Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise
Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise

Was That The Future Of Football?

Illustration for article titled Was That The Future Of Football?
Photo: Kevork Djansezian (Getty)

“I might need a couple beverages to relax tonight,” Sean McVay said after the Rams’ 54-51 win over the Chiefs in one of the most satisfying and exhilarating football games ever played. Maybe a cigarette? MNF viewers are walking around this morning like we got laid last night, and you know what? I’m not able to look you in the eye and say we didn’t.

Let’s bullet-point this, because it’s the only format breathless and relentless enough to match the back-and-forth of that game.

  • The Rams and Chiefs combined for 105 points, the third-highest total in NFL history, and the second-highest of the Super Bowl era.
  • It was the highest-scoring game in Monday Night Football history, which comprises 773 games.
  • It was the first time in NFL history that two teams scored 50 points in the same game.
  • It was, then, the first time in NFL history that a team scored at least 50 points and lost. They are now 217-1.
  • The Chiefs are now the second team in NFL history, and the first of the Super Bowl era, to lose two games in a season in which they scored at least 40 points.
  • The Chiefs have averaged more points in losses (45.5) than in wins (34.8).
  • The game’s over-under closed at 64, which was the highest since they’ve been keeping those records (1986). The game hit the over before the end of the third quarter.
  • Together, the Rams and Chiefs’ offenses gained 1,001 yards. Jared Goff and Patrick Mahomes combined to throw for 891 yards and 10 touchdowns.
  • Mahomes’s passer rating of 117.6 was the highest in NFL history of any QB who threw three interceptions.
  • Mahomes’s six touchdown passes were the most in Monday Night Football history.
  • Mahomes became just the third player in NFL history, and the second of the Super Bowl era, to have two separate six-TD games in a season.
  • Mahomes is now tied for second in NFL history for most four-TD games in a season.

It is hard to know what to make of this game in a larger context, whether it’ll be an unforgettable one-night stand, or if this is a harbinger of an NFL to come. I am thrilled over the possibility/probability of getting to watch Goff and Mahomes for the next decade or more, but I wonder about things on a more institutional level. The NFL has undergone a sea change. Scoring is up. Passing is up. Rule changes and coaching philosophies have trended toward producing teams like these, a game like that. And this is a copycat league: Every team will be trying to do what the Rams and Chiefs have done. Most will fail—there are only so many Sean McVays and Andy Reids in the world, to say nothing of the Goffs and Mahomeses and Gurleys and Hunts and Cookses and Woodses and Hills and Kelces. But soon, a game like Monday’s won’t be so aberrational, and thus, not so special. It’s a trade-off, a generally more wide-open game in exchange for the spikes of pleasure from these relative barnburners. Is that a trade you’re willing to make, as a fan? It’s a moot point. It’s out of our hands. It’s out of everybody’s hands, now. It’s happening.

Deputy editor | Deadspin

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