In a game that that more than exceeded expectations, the Los Angeles Rams defeated the Kansas City Chiefs 54-51 in a game where the teams traded touchdowns and big defensive plays for a full sixty minutes.
The Chiefs won the toss — for the first time in a row — and deferred to the second half.
Starting at their own 25 after a touchback, the Rams got five on a Todd Gurley run to the outside. Then Jared Goff tried Robert Woods short on the right sideline. Orlando Scandrick knocked the ball away, but was called for a questionable defensive pass interference penalty. On the next play, Goff hit Brandin Cooks in stride on a crossing route, and Cooks found enough space to turn it into a 30-yard gain that put the Rams at the Chiefs 26-yard line.
A short pass and an off-tackle run from Gurley put the Rams inside the red zone. Then Goff tried Woods again. Eric Murray broke up the play, but was called for unnecessary roughness — another questionable call that put the Rams at the seven-yard line with a first down. On the next play, Goff found Woods open in the end zone for the firswt touchdown of the game. Greg Zuerlein’s extra point attempt was no good, and the Rams led 6-0 with only three minutes elasped.
Tremon Smith returned the ensuing kickoff 28 yards, setting the Chiefs up at their own 29. On the first play — a handoff to Kareem Hunt that was stopped for no gain — Demetrius Harris was penalized for a block above the waist. Mahomes found Sammy Watkins for a four-yard gain, and then Chris Conley for another 11 that brought up third and three. On the next snap, Cam Erving was called for a false start, and Mahomes couldn’t connect with Travis Kelce on third and eight, forcing a punt.
Starting at their 17, the Rams went with a pass to Tyler Higbee good for five yards. Then Steven Nelson was called for illegal use of hands defending a pass to Cooks, giving the Rams a first down. After throwing incomplete to Cooks, Goff found Josh Reynolds for a 14-yard gain, and Higbee for 16 yards. That put the Rams past midfield. Then — with virtually no pressure from the Chiefs —- Gurley found Woods all alone on the left sideline, and the Rams racked up another 25 yards.
Now inside the red zone again, the Rams tried a run to Gurley that Kendall Fuller turned into a one-yard loss. And incompletion to Woods brought up third and long, but Dee Ford was called for a neutral zone infraction, and Goff’s six-yard pass to Cooks was enough for another first down. Derrick Nnadi was called for encroachment on the next snap — the seventh enforced against the Chiefs in eight minutes of play — and two plays later, Goff completed a four-yard pass to Reynolds for another touchdown. The Rams then led 13-0 with 5:35 remaining in the first quarter.
Staring at their own 25 after a return from Smith, the Chiefs got three yards on a completion to Kelce. Then Hunt broke free for a 27-yard gain on an inside run, and Mahomes found Tyreek Hill for a 20-yard gain. On the next play, the Rams failed to account for Hill, who beat his man to the end zone to catch a 27-yard pass for the Chiefs’ first score of the game. That made the score 13-7 Rams with 3:25 to go in the first quarter.
SHOWTIME ➡️CHEETAH— Kansas City Chiefs (@Chiefs) November 20, 2018
TOUCHDOWN, KANSAS CITY pic.twitter.com/T53qkJeWl6
Starting at their own 16 after a 19-yard kickoff return, the Rams got a first down with a short run by Malcolm Brown and a 15-yard completion to Reynolds. On the next play, Nelson was called for pass interference on a deep pass to Cooks, which gave the Rams a 37-yard gain and a first down at the Chiefs 30-yard line. A completion to Higbee and a off-tackle run by Brown put the Rams in the red zone. Another pass to Reynolds — this one good for 11 — put the Rams at the six-yard line.
After Brown was stopped for a one-yard gain and Goff was unable to connect with Reynolds, the Rams were facing third and goal at the Chiefs’ five. Eric Murray was called for pass interference when defending a pass to Gerald Everett in the end zone. But the ball appeared to have been tipped by the Chiefs, so Andy Reid threw the challenge flag. The penalty was overturned, and the Rams had to settle for a 23-yard field goal that extended their lead to 16-7 with only seconds elapsed in the second quarter.
