LOS ANGELES — Instant classic.
That pretty much sums up the much-hyped Monday night matchup that, well, lived up to the hype as the Los Angeles Rams outscored the Kansas City Chiefs 54-51 in undoubtedly the most wildly entertaining NFL offensive explosion ever staged at the historic Los Angeles Coliseum.
This, folks, is what the NFL wants you to see.
Fourteen touchdowns. A combined 1,001 yards. More than 100 points, with the final tally representing the most in "Monday Night Football" history and third-highest total in any game. Eight lead changes. Two ties. Suspense. Signature moments galore. And two spectacular 400-yard passers – Patrick Mahomes and Jared Goff – left standing at the end.
Mahomes threw for six touchdowns and 478 yards … and it still wasn’t enough. Not with three interceptions, including a pick-six, and two lost fumbles.
Then again, despite the turnovers, he still had a chance to win.
Goff, though, fired a 40-yard TD strike to Gerald Everett with 1:49 remaining – his fourth scoring pass – to provide the winning points.
And even that wasn’t a sure thing until the end.
Mahomes had two final chances to rally the Chiefs in the final two minutes, but each drive ended with interceptions on deep throws downfield. Marcus Peters intercepted Mahomes with 1:28 left, then Lamarcus Joyner sealed the outcome with a pick with 13 seconds remaining.
Here’s to hoping that you bet the “over.”
Shoot, the over/under projection of 64 points was eclipsed way back in the third quarter.
And when one of those high-flying offenses didn’t convert on third down, it just seemed plain weird.
So, too, was the fact that a defensive player, Rams linebacker Samson Ebukam, scored two touchdowns – one on an 11-yard fumble-return and the other on a 25-yard interception runback – in a game dominated by offense.
Then again, weird was a good thing in many ways in the first Monday night game in L.A. since 1979.
Three other things we learned or confirmed:
1. Mahomes is unflappable
Whenever it seemed like the Chiefs’ young gunslinger was poised to crack, he came back for more. Both times when Mahomes lost fumbles on strip-sacks, then again after throwing a pick-six, he responded by leading Kansas City on touchdown drives. And that was just one reflection of his resilience as the Chiefs trailed 13-0 early, then opened the fourth quarter in a 40-30 hole.
2. The "all-star" officiating crew clearly wanted a shootout
The ridiculous penalties against Kansas City defensive backs early in the game – especially a shoulder-to-shoulder unnecessary roughness call on an incompletion before the game’s first touchdown – set the tone. And the flags weren’t exactly flying both ways. By the end of the first quarter, the Chiefs were stung for 82 yards.
Not that some of the penalties weren’t deserved. But nor was the blatant miss of an incompletion to Tyler Higbee early in the third quarter – the ball bounced off the turf and into the hands of the Rams tight end as he rolled over during a fall – that boosted a go-ahead TD drive.
3. You can only hope to contain Aaron Donald
The Rams’ monster defensive tackle left his fingerprints all over the game – and Mahomes – while demonstrating how tough it will be for Khalil Mack to prevent him for repeating as the NFL’s defensive player of the year. Yes, there was some defense sprinkled within the offensive smorgasbord. After drawing a couple of holding penalties, No. 99 produced his first strip-sack of the game late in the second quarter to produce instant points. Ebukam picked up the loose football for an 11-yard walk-in TD return. Early in the third quarter, Donald smashed into Mahomes for a 16-yard sack-and-swat, recovered by linemate John Franklin-Myers to jump-start another TD drive.