Here are the game’s winner and losers:
- The first winner is fans and followers of football, collectively. The Chiefs-Rams matchup was billed as can’t-miss since it was announced on the schedule this offseason, and it lived up to all the hype. The Rams (54) and Chiefs (51) combined for 105 points in the game, the most of any game in Chiefs franchise history, as well as the most combined points in Monday Night Football history. The Chiefs came up short, but it was a game NFL fans will never forget.
- Patrick Mahomes is 23. Jared Goff is 24. Both looked like they will be starting quarterbacks in the NFL for a very, very long time on Monday night. Mahomes finished 33 of 46 for 478 yards, six touchdowns and three interceptions in the Chiefs loss. With his ninth game of 300-plus yards or more, Mahomes stands alone in franchise history, surpassing Trent Green, who had eight. Mahomes’ six touchdowns in the game give him 37 on the year. Only one quarterback in NFL history has more touchdown passes through 11 games—Tom Brady in 2007 (38). Because of Mahomes’ three interceptions and two lost fumbles, I believe Goff won the quarterback battle on Monday night. Goff finished 31 of 49 for 413 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions.
- Tyreek Hill finished the Monday night game with a career-high in receptions (10) and yards (215). Hill’s 215 receiving yards in the game were the second-highest in a single game in Chiefs history, only behind Stephone Paige in 1985. Hill now has 1,106 yards on the year and has passed the 1,000-yard mark for the second consecutive season. I have said it many times, but there are things Hill can do on the football field that many other in the league simply can’t, and he only continues to get better as a receiver.
- Despite a key drop late and a few others, Travis Kelce finished second for the Chiefs in receiving yardage with 10 catches for 127 yards Monday night. His touchdown adds to his career-high of seven and counting on the season. Kareem Hunt also had a solid game, finishing with 111 yards from scrimmage and a 21-yard touchdown.
- In the absence of Sammy Watkins, who played but came out shortly after the game began, Chris Conley performed exceptionally well. Conley caught seven of his eight targets for 74 yards and two touchdowns, including a rocket from Mahomes on his first score.
- Allen Bailey was a star for the Chiefs along the defensive line. Bailey recorded a sack for his sixth of the season (a career-high), causing Goff to fumble in the process. Bailey recovered the loose ball and the Chiefs scored a 21-yard touchdown on the next play. Justin Houston caused a Goff fumble later in the game that Bailey recovered and took in for a two-yard score and a 44-40 Chiefs lead at the time.
- Chris Jones recorded 2.0 sacks of Goff and has recorded at least one sack in seven straight games. Jones had six solo tackles and four quarterback hits in the game and now has 9.0 sacks on the season. Xavier Williams also had a sack in the game.
- Congratulations are in order for right tackle Mitch Schwartz, who now has 7,000 consecutive snaps to start his career. Schwartz has started in 107 consecutive games.
- I thought the Chiefs run-stoppers, as a whole, did a nice job preventing Rams running back Todd Gurley from taking over the game. The Chiefs held the dynamic Gurley, who may have been a little hurt, to just 55 yards on 12 rushing attempts and three catches for 39 yards.
- When it came to the Rams, I thought the pick-six play by Rams outside linebacker Samson Ebukam was unbelievable. Aaron Donald had two strip-sacks of Mahomes, who I think has done a nice job protecting the ball this season. Understanding this will likely be an unpopular opinion, I thought the pick by Marcus Peters, even when considering his tough season, provided a little bit of poetic justice. Peters was a very good player for the Chiefs who noted this week he did not ask to be traded away when Kansas City suddenly dealt him for draft picks this offseason.
- I really noticed three players being picked on by opposing offenses—Chiefs cornerback Orlando Scandrick and Rams cornerback Sam Shields early in the game and Chiefs safety Daniel Sorensen later on.
- If Sammy Watkins had to be pulled early due to the foot injury, the team’s personnel staff probably shouldn’t have let him play at all. The silver lining when it comes to Watkins is that this is now the Chiefs’ bye, so by taking him off his feet, perhaps he will be ready to go once activities resume in a week’s time.
- On a night the NFL supposedly hired an “all-star” officiating crew, the officials were unacceptable. The Chiefs took nine penalties before the Rams took one in the game, and it seemed like they were unnecessarily calling the game tight. Part of the reason might have been that they haven’t worked with each other before, something the NFL may want to consider before doing something so unprecedented again.
- The Chiefs are losers here (obviously), but I am adding the team as a whole on Monday night because they were just a play or two (I recall two potential interceptions and a dropped first down, especially) away from winning this game. Monday night’s margin for error will be similar in the playoffs. If you’re a fan of Kansas City, the hope is that they learn and grow rather than suffering a similar fate.