Starting at the 25 after a touchback, the Chiefs went to Hunt for a three-yard carry and a five-yard pass. Then Mahomes hit Hill for a deep pass good for 26 yards that put the Chiefs at the Rams 41. After an incompletion to Kelce, Mahomes found Hill again on the left sideline for a 17-yard gain. Hunt gained six off-tackle to put the Chiefs in the red zone, and then Mahomes found Conley for a 17-yard gain that was nullified by a holding penalty on Erving.
Mahomes came back with a pass to Hunt good for 15 yards, and then was sacked for a one-yard loss. But a defensive holding call on Troy Hill nullified the play, and put the Chiefs at first and goal at the eight-yard line. Hunt was able to gain a yard up the middle, and then Mahomes ran for six, bringing up third and goal. On the next play, Hunt lost a yard, and the Chiefs had to settle for 20-yard field goal, making the score 16-10 with 8:09 remaining in the half.
On the next drive, the Chiefs defense awoke from its slumber.
After a five-yard Gurley rush put the Rams at their own 30, Goff was sacked on two consectuive plays — first by an unblocked Xavier Williams, and next by Allen Bailey, who stripped the ball and recovered the ball the Rams 21-yard line.
One play later, Mahomes found Hunt with a screen pass to the right, and Hunt ran to the end zone, putting the Chiefs ahead 17-16 with 6:28 remaning.
KAREEM— Kansas City Chiefs (@Chiefs) November 20, 2018
And we take the lead pic.twitter.com/hR2HEVFgOG
Starting at their own 10 after being called for holding on the kickoff, the Rams tried again. Gurley picked up four yards off-tackle, and then Goff hit Cooks with a pass good for 21. But then the drive stalled after another four-yard handoff to Gurley and a pair of incompletions — one of them featuring a big third down pass defensed from Fuller. That forced a Rams punt — their first of the game.
Hill had a 19-yard return on the punt, but Josh Lucas was penalized for a block above the waist, which pushed the Chiefs back to their own three-yard line to start the drive.
Hunt gained three up the middle to start the drive, and then a pair of short passes to Hill gave the Chiefs first down at their 20. Hunt gained two yards at the two-minute warning sounded. But when play resumed, disaster struck. Aaron Donald sacked Patrick Mahomes for a ten-yard loss, and forced a fumble. The Rams’ Samson Ebukam scopped up the loose ball and rumbled into the end zone, giving the Rams a 23-17 lead with jsut 1:50 remaining in the half.
Smith got another nice kickoff return, starting the Chiefs at their 31. Two short passes to Kelce and one to Conley gave the Chiefs a first down. Then Mahomes found Kelce open deep down the middle of the field and completed a 37-yard pass that put the Chiefs at the Rams 14. The Chiefs called their last timeout with 34 seconds remaining.
Mahomes picked up six yards on a scramble, and then tried Kelce in the end zone that was ruled incomplete. But it didn’t matter. On the next play, Mahomes hit Conley with an eight-yard touchdown pass to tie the game — Harrison Butker missed the extra point attempt — with just 20 seconds remaining.
throw— Kansas City Chiefs (@Chiefs) November 20, 2018
TOUCHDOWN, KANSAS CITY! pic.twitter.com/VKXbv8mivY
The Rams knelt after the touchback, and the half ended with the teams tied 23-23.
Smith returned the second half kickoff 28 yards, putting the Chiefs in business at their 29-yard line. On first play, Conley broke a tackle on a short pass to the right sideline, and ran for a 27-yard gain to the Rams 41. Hunt gained three inside, and on the next play, Mark Barron was called for holding on an incompletion to Kelce. Donald was called for illegal use of hands on the next play, giving the Chiefs a first down at the Los Angeles 25.
