5 Positives/Negatives In Saints’ Loss To Chiefs
Below are five positives, and also five negatives, to take from the New Orleans Saints' 27-21 road loss to the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday.
The setback dropped the Saints to 2-4 on the season.
1)—Drew Brees: The interception return for a touchdown by Daniel Sorenson in the first quarter was a killer, and may have been the difference in the game, but that wasn't even Brees' fault, as the pass was tipped. Despite that pick, Brees still had a good day, against one of the league's better defenses, completing 37-of-48 passes for 367 yards and three touchdowns. It was the 100th time in his great career that Brees has thrown for at least 300 yards, which is an NFL record. In comparison, Peyton Manning ended his magnificent career with 93 games of 300 or more yards passing in a game.
2)—Third Down Efficiency: The Saints were 4-of-11 in third down conversions against the Raiders in week one, before going 3-of-13 against the Giants in week two. Since then, they were 7-of-13 against the Falcons in week three, 11-of-18 against the Chargers in week four, and then 8-16 against the Panthers in week five. On Sunday, they finished their fourth consecutive game going at least 50% in third down conversions, going 9-of-14, while holding the Chiefs to only 3-of-9. It wasn't enough to win, but it sure kept them in the game, as New Orleans outgained Kansas City, in terms of total yards, 463-326.
3)—Michael Thomas: The rookie second round draft choice out of Ohio St. just continues to get better, catching 10 passes for 130 yards, both career highs. Willie Snead and Brandin Cooks were productive too, combining for 16 catching for 135 yards, but it was Thomas that was Brees' favorite target on Sunday.
4)—Linebackers: Sure, Spencer Ware had a 46-yard reception, but he and Travis Kelce only combined for 4 catches, which was a big part of the reason the Chiefs were only 3-of-9 on third down conversions. Yes, the safties had something to do with that too, but the linebackers did a good job in coverage. Nate Stupar and Craig Robertson paced New Orleans in tackles, with 8 and 6, respectively.
5)—Kenny Vaccaro: Vacarro continued his solid play, making five tackles, including one for a loss. The fourth-year veteran out of Texas has been a consistent producer for the Saints this year, and has emerged as one of the most unheralded safties in the league.
1)—Turnovers: Plain and simple; turnovers were the difference in the game. The Saints did everything they had to do to win the game, with the exception of protecting the bal, and taking it away. The Chiefs scored on a pick-six by Sorensen in the first quarter, and then later stopped a potential Saints' score at the 8:37 mark of the fourth quarter, when Rod Parker forced a fumble at KC's 13-yard line, by punching the ball out of the hands of Mark Ingram, before being recovered by Marcus Peters. The Saints, however, did not forced any turnovers themselves. Take away just one of those turnovers, and the Saints may have won. Take away both, and there's no question they would have. But turnovers are a part of the game, and Kansas City does a great job of forcing them and protecting the ball, while New Orleans doesn't.
2)—Penalties: The Saints were penalized 10 times for 75 yards, including a 15-yard unnecessary roughness call on Nick Fairley at the 2:26 mark of the fourth quarter. That penalty, which gave the Chiefs a first down, instead of a potential third down play, while the Saints had only one timeout remaining, likely clinched the win for Kansas City.
3)—Dannell Ellerbe: He just NEVER plays! Ellerbe played in only 6 games all of last year, and has not played in a single game for the Saints this year. He’s only played in two games since last October. Their better when he plays, but he seldom does.
4)—Terron Armstead: It was great to see the starting left tackle back, after missing the last 4 games. It wasn't great to see him taken to the locker room on a cart after leaving the game in the first quarter. Fortunately, he did come back to finish the game, but he admitted after the game that he didn't feel quite right, even at the start of the game. The Saints are a much better team with Armstead healthy and playing, so let's hope the injury is not something that is going to linger. Starting guard Andrus Peat was out, while another starting guard Sergio Kelemente left the game with a stinger, so the Saints were certainly short-handed on the offensive front.
5)—Defensive line: Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith looked too comfortable all day. He wasn't sacked, and seldom felt any heat. Other than pressure put on Smith by Fairly in the fourth quarter, I can't think of one other time when he really hurried to get rid of a pass. The Kansas City running backs were also successful on the ground, gaining 105 yards on 24 carries, for an average on 4.4 yards-per-carry. Just not even disruption by the New Orleans defensive front.