Chiefs anything but down after losing pyrotechnic showdown with Rams
The Kansas City Chiefs walked out of Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles late Monday night confident that they could beat the Rams if they should get a rematch in the Super Bowl.
If only they don’t have to beat themselves, too.
For all the positives the Chiefs did during their 54-51 shootout loss to the Rams — and there were plenty — the glaring mistakes overshadowed them. Patrick Mahomes tossed a trio of interceptions, lost a pair of fumbles, and was sacked three times. The defense gave up too many big plays. Harrison Butker missed an extra point. And the Chiefs were penalized 13 times for 135 yards.
Yet the Chiefs still led the Rams in the fourth quarter in a record-setting, back-and-forth offensive bonanza.
Two powerhouse NFL teams at the peak of their brilliance dueled deep into the night at an ecstatic Coliseum, racking up eye-popping numbers — including 1,001 yards of combined offense — that stretched the box score and credulity.
There were 14 touchdowns, including three by defensive players. There were 56 first downs. There were 105 points, with 50 from each team — the first time that’s ever happened in an NFL game.
Jared Goff threw a 40-yard touchdown pass to Gerald Everett for the go-ahead score with 1:49 to play in a showdown that somehow surpassed the hype.
‘‘It was a crazy game, crazy game,’’ said Goff, who passed for 413 yards and four touchdowns and even ran for another score.
The Chiefs still had a chance to beat one of the NFL’s top teams on the road. So yes, they walked away with a loss, but also with a lot of confidence. They are still have a comfortable hold of the top seed in the AFC.
‘‘I mean, the fact that we were in this game with three scoring turnovers, we gave them 21 points off turnovers and they’re a good team,’’ Chiefs wide receiver Chris Conley said.
‘‘If we can eliminate those penalties, and those turnovers, this game is a different game. If we can score off those drives, it’s a different game. It all comes down to being disciplined and executing.’’
The Chiefs (9-2) had done that most of the season. They only had eight turnovers over their first 10 games, and while penalties have been a constant problem, they had been able to overcome them.
That all changed under the bright Monday night lights.
Los Angeles linebacker Samson Ebukam returned Mahomes’s first fumble for a touchdown in the second quarter. He returned an interception 25 yards for another score in the third. And two interceptions in the final minutes scuttled any chance of setting up Butker for a tying field goal.
‘‘You go back in a game like this, heck, I wish I would have called some different plays. We can all do better,’’ Chiefs coach Andy Reid said.
‘‘We can learn from this in a lot of different ways. We've got to look at it individually, even though we talk team, and that helps us become a better team when we do that and be real with ourselves.’’
The Chiefs will have a bit of extra time for that self-assessment. They returned to Kansas City for their bye week, giving them an opportunity to reflect and recover.
There were plenty of positives to reflect upon in Los Angeles, too.
■ Mahomes threw for 478 yards, the second-most in franchise history, and matched his own club record with six touchdown passes.
■ Tyreek Hill had a career-high 10 catches for 215 yards and two TDs. It was the second-highest yardage total in Chiefs history, trailing only Stephone Paige’s 309 yards against San Diego in 1985.
■ Tight end Travis Kelce also had 10 catches for 127 yards and a score, extending his streak of games with a reception to 74 — the third-longest in franchise history.
■ Kareem Hunt ran for 70 yards while catching three passes for 41 yards and a score. That made him the first player since Lenny Moore of the Baltimore Colts in 1961 to have seven touchdowns through the air and on the ground in his team’s first 11 games.
‘MNF’ a fan favorite
The Rams-Chiefs shootout also put up big numbers in the television ratings — though Boston was not among the top 10 markets.
ESPN’s broadcast of the Rams’ 54-51 victory over the Chiefs earned an 11.3 overnight rating, according to Nielsen. It is the best overnight rating for an ESPN “Monday Night Football” game since 2014 (12.1, Dallas-Washington, Oct. 27, 2014) and ESPN’s highest overnight rating since the College Football Playoff national championship game Jan. 8.
The game rating peaked at 12.5 on the Chiefs’ final drive from 11:45 p.m. – 12 a.m.
Tannehill eyeing start
Ryan Tannehill was among the first players on the field Tuesday, tossing short passes to an assistant equipment manager before practice even began, trying to make up for lost time and lost games.
The Dolphins plan to start Tannehill for the first time in seven weeks Sunday at Indianapolis. Coach Adam Gase said Tannehill has progressed enough in his recovery from a throwing shoulder injury to rejoin the lineup, and said the quality of his passes appears to be 100 percent.
‘‘You don’t look at him and go, ‘Is he trying to feel his way?’ ’’ Gase said. ‘‘I don’t see that. I see a guy who’s confident in where he’s at, and is doing a good job of turning the ball loose and putting it where it needs to be.’’