But then the Rams’ defensive fortunes turned. Donald blindsided Mahomes for an 11-yard loss, and Mahomes lost the ball. After several players from both teams got their hands on it, the Rams’ John Franklin-Myers finally covered it at the Kansas City 46.
A pair of incompletions brought up third and 10, and Goff’s nine-yard pass to Reynolds wasn’t enough. Facing fourth and one at the Chiefs 37, the Rams elected to go for it. Goff’s seven-yard completion to Higbee was enough for the first down — and although Anthony Hitchens forced a fumble, Higbee was able to recover.
Goff then found Higbee for a 15-yard completion that put the Rams in the red zone. Two plays later, Goff escaped the pocket under pressure and found daylight, scoring on a seven-yard scramble. That gave the Rams a 30-23 lead with 10:52 remaining in the third quarter.
Smith’s 33-yard kickoff return started the Chiefs at their own 36. A five-yard rush from Hunt and a seven-yard completion to Conley gave the Chiefs a first down. Hunt gained nine around right end, and then five on an inside run. After a pass to Hill across the middle was knocked away, Mahomes found Kelce with a short pass that the big tight end was able to turn into a 33-yards gain to the Rams five-yard line. Two plays later, Mahomes found Kelce with a four-yard touchdown pass to make the score 30-30 with 7:09 remaining in the third quarter.
After an 18-yard kickoff return — and an unnecessary roughness penalty on Anthony Sherman, the Rams started their next drive at their 35. A short pass to Gurley gained 17 yards and put the Rams across midfield. Another one gained 13. Then Goff was unable to connect with Woods, and Chris Jones blew up a handoff to Gurley for a one-yard loss, That brought up third and 11, but Goff was able to find Cooks for a 13-yard gains to the Chiefs 21.
Two plays later, Jones sacked Goff for a three-yard loss — marking his eight consecutive game with a sack — which brought up third and nine. Justin Houston stopped Gurley for a five-yard gain, and forced a 33-yard field goal that gave the Rams a 33-30 lead with 2:29 to go in the third quarter.
After a touchback, things immediately went badly for the Chiefs. On the first play, Mahomes’ pass was batted by Ebukam, and it fell into his hands. The defensive lineman rumbled 25 yards for his second touchdown of the night, and the Rams led 40-30.
Smith turned in yet another good kickoff return marred by a penalty when Spencer Ware was called for an illegal block above the waist. That started the Chiefs at their 24-yard line. Hunt gained a yard around right end, and then Mahomes was sacked for a six-yard loss while attempting to throw. The Rams thought the incomplete pass was a live ball and ran it in for an apparent touchdown, but the touchdown replay correctly identified it as an incomplete pass. But it still brought up third and nine, and Mahomes wasn’t able to connect with Hill on the next play, forcing a Chiefs punt.
Starting at their 34, the Rams immediately moved across midfield with an inside run by Gurley that he broke for a 24-yard gain. Goff then hit Gurley for an 11-yard gain, but it was nullified by a holding penalty against Andrew Whitworth. Then the Chiefs blitzed, but Jones was still the first to get there, sacking Goff for a ten-yard loss. An incompletion to Cooks and a two-yard gain by Gurley weren’t enough to escape second and 30, and the Rams punted.
The next Chiefs possession went by in a flash. Starting at their own nine, the Chiefs got a seven-yard completion to Kelce and another to Hill good for 11. But on the next play, Hill got all the way behind the Rams secondary, and Mahomes hit him with a 73-yard touchdown pass that narrowed the score to 40-37 with 12:04 remaining.
The Rams’ next drive went by even faster. Starting at the 15, Gurley was stopped for a one-yard loss, and Goff was unable to connect with Woods on a deep pass. On the next play, Justin Houston strip-sacked Goff at his own four, and Allen Bailey scooped up the ball and ran it in for a touchdown. That put the Chiefs in the lead 44-40 with 11:07 remaining.
