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John DeShazier: Saints top performers vs. Chiefs

Michael Thomas had the best game of his young career

OFFENSE: For the first time, but not likely the last, rookie receiver Michael Thomastakes the award. Thomas had the first 100-yard receiving game of his career (10 catches, 130 yards) and was a huge target for quarterback Drew Brees(37 for 48 for 367 yards and three touchdowns, with an interception) in the second half. Thomas caught five passes for 89 yards in the second half, including three catches for 47 yards on New Orleans' final scoring drive – a 10-play, 80-yard drive that ended on Brees' 10-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Colemanand pulled the Saints to within 24-21 with 2:33 left. Thomas' growth continues to impress; at no point has he appeared to be awed by circumstance or venue. He leads the Saints in receptions this season and impresses more by the day.

DEFENSE: All in all, it wasn't a bad day by the Saints' defense. It allowed 20 points and 326 yards on the road, and held the Chiefs to 3 of 9 on third-down attempts. Give a chunk of credit for those numbers to linebacker Nate Stupar, who the Saints signed primarily as a core special team player who would take some defensive snaps in the sub-packages, but has emerged as a starter. Stupar posted a team-high eight tackles and a leaping pass breakup during which he showed good awareness and athleticism. Stupar has been a good fit for what the Saints want to do defensively and Sunday, he and the defense did much of what they'd like to do every game.

SPECIAL TEAMS: We're running out of adjectives for punter Thomas Morstead. He has been that good this season. Frankly, provinciality aside, it's hard to believe that any punter in the league has been better than Morstead, whose consistency has been outstandingly routine for a unit that, at times, has shown some shakiness in almost every other area. Morstead had another banner day punting against the Chiefs; four punts for a gross and net average of 48.3 yards, each of them inside the 20-yard line. He punted a 46-yarder out of bounds at the Chiefs' 15-yard line, a 49-yarder that allowed cornerback Brian Dixonto tackle Tyreek Hillfor no gain at the 11, a 48-yarder that was downed at the 4 and a 50-yarder that Hill fair caught at his 5. Morstead has been money this season, and was gold Sunday.

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