The New Orleans Saints, obviously, didn't win the game against Kansas City on Sunday in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The 32-29 loss was their second straight, and prevented New Orleans (10-4) from winning the NFC South Division title for the fourth straight year.
But, as always, there were several noteworthy performances submitted by the Saints, who will try to sew up the division on Christmas Day against Minnesota.
OFFENSE: There wasn't a knockout performance from the collective unit. In truth, it mostly was a daylong struggle; the Saints totaled just 285 yards and converted just 1 of 11 third-down attempts. But running back Alvin Kamara found the end zone, because that's what Kamara does as well as any player who ever has worn a Saints uniform. His 14-yard touchdown catch on a pop pass from Brees was Kamara's 15th touchdown this season (five receiving, 10 rushing), helped him amass 40 yards on three catches, and paired with his 54 yards on 11 carries to give Kamara 94 yards on 14 touches. He has totaled at least 700 rushing yards and 700 receiving yards in three of his four NFL seasons, and has scored at least 14 touchdowns in each of those seasons.
DEFENSE: It's possible that Trey Hendrickson's numbers – as impressive as they were – did not properly encapsulate his presence and dominance. The fourth-year defensive end wore out Chiefs left tackle Eric Fisher, and that's no exaggeration. Hendrickson had two sacks, a tackle for loss and five quarterback hits – he might have caused an incompletion on all of the hits – as the Saints' defensive line did its best to punish Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes with a controlled rush. New Orleans had 11 quarterback hits and when Hendrickson, who again is tied for the NFL lead with 12.5 sacks, wasn't taking Mahomes to the ground, he was bull-rushing Fisher into Mahomes' chest. His breakout season continues to help give the Saints a pass-rushing advantage.
SPECIAL TEAMS: No way is there a better pair of NFL gunners than Saints defensive backs T.J. Gray and Justin Hardee Sr. Gray and Hardee have the smarts, athleticism and desire to make the job an art form. They combined for three special teams tackles on punt returns, but it's the way they arrive almost simultaneously with the ball, and the willingness to continue tracking the returner even after the catch, that gives New Orleans an edge game after game. They're sure tacklers and they understand the impact they can make with a big play on special teams. Chiefs returners combined for minus-15 yards on five punt returns, and Gray and Hardee had as much to do with that as anyone.