Saints analysis: It was the classic "if only" game

WHAT HAPPENED

It was the classic "if only" game. The big chore when playing at Kansas City is somehow avoiding the turnovers. The Saints couldn't do it. The Chiefs got a pick-six to take a 14-7 lead in the second quarter and then Mark Ingram fumbled at the Chiefs 7 after a six-yard run on first down early in the fourth quarter. Around those two miscues, the Saints were able to throw for 359 yards and run for 104 against the Chiefs' defense. New Orleans had seven more first downs and 137 more total yards than Kansas City ... and lost. The Chiefs didn't run a single play in the red zone in the entire game.

THE GOOD STUFF

The offense was productive again on the road. The offense was 9-of-14 on third down, compared to 3-of-9 for Kansas City. The running game rushed for 4.7 yards per game, compared to 4.0 for the Chiefs. Rookie receiver Michael Thomas continues to shine with 10 receptions out of 13 targets for 130 yards. Willie Snead had 11 targets with nine grabs for 87 yards.

THE BAD STUFF

The kicking game continued to struggle. After scoring a touchdown on the first drive of the second half to narrow the lead to 21-14, Wil Lutz had a short kickoff and the Chiefs ran it back to the 38. Then just prior to the half, Tommylee Lewis tries to field a punt at the Saints' 5 and fumbles it. He recovered at the 4, but the offense drove 49 yards and punt right before the half from the N.O. 48.

The defense did some positive things, but gave up two long touchdown passes and allowed an 18-yard completion on third-and-17 in the fourth quarter. The other bad mistake by the defense was a 15-yard roughness flag on Nick Fairley just before the two-minute warning that prevented the Chiefs from facing a third-and-8 with the Saints still having one timeout and the two-minute warning in its corner.

Once again, the Saints wasted two timeouts - one to prevent a delay flag and the other to challenge on a play they had no chance to win - in the second half. And once again, not having timeouts at the end of the game hurt the cause.

TURNING POINT(S)

These two were obvious. One, the Sorensen 48-yard interception return for a touchdown in the second quarter and then the Ingram fumble inside the Chiefs' 10 early in the fourth quarter down 24-14.

LAGNIAPPE

The Chiefs moved to 5-4 in the all-time series with the win ... for the 11th time in the 11 meetings in the series, one of the two teams either scored 27 or 17 points ... Brees became the first quarterback to reach 100 300-yard passing games ... The first-drive touchdown by New Orleans was the fourth straight game the Saints scored on their first drive to set a new franchise record ... The 130-yard receiving day was Thomas' first 100-yard day of his career (only Marques Colston and Danny Abramowicz have ever had that many catches and yards in the same game) ... The TD drive that opened the second half lasted 8:03, the longest drive since Sept. 27, 2015 game at Carolina ... Thomas Morstead had four punts inside the 20, tying the third best total of his career.

(© 2016 WWL)


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