Doctors have told him he doesn’t risk further injury to the shoulder by returning. He threw in practice Tuesday for the first time since mid-October, and is now unleashing passes of more than 50 yards while making more than 100 throws per session.
Tannehill said his shoulder still hurts when he throws, but the stabbing pain he felt earlier is gone.
‘‘I'm not completely pain-free, but it’s at a tolerable rate and it’s something I can deal with, and it doesn’t affect any throws I make,’’ he said. ‘‘I'm ready to put this behind me and move forward and start winning games.’’
Tannehill’s return provides a welcome lift. Replacement Brock Osweiler went 2-3 as the starter, and the offense has gone nine quarters without a touchdown.
The Dolphins (5-5) have lost five of their past seven games, but because of a logjam of .500 teams in the AFC, they’re in contention for only their third playoff berth in the past 17 seasons. That means Tannehill has a shot to play in the postseason for the first time in his seven-year career.
Tannehill will start this week for only the sixth time in Miami’s past 31 games. A knee injury wiped out his 2017 season, and this year he hurt the capsule in his shoulder in Week 5.
Progress in rehabilitation was so unsteady at first that the Dolphins shut down Tannehill for a time. Gase acknowledged the possibility of another setback.
‘‘Like I told Brock, ‘You've just always got to stay ready,’ ’’ Gase said.
Daniel ready to sub for Trubisky
Chase Daniel promises to be ready to step in at quarterback for Mitchell Trubisky on Thursday when the Bears play the Lions.
The Bears’ backup might need to clear away some rust.
Daniel hasn’t started or played extensively in an NFL game since 2014, and might start for Trubisky because of a right shoulder injury sustained in the fourth quarter of the Bears’ 25-20 victory Sunday night over the Vikings.
‘‘This week is a little bit different just because it’s a short week, but I really haven’t changed the way I prepare,’’ Daniel said. ‘‘I prepare like a starter every week, so for me it’s just another game.’’
Coach Matt Nagy is holding out hope Trubisky can play even without practice.
‘‘I'm saying cautiously optimistic, but I can’t make any promises,’’ Nagy said. ‘‘I hope he does. But it’s a day-to-day thing for us.’’
The Bears had walkthrough type practices Monday and Tuesday, and on Wednesday have meetings before leaving for Detroit.
Nagy wouldn’t describe the injury beyond saying Trubisky is ‘‘. . . in pain, which is normal.’’
Nagy stressed it isn’t a long-term injury, or one requiring surgery, but the Bears will be prepared if Daniel plays.
Daniel hasn’t thrown a regular-season pass since 2016. He hasn’t thrown more than two passes in a season since 2014 in Kansas City. However, he has extensive knowledge of the offensive system after being in it from 2013-15 with the Chiefs.
Daniel has a 1-1 record as an NFL starter and has completed 51 of 78 for 480 yards with a touchdown pass and an interception. He also played for the Saints, Chiefs, and Eagles.
‘‘I know that Chase, this is one of the reasons why he’s here, if we get in a situation like this where we have to make a decision one way or the other,’’ Nagy said. ‘‘This is why you have a guy like Chase.
‘‘You feel very comfortable with him. Chase understands; he’s the oldest guy on our team , so he’s got experience.’’
‘Pacman’ Jones cut by Broncos
The short stint by Adam ‘‘Pacman’’ Jones in Denver is over.
The Broncos waived the 14-year veteran after he'd appeared in seven games, posting nine tackles and one interception and three pass breakups.
Jones posted a thank you note on Instagram, saying, ‘‘Well Denver, it was good. Thanks for the opportunity!!! On to the next !!!’’
At 35, Jones might have a hard time finding another team in need of a cornerback/kick returner.
He signed with Denver in August. Coach Vance Joseph, who once served as an assistant in Cincinnati, vouched for Jones, who spent eight seasons with the Bengals.
Jones was the Broncos’ leading punt returner with 10, albeit for a 2.5-yard average, and he returned four kickoffs for a 21.3-yard average.
Seymour, Law among 25 Hall semifinalists
First-year eligible Tony Gonzalez, Ed Reed, and Champ Bailey are among 25 semifinalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. In all, 13 defensive players, nine on offense, and three coaches — Jimmy Johnson, Tom Flores, and Don Coryell — made the cut.
Among the semifinalsts are two Patriots: cornerback Ty Law and defensive lineman Richard Seymour.
The 25 modern-day finalists from an original group of 103 will be reduced to 15 on Jan. 3. The selection meeting will be Feb. 2, the day before the Super Bowl, in Atlanta.
Already finalists for the hall are contributors Gil Brandt and Pat Bowlen, and senior committee nominee Johnny Robinson.