OFFENSE: One pick six, one fumble in the red zone and seven penalties equals a really, really difficult path to victory. Not impossible, but perhaps approaching that territory when you're on the road, the opponent doesn't turn it over and it only commits four penalties. The New Orleans Saints made their time at Arrowhead Stadium much more laborious than it should have been with two games' worth of self-inflicted wounds rolled into one afternoon and, ultimately, into a 27-21 loss to the Chiefs. Drew Brees(37 of 48 for 367 yards and three touchdowns) nearly was flawless, but his one attributable mistake (an interception) was returned 48 yards by Danny Sorensento give Kansas City a 14-7 lead with 46 seconds left in the first quarter, a lead the Chiefs never relinquished. Mark Ingram(16 carries for 62 yards, four catches for 20 yards and a touchdown) was better than solid, but his one mistake (a lost fumble after a 6-yard run to the Chiefs' 7-yard line, with 8:26 left, caused by free safety Ron Parker'sball-punch tackle) was a wind-sucking body blow for a team that trailed 24-14 and figured, at worst, to walk away from the drive with a field goal. Toss in the illegal procedure, false start and delay of game penalties (a combined four in the first half, and six overall) and the Saints simply didn't do a good enough job of getting out of their own way against Kansas City. Three of the four losses for New Orleans (2-4) have been by six points or less, and all three of those were decided in the last three minutes. The team still is looking for ways to not beat itself; Sunday's performance wasn't a progressive move in that direction after it showed it could do exactly that a week earlier, against Carolina.
DEFENSE: Numbers-wise, there were a lot of digits to like for the Saints defensively. The biggest and best number was 20 points, which was the number of points allowed by a unit that entered the game allowing 33.8 points per game, most in the league. Say what you will, but 20 points allowed, 326 yards allowed, six stops on nine third-down attempts and 214 passing yards allowed are acceptable numbers on most, if not all, Sundays. Yes, Chiefs quarterback Alex Smithwas efficient (17 for 24 for 214 yards and two touchdowns, with no interceptions and no sacks) and, yes, running back Spencer Warewas effective (17 carries for 77 yards, two receptions for 54 yards and a touchdown). But while the Saints offense effectively was moving the ball (463 total yards), the defense was getting off the field by making third-down stops. You want to see better tackling than was on display during Ware's 46-yard catch-and-run touchdown (much more weaving run than catch), and cornerback Ken Crawleyhas to do a better job of locating the ball and maintaining position on the receiver than he did on Tyreek Hill's38-yard touchdown catch from Smith. But for a defense that was allowing that many points and more than 400 yards per game, it was a better than passable effort. Nick Fairley'slate penalty – a personal foul for unnecessary roughness with 2:18 left was a significant lapse; it occurred after the defense had limited the Chiefs to a 5-yard gain on second-and-13, and had pushed Hill out of bounds to stop the clock on the play. It was huge, as it gave the Chiefs a first down and, ultimately, led to a 41-yard field goal by Cairo Santosand the final points in a 27-21 Chiefs victory. But the defense likely did much of what it set out to do.
SPECIAL TEAMS: One bit of unwelcome excitement was provided by the return team: Tommylee Lewis'muff and minus-1 yard punt return in the second quarter, which pinned the Saints at their 4-yard line with 2:13 left in the first half. Fortunately, the offense dug out of the hole and flipped field position before Thomas Morsteadwas called on to punt. Lewis did add an 11-yard punt return and 26-yard kickoff return, but the star of the show on special teams was Morstead. He punted four times for a gross and net average of 48.3 yards, and helped neutralize Chiefs returner Tyreek Hill(one punt return for no yards). All four of Morstead's punts were inside the 20. Kicker Wil Lutzalso did a nice job of keeping Hill out of play for the most part (two touchbacks), but Lutz's mis-hit after the Saints' opening touchdown drive in the second half – it went 47 yards, to the Chiefs' 18, where it was fielded and returned 19 yards by Demetrius Harris– gave the Chiefs a short field. They drove 42 yards in seven plays, and Santos' 39-yard field goal pushed their lead to 24-14. Hopefully, Lewis fields cleanly in the future and Lutz doesn't produce another mishit. Otherwise, more solid than not, balanced by another outstanding day by Morstead.