LOS ANGELES -- Jared Goff threw a 40-yard touchdown pass to Gerald Everett for the go-ahead score with 1:49 to play, and the Los Angeles Rams outlasted the Kansas City Chiefs for a 54-51 victory on Monday night in a high-octane NFL offensive showdown that somehow surpassed the hype.
Patrick Mahomes passed for a career-high 478 yards with six touchdown passes in his latest jaw-dropping effort for the Chiefs (9-2), but he also threw two interceptions in the final 1:18 as the Rams (10-1) claimed the highest-scoring Monday night game ever played, the third-highest-scoring game in NFL history and the first NFL game with two 50-point performances.
Goff passed for 413 yards and four touchdowns and rushed for another score, while Marcus Peters and Lamarcus Joyner came up with late interceptions as the Rams hung on to win a game featuring 14 touchdowns.
The highest-scoring game in the league this season was an offensive fantasia with 1,001 combined yards and ingenious scheming from mastermind coaches Andy Reid and Sean McVay -- along with three defensive touchdowns and 21 combined penalties.
“It was a whirlwind,” McVay said. “I feel like I might need a couple of beverages to relax tonight, but it was great. This is what you love so much about the game.”
The Coliseum’s first Monday night game since 1985 was worth the wait -- particularly for the thousands of first responders and families who received free tickets to the game while recovering from the dual tragedies of wildfires and a mass shooting in Thousand Oaks.
If this video-game-like spectacle turns out to be a Super Bowl preview, Atlanta should prepare for an All-Madden-level show from two of the most exciting teams in the league.
“It was one of the most competitive games I’ve been a part of,” McVay said. “It was just a competitive game with a lot of high-caliber football in all three phases.”
Rams linebacker Samson Ebukam returned a fumble and an interception for the first two TDs of his NFL career, while Kansas City’s Allen Bailey returned Goff’s fumble for a go-ahead touchdown early in the fourth quarter.
The second half was an extended thriller featuring 59 combined points, but the Rams made slightly more big plays down the stretch.
“We can learn from this,” Reid said. “We can’t give up 21 points on turnovers. Have to take care of the football. We created some turnovers and points, (but had) too many penalties. We’ll heal up and get set to go for stretch run.”
After Goff led a 75-yard scoring drive in 89 seconds for the go-ahead TD to Everett, Peters -- the former Pro Bowl cornerback traded by Kansas City to Los Angeles last winter -- intercepted Mahomes’ underthrown ball near midfield with 1:18 to play.
The Rams only managed to get 14 seconds off the clock on their next three plays, and the Coliseum roiled in anticipation of a big finish by Mahomes. But the Chiefs were pushed back to their 13 with 50 seconds left thanks to a booming punt by Johnny Hekker, and Joyner intercepted Mahomes’ final desperate heave with 13 seconds left.
“It was a 16-round fight,” Rams cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman said. “You’re talking about a Mike Tyson-Lennox Lewis type of fight. Two great teams. Two great opponents. Two great coaches.”
This game has loomed in capital letters on the NFL’s regular season schedule ever since these teams confirmed their status as offensive powerhouses in September. The Rams and Chiefs are the league’s biggest favorites along with New Orleans and New England -- the teams responsible for the only other losses by Los Angeles and Kansas City this season.
“It’s always fun to play against real good teams,” Mahomes said. “You get to go out there and have fun ... (but) it’s the same as when we played New England. You can’t make mistakes against great teams. You need to limit your mistakes, but be aggressive.”
Before both offensive powerhouses hit their bye weeks ahead of the regular-season stretch run, they both demonstrated the full depth of their talents for a prime-time audience.
And for all the offensive brilliance on display, both defenses made game-changing plays as well.
Aaron Donald forced two fumbles while sacking Mahomes, and Ebukam returned the first for a TD in the second quarter. The Rams’ unsung outside linebacker then made a spectacular one-armed interception at the line of scrimmage in the third quarter before returning it 25 yards for a score, powering over Mahomes to reach the end zone.
A raucous crowd packed the venerable Coliseum just six days after the NFL moved the game from Mexico City to Los Angeles due to poor field conditions at Azteca Stadium.
The first half was every bit as entertaining as expected, with two high-level offenses immediately trading long drives and quick-strike TD plays. The teams combined for 462 yards before halftime, and the only things slowing down the Chiefs were penalties -- eight in the first quarter alone.
Los Angeles led early until Bailey swung the momentum when he sacked Goff, forcing and recovering the quarterback’s first lost fumble of the season.
Donald then made a massive play of his own, swatting the ball out of Mahomes’ hand for Ebukam’s scoop-and-score TD just 1:50 before halftime.
Donald made his second strip-sack of Mahomes shortly after halftime, and Goff scrambled for the third rushing TD of his career moments later.