middle.
Peters has struggled this season, and it has been magnified in recent weeks as he's been exposed for scoring plays by the opposition.
Not to be outdone by Aaron Donald, Kansas City defensive lineman Chris Jones started his own take-over. On the ensuing Ram possession, he had a tackle for a loss and a sack to force a field goal. He would finish the game with 6 tackles and 2 sacks. Jones now has a sack in 7 straight games, including 9 total over that span.
Samson Ebukam would make possibly the most impressive play of the night. Fending off a blocks from right tackle Mitchell Schwartz, Ebukam saw Patrick Mahomes about to deliver a ball on an RPO pass read. Ebukam reacted, hauling in the pass while still engaged with Schwartz and scampering for his second touchdown of the game.
Ebukam became only the third player in NFL history to have both a scoop and score touchdown and a pick-six touchdown in the same game.
Remember how I mentioned that Kansas City would take advantage of the Sam Shields on Tyreek Hill matchup? Well, now faced with a 10 point deficit, that's exactly where Mahomes would look.
Mahomes unloaded a deep ball off of a play-action fake and found the wide open Hill, who had a burst of speed so quick and fluid that Shields fell down trying to cover it.
Once again, not to be outdone by the Rams defensive line forcing a scoop and score, the Chiefs defense would get one of their own. Allen Bailey would recover his second fumble of the night, this time remaining upright and trotting a few yards into the endzone to regain to lead for Kansas City.
While both defenses were giving up points, the splash plays to force turnovers and defensive touchdowns were a refreshing twist on the otherwise offensive display.
On a play that was seemingly an indication that Goff and Mahomes had entered an "anything you can do, I can do better" battle, Goff would uncork his own deep ball off of play-action and found Robert Woods downfield. This led to another Rams score and yet another lead change.
Naturally, Patrick Mahomes would lead a late scoring drive of his own to retake the lead for Kansas City. Remember that rub route that allowed Travis Kelce to score in the redzone? The Chiefs would go back to that well once more, getting Chris Conley the separation necessary to jog into the endzone.
Despite two fumbles, the lead changes, and some missed opportunities throughout the night, Jared Goff would deliver the best throw of the evening in a clutch moment to retake the lead for good.
Goff would put a high-arching pass on a dime to the outside shoulder of Gerald Everett for a 40-yard touchdown, a signature moment for the young signal-caller.
Earlier I mentioned how Marcus Peters' struggles in recent weeks have been magnified for big scoring plays by the opposition. Well, the former Chief would make amends for those miscues on the ensuing possession.
Samson Ebukan would make his presence felt once more, hitting the arm of Patrick Mahomes as he went to release a deep ball. Peters would gracefully find himself under the pass, corralling what could have been the game-sealing interception. Peters' has owned up to his recent poor play, and this truly felt like a moment that the former all-pro will use to elevate his confidence and performance.
This was the game that wouldn't quit, though. Kansas City would force a 3-and-out, highlighted by a pass breakup to stop the clock and save a valuable timeout. They would get the ball back with one more opportunity to extend the football game.
After a first down, Mahomes tried to do too much and ended up throwing into traffic. Lamarcus Joyner would track the ball and find himself underneath it, finally sealing the game for Los Angeles.
What made this game so remarkable were the playmakers on either side of the ball coming through in big moments. The offensive box score from this game could be framed in Canton, Ohio, but the defensive touchdowns will still be the moments that stick out.
MVP Candidates. Coach of the Year Candidates. Potential all-pros at running back, wide receiver, and tight end. Aaron Donald solidifying his candidacy for most-dominant-athlete-in-the-galaxy. This game had everything.
It was the best regular season game many of us have ever witnessed.
- Kansas City was issued the first 8 penalties of the game.
- Kansas City finished with 5 turnovers, all from the hands of Patrick Mahomes. They had total 13 penalties. They still finished with 51 points.
- This was the first game in NFL history that had both teams score over 50 points.
- This was the first time in NFL history that a team scored 50+ points and lost. Teams were previously 216-0 when scoring 50 or more points.
- Patrick Mahomes finished with a passer rating of 117.1. Jared Goff finished with a passer rating of 117.6.
- How could I possibly forget this block by Los Angeles right tackle Rob Havenstein: