Chiefs 34, Ravens 20: A very fun night for the Super Bowl champions
We are going to talk about Patrick Mahomes throwing an underhanded touchdown to Anthony Sherman, like the bald and tatted and 242-pound fullback was Mahomes' large child or something.
We will do that soon. Because it was ridiculous. And hilarious. The specific genius and creativity of the Mahomes-Andy Reid brain-meld is the best show in America right now, and has been for more than two years.
When it looks like this, it looks gorgeous.
The Chiefs beat the Ravens 34-20 in Baltimore Monday night, the football world watching, and what they saw (especially in the first half) is the best football can be in 2020. Remember years ago, when it was fun to talk about the wussification of football? When olds complained that the game was being ruined?
The 2020 Chiefs are one heck of a counterargument.
Look here: It's Mahomes faking a jump pass, then scrambling and throwing to a wide-open receiver who might as well have fallen out of his shirt pocket.
Look here: It's Mahomes doing what sure looked like a version of Jet Chip Wasp, drifting back on third and 14 to give Mecole Hardman enough time to make a double move and catch a dime for a touchdown.
Look here: It's Mahomes lined up out wide in the Wildcat, then taking the pitch in the pocket and completing a pass.
Look here: It's the left tackle catching a touchdown pass, and then playing hot potato.
Look here: It's Reid designing some wild screens, three of them on one possession, each crazier than the last. First it's Clyde Edwards-Helaire on third down, then Travis Kelce on a middle screen after the Chiefs were done faking screens toward both sidelines and then, finally, the tour de force:
Tyreek Hill lined up as a tailback, taking the defense's attention toward the sideline, Sherman sort of waiting a beat, turning around and catching football's first intentional underhanded touchdown pass since a thousand dads had their kids in the backyard Monday afternoon.
What is the proper reaction to all this?
Do we drop our jaws at the creativity? Go through the X's and O's and take this game plan to Canton?
Do we laugh?
Hopefully that's OK, because your guy here did a lot of laughing on Monday night.
It's just that, sometimes, the Chiefs don't make sense. This has been true for a long time, it should be said, but for Chiefs fans of a certain age "don't make sense" meant trying to win with somebody else's backup quarterback, or curating the planet's biggest collection of receivers who run 4.6s, or blowing big playoff leads because the other team's quarterback threw himself a touchdown pass and a defensive back lined up as a defensive end against an all-world running back headed his way.
Whew. Deep breath. It's been a lot.
But now "the Chiefs don't make sense" means something else entirely. The Chiefs' Chiefiness has always been inevitable, but since the 2018 AFC Championship Game that phrase has taken on an entirely different meaning.
Now it means Mahomes' kneecap stays just close enough to his knee that he only misses two games, and it means Ryan Fitzpatrick wins in Foxborough, and it means three straight double-digit deficits in the playoffs become a point of pride, and it means an emasculation of what had been the NFL's best team through two weeks.
This was the Chiefs at their best, or at least closer to it than we've seen.
This group won the dang Super Bowl last year, and when they said they never peaked they said with straight faces. Then they brought everybody back, declared the next dynasty, and then were decidedly far from perfect the first two weeks.
The defense gave up too many points late, and the offense did not find its customary explosiveness against the Texans.
Then the Chargers whupped the Chiefs' offensive line and Mahomes played poorly (for him, at least) for three quarters.
That's no way to chase another Super Bowl, and the Chiefs knew it, so they went all Chiefs on the Ravens.
There are times, if you watch a normal team, that every trick play feels like a withdrawal from the jar of cash you keep for bad days. Creativity has its limits, and you don't want to use the good sorcery unless you think it will make a difference.
This is not a normal team. This is a team with one of the most creative coaches in league history, with a unicorn quarterback who makes anything seem possible and a collection of skill-position talent that all 31 other teams would trade for.
Reid used to put a 340-pound nose tackle at quarterback for fun. Then it was the 1948 Rose Bowl. Now, he's having his quarterback throw touchdowns the way kids used to toss those ping-pong balls on Bozo The Clown's show.
Look. The outcome on Monday may or may not matter in January. At the most, it could mean a playoff rematch with the Ravens will be at Arrowhead, with the Chiefs taking the first-round bye now afforded to only the top seed in each conference.
There will be some psychological things to work through. The Ravens need to prove to themselves (not anyone else, but themselves) that they can beat this team. The Chiefs will have to convince themselves (not anyone else, but themselves) that three wins over Lamar Jackson do nothing to find a fourth.
Those are conversations for another day. Those will be serious conversations.
For now, this is fun.