Usually, when a much-anticipated game delivers, it’s because the quality of football was high enough to match the hype. Think Chiefs-Rams from last year. Kansas City was involved in another of those games on Sunday, as they headed to Detroit to take on the also-undefeated Lions. The drama was there from start to finish, even if the quality was...not quite as good.
Namely, the teams could not stop fumbling the ball.
That’s five fumbles on five straight possessions, with the Chiefs putting the ball on the ground three times. That’s probably better than what the Lions did, though: after getting a touchdown overturned from the five-yard line, Matthew Stafford tried to run as if his body weren’t broken by years in the NFL, and so it wasn’t particularly surprising that Derrick Nnadi caught him and punched the ball out.
Even that wasn’t as painful as the next Detroit possession, where Kerryon Johnson fumbled the ball on the goal-line, only for no one but Bashaud Breeland to realize the ball was live. His return stood after a lengthy review, since no Lion touched him before he took the ball 100 yards to the end zone.
The quality of play improved in the fourth quarter, with the teams trading touchdown drives that left the score at 30-27 Lions with just over two minutes left. The Chiefs scored first in the final frame after a nifty little hook-and-lateral play via Travis Kelce and LeSean McCoy:
That led to a touchdown plunge by Darrel Williams and, after a couple of punts, it was time for the Lions to drive down the field. They promptly did so, culminating in a tip-toe catch by Kenny Golladay that stood after a review couldn’t figure out whether he had or had not scraped his left foot in time:
One of the side referees called it a touchdown on the field from about a foot away, so the lack of conclusive evidence gave the Lions the score. The Chiefs had one last drive to preserve their undefeated season, and they did just that, with a mammoth 12-play touchdown drive that featured a Patrick Mahomes scramble on fourth-and-8 to keep hope alive back in their own territory. The Lions had 20 seconds to score a touchdown of their own, but after moving the ball to the Chiefs 44-yard-line, two Hail Mary passes fell incomplete.
A game doesn’t have to be perfectly-executed to be riveting as hell, and Detroit and Kansas City both did their part on Sunday with key turnovers to make this the early highlight of week four. In the end, it was the best drive of the day that gave the Chiefs the 34-30 win, and left Detroit cursing their two red zone fumbles.