That. Was. Nuts.
The most anticipated regular season game in recent memory didn’t just meet the hype. It exceeded it. Vegas set the game total for Monday night’s Chiefs/Rams showdown at 64, the highest we’ve seen in the NFL since 1986. It was way too low.
The highest-scoring game in the 48-year history of Monday Night Football went to the Rams, who outlasted the visiting Chiefs in a thrilling, 54-51 victory in front of a raucous crowd at the Los Angeles Coliseum. Believe it or not, the Coliseum wasn’t even the original host site for Monday’s madness. This battle of division leaders was supposed to be played at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City, but due to unsafe playing conditions on the stadium’s torn-up field (a Shakira concert was reportedly the culprit), the game was moved to L.A.
And boy did the City of Angels luck out. Monday’s thriller featured a ridiculous 14 touchdowns. Incredibly, none of them were scored by Todd Gurley, who watched his 13-game regular-season touchdown streak come to an end despite contributing a respectable 94 yards from scrimmage on 15 touches. While Gurley took a backseat, Jared Goff let it rip, torching the Chiefs for 413 yards and five touchdowns (four passing, one rushing), none bigger than his go-ahead score to Gerald Everett with 1:49 remaining. That was one of two touchdowns on the night for the tight end, who saved his best for last with a 40-yard explosion to put the game on ice.
Everett’s end-zone visit came mere moments after the Chiefs pulled ahead 51-47 on a 10-yard touchdown from Chris Conley, who chipped in with seven grabs for 74 yards and two scores in Monday night’s slugfest. Conley took on an added workload with Sammy Watkins (five offensive snaps) hampered by a foot injury. It’s surprising Watkins was out there at all after barely practicing during the week, though maybe he talked Andy Reid into letting him play, if only for a handful of snaps, against his former team.
Goff was stupendous, as was second-year wideout Josh Reynolds, who rolled to a career-high 80 yards on six catches while adding his third touchdown of the season. Reynolds isn’t a name familiar to most fantasy owners, but maybe he should be. With Cooper Kupp (ACL) done for the year, the 2017 fourth-rounder will be locked into three-wide sets for the foreseeable future. Reynolds is still a notch (edit: several notches) below Brandin Cooks and Robert Woods in the Rams’ pecking order, but after his star turn Monday night, the 23-year-old can probably count on more targets in the future.
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The Chiefs joined in on the fun by producing an incredible 546 yards of offense with most of them coming courtesy of Patrick Mahomes’ turbo-charged right arm. Mahomes committed a number of costly turnovers in Monday’s defeat, but he also had his moments of brilliance, submitting 478 yards passing (a career-high) along with six touchdown throws. Two of those went to third-year speed demon Tyreek Hill, who embarrassed the Rams for 215 yards on 10 catches. With Marcus Peters glued to Travis Kelce, Tyreek spent most of his evening jostling with Sam Shields downfield. Shields never stood a chance in that matchup as Hill blazed his way to touchdowns of 23 and 75 yards. That gives Hill four touchdowns in his last two games and 11 for the season, which ties him with Pittsburgh’s Antonio Brown for the league-lead in that stat. The dynamic 24-year-old now needs just 78 yards over his final five games (that’s 35 fewer than he had in the second half Monday night) to achieve a new career-high in receiving yards.
Mahomes is also knocking on history’s door with his 37 touchdown passes, which is already a Chiefs franchise record. He still needs 19 touchdowns to top Peyton Manning’s NFL high-water mark of 55 and 20 if he wants ketchup for life. The prolific signal-caller finds himself right in the thick of this year’s MVP debate, though he wasn’t perfect by any stretch Monday night. Mahomes made an uncharacteristic number of mistakes, committing five turnovers including a career-worst three interceptions. Two of those miscues were returned for touchdowns, both scored by second-year linebacker Samson Ebukam.
Despite the scoreboard annihilation provided by both offenses, Monday’s nail-biter also featured strong defensive showings from a number of key contributors including Aaron Donald, who soaked up two sacks and a pair of forced fumbles in the Rams’ victory. That gives the reigning Defensive Player of the Year a league-best 14.5 sacks, which is also a career-high. Marcus Peters has mostly disappointed since arriving in an offseason trade from Kansas City, but the ball-hawking 25-year-old came up big against his ex-mates, thwarting the Chiefs’ comeback bid by intercepting Mahomes with 1:26 remaining.