The Rams began their next drive at the 25 after a touchback, and after starting with a five yard handoff to Gurley, reeled off two big plays in a row — a short pass to Reynolds that was good for 27 yards, and a deep pass to Woods that went for 37 and put the Rams at the Kansas City seven-yard line. Goff was unable to connect on the first two downs, but on third down, he found Everett in the end zone, and the Rams took a 47-44 lead with 9:36 left.
After a touchback, the Chiefs went three and out after Kelce couldn’t bring in a third down pass. The Rams responded with another three and out when Fuller held Cooks just short of the sticks on third down.
Getting at ball at their own 35 with 6:33 remaining, the Chiefs got four yards with Hunt around around the right end, and then Ebukam sacked Mahomes for a three-yard loss. Mahomes had to scramble on third and nine, but gained only seven. Now at fourth and two at their 43, the Chiefs decided to go for it — and Mahomes found Kelce for an 18-yard gain that put the Chiefs across midfield. On the next play, Mahomes — under pressure — was tripped up running for daylight up the middle, and gained only two yards.
Mahomes then hit Demarucus Robinson for a 14-yard gain, and then found Harris for three more. On that play, Troy Hill was penalized for lowering his head to initiate contact, which moved the Chiefs to the Rams 10-yard line. On the next play, Mahomes hit Conley with a short pass to the right, and Conley ran it in for a touchdown. The Chiefs then led 51-47 with 2:47 left.
Starting at their 25, the Rams got a yard when Goff had to scramble. On the next play, he was nearly intecepted when Scandrick broke up a pass intended for Reynolds. But on third and nine, Goff found Cooks for 22 yards, and two plays after that, completed a 40-yard pass to Everett, who danced just inside the sideline for a touchdown that gave the Rams a 54-51 lead with just 1:49 remaining.
A 28 kickoff return from Smith put the Chiefs at the 26-yard line. Hunt couldn’t bring in a pass in the left flat. Mahomes couldn’t connect with Robinson in the middle. But on third down, Hill made a spectacular spinning catch good for a 26-yard gain, and the Chiefs were across midfield.
But on the next play, Mahomes was hit while throwing, and Marcus Peters — who else? — intercepted the wounded duck, returning the ball to the Los Angeles 35 with 1:18 left.
The Rams got into trouble immediately with a false start called on Whitworth. Three passes got them nowhere, and they had to punt.
Starting at their own 12 — with one time out remaining and just 50 seconds on the clock — the Chiefs managed to get a first down. But that would be all she wrote for this game. With 25 seconds left, Mahomes deep pass for Hill was intercepted by Lamarcus Joyner, and the Rams escaped with a 54-51 win.
For the Chiefs, Patrick Mahomes threw for 478 passing yards and six touchdowns, completing 33 of 46 with three interceptions. His passer rating for the game was 117.6. He was sacked three times.
Jared Goff was 31 of 49 for 413 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions — with a nearly identical 117.1 passer rating. The Chiefs sacked him five times.
Tyreek Hill led Chiefs receivers with 215 yards and two touchdowns on 10 catches. Travis Kelce caught 10 passes for 127 yards and a touchdown, and Chris Conley caught seven for 74 yards and two touchdowns.
Kareem Hunt gained 70 yards rushing on 14 attempts, plus 41 yards and a touchdown on three catches. As a whole, the Chiefs gained 98 rushing yards on 20 attempts.
The Rams’ Todd Gurley had 55 yards rushing on 12 attempts, plus 39 yards on three catches.
Safety Eric Berry, center Mitch Morse, wide receiver Gehrig Dieter, running back Darrel Williams, offensive lineman Kahlil McKenzie, defensive lineman Justin Hamilton and tight end Deon Yelder were all inactive for the game.
The Chiefs have their bye week in Week 12, and will have a nice long rest before facing the Oakland Raiders on the road on Sunday, December 2 — the first of two December games against the Raiders. Kickoff is scheduled for 3:05 pm Arrowhead Time.
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Thank you all for your cooperation. — Pete Sweeney