There was the John Elway-Joe Montana duel at Mile High Stadium in 1994. Earl Campbell’s coming-out party against the Miami Dolphins. Peyton Manning’s Broncos out-gunning Tony Romo and the Cowboys 51-48. And the Bills-49ers “no punt game” in 1992.
Whatever list you had of the greatest regular-season games in NFL history needs to be rewritten after Monday night. The Los Angeles Rams’ unbelievable 54-51 win over the Kansas City Chiefs should be the new No. 1 on that list.
Everyone had this matchup circled for weeks, and somehow it surpassed the hype. It was the first time both teams in an NFL game scored 50 points. There were 1,001 yards. Both quarterbacks were dealing. There were big plays from each offense, and huge defensive plays as well. Superstars on both sides. Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald’s dominance. Patrick Mahomes throwing six touchdowns. Jared Goff throwing for four scores and running for another. A big fourth-down gamble by the Chiefs that paid off and led to a go-ahead score late in the fourth quarter. Then Goff hit Gerald Everett for 40 yards and his own go-ahead touchdown with 1:49 left.
Former Chief Marcus Peters picked off Mahomes and the game seemed over, but the Rams stayed aggressive and barely took any time off the clock. After a great 68-yard punt by Johnny Hekker (everyone was making plays), Mahomes fired a deep desperation pass and Lamarcus Joyner picked it off with 13 seconds left. It was too bad the game had to end.
The Rams came back to win, but who won and lost didn’t matter. It was a magnificent, incredible performance by two 9-1 teams, the best show the NFL can offer. Years from now, people will still be referencing “Rams 54, Chiefs 51” when we talk about the great NFL games of all time.
Both teams came out hitting big plays
Based on the start, it seemed like it wouldn’t be a classic. The Rams took an early 13-0 lead.
It turned out, we still had 92 points to go.
The Chiefs and Rams traded haymakers for the rest of the first half. The Rams got a defensive touchdown late in the half off of a Donald strip-sack. No matter. Mahomes calmly led a long drive that ended with an 8-yard touchdown to Chris Conley before halftime. That’s just how the game went. It was 23-23 at the half.
A 46-point first half? That was just a warmup for the second half.
Chiefs battle back to take a late lead
There were so many key moments in the second half, it’s hard to keep track of them all. The Rams took a 10-point lead on their second defensive touchdown of the night. But Mahomes hit Tyreek Hill for a 73-yard touchdown catch, then the Chiefs defense scored on a strip-sack of Goff to get the lead back.
The Rams answered. A long catch by Robert Woods set up a 7-yard touchdown by tight end Gerald Everett. It was impossible to even keep up with all the big plays.
With about five minutes left, the Chiefs made a bold call. On fourth-and-2 they went for it. It was better to trust Mahomes and the offense than hope the Rams wouldn’t go on a long drive. Mahomes hit Travis Kelce for the first down. A random helmet rule call against the Rams later in the drive set up a 10-yard touchdown to Conley, Mahomes’ sixth score. That gave the Chiefs a 51-47 lead and set the record for points in a “Monday Night Football” game, in the 773rd “MNF” game ever.
And still, the Rams had another shot to drive and win the game.
Rams put together a game-winning drive
With no timeouts, on their final chance to win the game, Goff hit Brandin Cooks on a third-and-9 for 22 yards to keep the drive going. Then with 1:49 left, Goff dropped in a perfect pass down the sideline to Everett, who barely stayed in bounds for a 40-yard score. It was the sixth lead change of the night.
For Goff, it was a fantastic clutch drive that will define him as one of the up-and-coming superstars of the NFL. His touchdown pass with the signature moment in a game that had so many of them.
“Unbelievable. Unbelievable,” Goff told ESPN’s Lisa Salters after the game. “Just four quarters of craziness.”
There was still more drama after Goff’s touchdown pass, but the Rams came out on top. Wouldn’t this be a fun rematch at the Super Bowl?
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