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The Rams’ Win Over the Chiefs Was Pure Football Nirvana

Monday night’s epic featured the third-most points in NFL history, 1,000 yards of offense, and thrilling defensive highlights. It’s hard to call it anything but an all-timer.

Kansas City Chiefs v Los Angeles Rams Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Rams-Chiefs wasn’t just a potential Super Bowl preview. It wasn’t just the game of the year—or possibly the decade or the century. (We can hit pause on that question for when we’ve all had a chance to come down from this high.) It was a freaking Stefon skit come to life.

This game just had everything. It had the awesome: A 54-51 final score to put Los Angeles past Kansas City. The third-most points in NFL history, 1,001 yards of offense, 56 first downs … and seven turnovers. There were two fumble-return touchdowns and an interception-return touchdown. There were 14 total touchdowns—more than the Bills have had all season.

It had the hype: The matchup set the record for a Vegas over/under for total points at 63, and shattered that number by the third quarter. It featured the best head-to-head matchup (in terms of wins above .500) since the 9-0 Chiefs and 8-1 Broncos met in 2013. And it featured two of the three highest-scoring offenses in the league right now.

It had the highlights: Patrick Mahomes II threw it from one 15-yard line to another.

Jared Goff ran for a score:

Aaron Donald continued his Defensive Player of the Year campaign with two strip sacks:

The teams took a break to play hot potato right in the middle of the action:

There were way too many highlights for me to include in this post. Again, there were 14 touchdowns. This catch from Tyreek Hill was impossible; it will barely be a footnote:

It had the record-breaking: The Chiefs became the first team to ever score 50 or more points and lose. Mahomes is only the third QB to record 400 yards and six touchdown passes in a loss.

It had the bizarre: The game was tied at the half, 23-23, thanks to two missed extra points. With under 10 minutes left in the fourth quarter in a three-point game, both offenses went three-and-out on back-to-back possessions. A player—Samson Ebukam—who had never recovered a fumble or caught an interception in his career did both, and he brought both into the end zone. Andy Reid yelled at Jared Goff at one point.

It had the narratives: The game was relocated from Mexico to L.A. on Tuesday after the NFL determined Estadio Azteca’s field wasn’t football-ready. The Los Angeles region and California as a whole have been shaken by a mass shooting and wildfires—around 100 players and Rams staffers had to evacuate due to the fires earlier this month, and the Rams gave away 3,000 tickets to Monday’s game to first responders. Rams corner Marcus Peters, who has been maligned for much of the season, caught a crucial interception late in the fourth quarter against his former team.

It had a little bit of bad, too, sure: The game featured 21 penalties for 195 yards despite a supposed “all-star” group of officials. A few of those penalties were ticky-tacky, especially in the first quarter, but most of them were well earned. Meanwhile, Todd Gurley looked like he was nursing an injury for much of the game, and Brandin Cooks, Marcus Peters, and Troy Hill left for stretches with cramps. This game was, occasionally, very sloppy.

But, man, that was football nirvana. I’ve never seen anything like it. When a game is that wild, the stakes skyrocket. After all the touchdowns and turnovers, big plays and penalties, there was a sense that anything could happen as the seconds ticked away. There was never going to be a casual drive down the field to put the game on ice, or any lead that could ever be described as “comfortable.”

This game had the collective euphoria of a Super Bowl and it was only a regular-season game between two teams that were already virtually guaranteed to make the playoffs. If the Rams and Chiefs do meet with the Lombardi Trophy on the line, the resulting game could be the best of all time.