In the moment? Damn. In the moment, it was spectacular, it was a rush, it was everything you could possibly ask out of a sporting event you waited all day to watch. The Kansas City Chiefs and the Los Angeles Rams filled the creaky old LA Coliseum on Monday night with enough thrills — and enough points — to carry a whole weekend.
Yep. As you clicked off the TV, as you drifted off to your work-night slumber as Monday crept into Tuesday, it was hard not to feel like you’d just gotten everything you could possibly want as a sports fan: a pinball-machine scoreboard, bright stars all over the field, a game undecided until the very end, even an over that was clinched before the end of the third quarter.
As Chiefs lineman Mitchell Schwartz said in the losing locker room: “This is going to be an all-timer.”
Here’s the thing, though:
If this was really an outlier, if this was really a once-every-decade-or-two showcase, then our initial feelings about Rams 54, Chiefs 51 might stand up over time. Schwartz added: “I’m sure we’ll look back on it in a few years with some perspective and feel lucky to be part of that. Man. Crazy.”
I want to believe he’s right. I want to believe this is the kind of thing we won’t see again until … well, until these two teams meet in the Super Bowl in February, or in another four years (the next time we’ll get Patrick Mahomes versus Jared Goff in the regular season, assuming they stay on the same teams and the NFL doesn’t alter its scheduling patterns).
Or, better still: never again.
Because games like this, when you start thinking about them too much, can be more worrisome than wonderful. Sports is a copycat business, and pro football is the copycattiest of all of them. And look: It’s one thing to want to be able to plaster points on the scoreboards as rapidly as the Chiefs and the Rams did Monday night; it’s another to look at your roster — for kicks, let’s say the Jets’ roster — and wonder how you can score that much in a month.
Still: We already knew that the days of teams who embrace defense first were gone. The ’85 Bears are dead and buried. So is the Steel Curtain, and Doomsday, and the Purple People Eaters, and the Sack Exchange, and the Fearsome Foursome. You win games 10-7 anymore and it almost feels like the win counts only for half.
It is an offensive game. It belongs to the quarterbacks with the fastest guns — to Mahomes and Goff, sure, but also to the extraordinary Drew Brees and the remarkable Aaron Rodgers, to Ben Roethlisberger (who Sunday seemed to wait for the degree-of-difficulty percentage to be calculated before reporting to work) and, of course, to the peerless Tom Brady.
Look at the Chiefs, at the head of the parade for this new wave, who have lost two games this year — and scored 91 points in those losses. Ninety-one points! And look: There was some defense, too. Three defensive TDs. And if you didn’t realize Rams DT Aaron Donald was the best player in football before, you surely do now.
It really is intoxicating.
But is it good? Is it too good? Because honestly, it feels like the ice-cream quandary. A little ice cream is a fantastic treat. A lot of ice cream — like one of those five-scoop banana splits with the works — is an outstanding indulgence. Plowing through 10 gallons at a sitting is gluttonous and gross.
And after further review Rams 54, Chiefs 51 seemed … well, a little gluttonous and a little gross.
(A second, if I may, about the most-vilified trio since Steve Martin, Martin Short and Chevy Chase in “Three Amigos.” It seems like it would be cruel to pile on Joe Tessitore, Jason Witten and Booger McFarland since they’ve been getting crushed for weeks … except having that crew call this game was like having Black Sabbath sing in the choir at High Mass.)
Is this all a silly overreaction? I hope so. But I know this: I used to cover the Big 12 years ago, and 54-51 games seemed to happen in that league four times a week. At first they were fun. Now, I haven’t seen a Big 12 game in 15 years. It’s unwatchable. It’s too much ice cream. Maybe we aren’t ever going back to 10-7 rock fights.
But is 24-21 really all that bad?