Kansas City Chiefs (9-2) – Los Angeles Rams (3-8): 26-10
The Chiefs and Rams were so close at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood during the last Super Bowl. A final won by the Californian franchise, thus committing the offensive avant-garde of its coach, Sean McVay. Before this eventual victory, it was the last opposition between the Rams and the Chiefs, in 2018, that could legitimately serve as dedication. Both for McVay and his men, and for Andy Reid and his men, losers that night, but fellow participants in a never-before-seen football orgy only crudely imitated since.
If the two teams have added a Super Bowl to their list in the last four years, the context was very different this Sunday. The protagonists too, especially on the side of Los Angeles, which arrived at Arrowhead with the worst record of a defending champion after 10 meetings (3-7) in the history of the league. The result of a workforce decimated by injuries, starting with Matthew Stafford, hit in the neck, whose end of the season was very seriously damaged.
Travis Kelce record
Like the year without the Angelinos, Sean McVay nearly joined his starting quarterback in concussion protocol after being accidentally hit in the jaw by rookie tight end Roger Carter Jr. who entered the field.
Oof, Rams HC Sean McVay was hit in the head by one of his player’s helmets while on the sideline. pic.twitter.com/z4T6hiBAaR
— FOX Sports: NFL (@NFLonFOX) November 27, 2022
This poor record is also the result of a defensive group that stutters their football, despite the incredible consistency of the greatest defender of his generation, Aaron Donald, and the presence of another superstar in his own right in the backfield, Jalen Ramsey . The Rams defense, before moving to Missouri, was the one that played the fewest individual punts in the entire NFL (8.4% of snaps). Against a Chiefs offense with an almost historic efficiencyRaheem Morris initially changed his habits by trading his defense in the fetish zone for man-to-man marking.
In this small game, the Chiefs, seasoned in this coverage since the departure of Tyreek Hill in the offseason, played the first draw. Against Jalen Ramsey (6 tackles, 1 pass defended), Travis Kelce (4 receptions, 57 yards, 1 TD) emerged victorious from the duel of future Hall of Famers, with a pass from Patrick Mahomes (37/42, 320 yards, 1) TD, 1 INT) at the entrance to the Rams red zone, and finished the job 20 yards away. His 11th touchdown of the seasontied a career high with six games to go.
Slow start for Perkins
Across the way, Bryce Perkins (13/23, 100 yards, 1 TD, 2 INTS) made his big league debut, taking over from Matthew Stafford. If his legs (9 rushes, 44 yards) allowed him somewhat to move the chains and the Rams to score on field goals, it was much more complicated in the air at first. Two short pass completions in the first half (2/6, 16 yards) in a necessarily limited playbook. So much so that Los Angeles relied on trickery and a pass from his punter Riley Dixon, from the second quarter, to gain ground. A success, certainly, already sounds like an admission of weakness.
Upon returning from the locker room, the scenario of the first half hour of play was repeated: an inevitably limited Rams offense against a Chiefs defense that did not have to enforce its talent; A Chiefs offense that recites its series against a dominated Rams defense without necessarily hurting. A respectable logic then, at a small pace light years from the fireworks of 2018. Just enough for Isiah Pacheco (22 rushes, 69 yards, 1 TD) to register his first touchdown since Week 1 (20 -3).
Just enough, too, for Bryce Perkins to take a little more comfort and finally cap off a streak worthy of the name. Fourteen plays, including six assists, 75 yards and the first touchdown of his career, for Van Jefferson at the reception (20-10). Nothing exceptional, but enough to gain confidence.
Then almost nothing… A mistake as disturbing as it is unexpected for a quarterback of the pedigree of Patrick Mahomes on 3rd & goal. A mistake as disturbing as expected for a neophyte like Bryce Perkins. Then a new interception, where he plays bad luck. Learn the hard way. For the Chiefs, two small fields to seal victory and voila.
It looked like the Rams could never win in Kansas City, but they avoid correctives. A lesser evil given the circumstances, respective state of form and forces present at kick-off. For the Chiefs, the essential is assured in the race for the bye in the 1st round of play in the AFC. Without being transcendent, Mahomes and his group continue on their merry way, before a challenge of a different caliber next week, in Cincinnati.