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Saints Back to .500 After 30-20 Win Against Demoralized Chiefs

Although the New Orleans Saints got their first road win against a struggling Kansas City Chiefs team, the team faces a long road ahead if they want to make a run for the playoffs. This was a game that the Saints were expected to win and they did not disappoint.

However, the Saints still could not get a 100-yard rusher against the worst rushing defense in the league and the defense showed that their lack of a pass rush has been because the secondary doesn’t cover man-to-man very well. Rather than being something to crow about, this game showed that the season isn’t yet over. The real tests still lie ahead.

Saints QB Drew Brees threw for 266 yards, completing 25 of 36 attempts, making one touchdown and one interception. He now has 3,251 yards this season and, with a 325.1 yards per game average, is predicted to throw for 5,201 yards. He was helped by good field position most of the game thanks to a solid special teams effort. Chiefs QB Tyler Thigpen threw for 235 yards, completing 19 of 38, with two touchdowns and one interception.

Brees threw his 11th interception of the season on a pass intended for Devery Henderson on the team’s second possession of the game. Chiefs third-year FS Jarrad Page made the interception at the Saints’ 49 yard line.

Kansas City was able to capitalize on the turnover, driving down to the end zone in 9 plays, including converting a fourth and one when RB Larry Johnson took a direct snap to move the ball four yards. The touchdown was made by former LSU WR Dwayne Bowe on a 6-yard catch with about five and a half minutes left to play in the first quarter.

New Orleans answered back with a 30-yard field goal set up by a 54-yard return by WR Courtney Roby who was signed during the season from the Indianapolis Colts. Rookie K Garrett Hartley, in his second game with the team, remained perfect, hitting also from 23 yards and from 35 with 3:28 left in the fourth to seal the game.

On the Saints’ next drive, RB Deuce McAllister ran in one yard for the touchdown. This was third rushing touchdown this year and his 53rd with the team, tying the franchise record set by Dalton Hilliard. McAllister finished the day with 18 yards on 8 attempts, the longest for 5 yards.

The second quarter ended with an exchange of field goals leaving the score 13 to 10 at halftime with the Saints leading. New Orleans had 172 yards to 151 for Kansas City. In two quarters, the Saints had 43 rushing yards on 12 plays. New Orleans did not commit a penalty in the entire first half and only had two in the entire game.

New Orleans scored first in the second half with a deep pass to Lance Moore for a touchdown with 14 minutes left in the third. Moore had an excellent day with 102 yards and the touchdown. Moore led all receivers, followed by RB Pierre Thomas. Kansas City responded with a 21-yard field goal which was matched by a 1-yard touchdown run by Thomas to put the Saints up 27 to 13.

Thomas also had a great day with 88 rushing yards on 16 attempts and 56 receiving yards. However, one might have expected the Saints to have more rushing yards after the criticisms that the team is not committed to the run and playing against the worst-rushing defense in the league, who have given up an average of 172 rushing yards per game.

The Chiefs added some drama in the fourth quarter when Dwayne Bowe caught a 5-yard pass for his second touchdown of the day. But the Saints drove down the field, using 12 plays and about six and a half minutes off the clock to score their last field goal. With 3:28 left in the game, Kansas City’s hopes were crushed when CB Usama Young intercepted a pass intended for Bowe.

The defense played well at times and sometimes didn’t. The Saints had four sacks in the game, two by DE Jeff Charleston, one by DE Bobby McCray, and one by DE Will Smith, with LB Scott Fujita forcing a fumble by RB Larry Johnson. The defense also held the Chiefs from making touchdowns twice in very short yardage situations, including one in which Fujita and LB Jonathan Vilma stopped Johnson who was only inches from scoring. However, it seemed that whenever the defense blitzed on long yardage situations, it benefited the Chiefs. One particular play was on third and 14 from the Kansas City 45, the Saints blitzed and the result was a 42 yard completion.

Another area of note: challenges. New Orleans has made more challenges this season than any other team, only two of which have resulted in having calls overturned. The logic of the challenges have not always been apparent either. Payton threw his 11th challenge this season on a 19-yard pass completion early in the first quarter, challenging whether it was a completed pass. The ruling was upheld. The Saints then missed what would have been a better challenge opportunity with that 42-yard reception on third and 14 as the ball may have touched the ground.

Saints players inactive for the game included RB Reggie Bush, FB Mike Karney, WR David Patten, CBs Aaron Glenn and David Pittman, C Jonathan Goodwin, and T Jermon Bushrod.

Next week, the Saints will return to the Superdome for a Monday night game against the Green Bay Packers.

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