Cooney: Give us Chiefs-Rams rematch -- a NextGen Super Bowl
To avoid unnecessary expense and potential injury, let’s end the National Football League’s regular season right now and skip to Super Bowl XLII in Atlanta.
Commissioner Roger Goodell, who pulled the trigger on decisions as silly as PSI in a football and as major as removing a game from Mexico City, can surely see that the NFL somehow outdid itself by over-promising and over delivering when the Los Angeles Rams blew minds and the scoreboard with a 54-51 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs Monday night.
So, after 105 points and 1,001 yards in a single game, what else can the NFL do to build hype for a Super Bowl? All due respect to other pretenders, continuing the regular season might somehow screw up a must-have rematch between these two teams in the Super Bowl.
OK, we owe due respect to the New Orleans Saints and quarterback Drew Brees, who beat the Rams in week nine, 45-35, in whatever they are calling the Super Dome this year. Admittedly, despite his boatload of records, Brees is and was underrated back to when he was odd man out in a QB dilemma with the San Diego Chargers.
Brees surely deserves his place among the well-known greats -- Brett Favre, Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, et al. He speaks loudly to an interim era in football history as the game evolved to a weekly aerial circus.
But on Monday, the Chiefs and Rams found a wormhole to the future and unveiled the NFL game of tomorrow. NFL fans, with the probably exception of the Bayou bunch, demand a rematch.
It was the definition of Future Shock as two young quarterbacks unveiled the NextGen NFL. It was an audacious shootout between 24-year old Rams quarterback Jared Goff and 23-year old Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes as they christened a new era in football, one that not only matched but exceeded the video game pyrotechnics of Madden Football.
Goff completed 31-of-49 passes for 413 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions while Mahomes hit on 33-of-46 passes for 478 yards, six touchdowns and three interceptions. With the Chiefs piling up 546 yards and the Rams adding 455, that is 1,001 yards of pyrotechnics that included 54 first downs in a game that never will be forgotten at the old Los Angeles Coliseum.
Even in taking a pragmatic look at the extraordinary game, Chiefs coach Andy Reid set the stage for must-see rematch, one that only could take place in the Super Bowl with Kansas City representing the AFC and the L. A. Rams the NFC.
“You go back on a game like this and you say, heck, I should have called some different plays,” he claimed “I mean on both sides of the ball and special teams. I mean we can do better.”
Better? Really? Ok, show us. Please.
In a league that has worked overtime to legislate offense – often in the guise of concern over safety – how much better can it get?
OK, there were a few plays that featured defense, including two sacks by the Rams’ $130 million defensive tackle Aaron Donald, one leading directly to a touchdown. And there were two, key, drive-killing interceptions by the Rams in the final moments, one by former Chiefs CB Marcus Peters who was traded despite being one of the league’s top turnover machines in recent seasons.
It was a game that went back and forth faster than table tennis, showed more brutality than a head-on collision of big rigs and more drama than one should expect even in Los Angeles. As an import from Mexico – where the game was scheduled to be played in Mexico City – it was more mind-numbing than, well, pick your poison.
After an All-Star officiating crew slowed the first act with too many penalties, the game gained momentum. The Rams entered the fourth quarter ahead, 40-30.
But Mahomes then connected with blur-fast receiver Tyreek Hill on a record 73-yard touchdown. That was followed by Chiefs linebacker Justin Houston’s strip-sack on Goff. Defensive end Allen Bailey took it in for a touchdown. Bam, Chiefs are ahead 44-40.
There were four scores in that fourth quarter until the Rams ended the track meet with 1:56 remaining on a 40-yard pass to backup tight end Gerald Everett, who tip-toed on the edge of the sidelines. After holding the Chiefs, the testosterone-driven Rams kept throwing on offense, necessitating the defense to step up with two interceptions to snuff out the eager Chiefs and end what is probably the most exciting complete game in NFL history.
Players from all over the league lit up social media with comments. Long time Dallas Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant, now on IR with the New Orleans Saints, tweeted “Man, this game is seriously crazy. Real life Madden!!!”
The victory gives the Rams a 10-1 record and the loss drops the Chiefs to 9-2. But the die is cast and expectations are set. Forget the rest of regular season and skip the playoffs. Let’s summon up another rule in the name of safety, give the rest of the league time off and let these two teams rest up for a rematch in the Super Bowl.