On the Chiefs’ side, Chris Jones and Justin Houston challenged Goff, combining forces for three sacks and a forced fumble. Houston is already well-known for his pass-rushing prowess, but the up-and-coming Jones is well on his way to becoming a household name as well. The 23-year-old has now recorded a sack in seven straight games going back to Week 5.
Kareem Hunt saw his eight-game touchdown streak expire last week, so he started a new one Monday night by turning a simple screen pass into a 21-yard touchdown burst. That was Hunt’s seventh receiving score, which is tops in the league among running backs.
Brandin Cooks was kept out of the end zone on Monday but still flexed his fantasy muscles with another standout performance, corralling eight of 12 targets for a team-high 107 yards in the victory. Playing on his third team in as many seasons, the 2014 first-rounder has turned up the heat, tallying 100 yards or more in three straight contests.
Both teams will get a much-needed rest after Monday night’s track meet. The Rams will have an extra week to prepare for the 4-6 Lions while the 9-2 Chiefs get a freebie at Oakland when they return from their bye in Week 13. The only thing that could top Monday’s masterpiece would be a Super Bowl rematch. With the way these teams have dominated throughout the year, don’t be surprised if we get one.
Quick Hits: The Buccaneers have tapped Jameis Winston as their starter for Week 12 against the 49ers. He’s getting the nod over Ryan Fitzpatrick, who was benched after throwing three picks in Sunday’s loss to the Giants … O.J. Howard will seek a second opinion on his injured ankle, which he hurt on the final drive of Sunday’s loss to New York. Cameron Brate is next up on the Bucs’ tight end depth chart … Corey Liuget will miss the remainder of the year with a torn quad he suffered in Week 11. That caps a disappointing season for the veteran, who also sat out four games while serving a PED suspension … Josh Allen has resumed full practice, putting him on track to return Sunday against Jacksonville after missing the previous four games with an injured shoulder. Matt Barkley will revert to backup status upon his return … Despite the dismal field conditions that forced the NFL to move this year’s event, commissioner Roger Goodell confirmed Mexico will host another game in 2019. That will be the third installment in the NFL’s Mexico series … Former first-round pick Mark Sanchez found a new home Monday by signing with the quarterback-needy Redskins. With Alex Smith (leg) done for 2018, Sanchez will serve as the backup to default starter Colt McCoy … Jimmy Graham was expected to sit out 4-6 weeks with a broken thumb, but now Packers coach Mike McCarthy is saying he has a chance to suit up Sunday at Minnesota. Graham hasn’t moved the needle much lately, topping 30 yards receiving in just one of his last four games … Marvin Jones (knee) sat out Monday’s practice and could miss another game when Detroit hosts Chicago on Thanksgiving. The Lions are also expected to be without Kerryon Johnson, who sprained his knee in Sunday’s win over Carolina … Marcus Mariota bowed out with a stinger in Week 11, though Titans coach Mike Vrabel is optimistic he’ll be ready for Monday night’s game in Houston. Blaine Gabbert would draw the start if Mariota can’t get the green light … Brandon LaFell will miss the remainder of 2018 after suffering a torn Achilles in Week 11. Doug Martin’s prognosis is more positive, however, as Raiders coach Jon Gruden said he’s not concerned about the ankle injury that forced him from Sunday’s game in Arizona. Gruden also suggested that Jordy Nelson could return for Week 12 at Baltimore after missing Oakland’s last game with knee and quad injuries … Ravens coach John Harbaugh said there’s a “chance” Joe Flacco will return to action in Week 12 after taking last week off to recover from a hip injury. Lamar Jackson held down the fort in his absence, completing 13-of-19 passes for 150 yards and an interception while also scrambling for 117 yards on 27 carries in a win over Cincinnati … Mitchell Trubisky was listed as a DNP on Monday’s practice report. The former second overall pick is battling a shoulder injury, though it would be a stunner if he missed Thursday’s Thanksgiving game in Detroit … Jakeem Grant will go under the knife for season-ending lower leg surgery. He’ll close out the year with a 21-268-2 receiving line over 282 offensive snaps … Geoff Swaim will sit out Thursday’s Thanksgiving matchup against Washington after suffering a broken wrist in Sunday’s win over Atlanta. Rico Gathers, Blake Jarwin and Dalton Schultz will try to fill the void at tight end for Dallas.