KANSAS CITY, MO. — The Kansas City Chiefs used timely turnovers to slow down the high-scoring New Orleans Saints while relying on their own methodical ground-and-pound offense to hammer out a 27-21 victory at Arrowhead Stadium.
The Chiefs yielded Saints quarterback Drew Brees 367 passing yards, ending their 17-game regular season streak of not allowing a 300-yard passing game. But they also held the Saints to 10 points below their season scoring average, putting together a second-straight strong defensing outing following the bye week.
Safety Daniel Sorensen turned in two of the game’s biggest defensive plays. He first snagged a Brees pass tipped by fellow safety Eric Berry and taking it 48-yards for a touchdown. He later picked up the game’s only sack on a safety blitz.
“It was a good scheme by our defensive coaches that drew that up for this week,” Sorensen said about the sack. “I came free, which doesn’t happen all that often, so I had to make the play.
The Chiefs built a 21-14 halftime lead thanks to long touchdown catches from running back Spencer Ware and wide receiver Tyreek Hill.
Ware scored the team’s first touchdown to even the game at 7-7. Lined up wide as a receiver, Ware took a screen pass from Smith and weaved his way through traffic for a 46-yard romp.
The run demonstrated the combination of agility, speed and physicality that Smith says makes Ware an all-purpose back.
“He’s a good mix,” Smith said. “I think you see a guy that’s got great vision who’s hard to tackle, especially in open space.”
Smith found Hill in one-on-one coverage with Saints cornerback Ken Crawley. Hill flew past Crawley with the ball in the air, made the catch with one arm while the defender held the other, before finally breaking free to secure the ball.
“We knew coming in to this game we were going to have to fight down the field, getting off leverage of the DBs,” Hill explained. “That’s what did. I just listened to the coaches, and then just executed the play.”
The Saints trailed 24-14 with less than nine minutes to play and appeared ready to close the gap when safety Ron Parker punched the ball out of the hands of running back Mark Ingram. Cornerback Marcus Peters recovered for the Chiefs to end the scoring threat.
Smith takes shots
The Chiefs offensive line provided another clean pocket for Smith, allowing zero sacks for the game. Smith has not taken a sack since the opening drive of last week’s game against Oakland.
But Smith did take three hits while scrambling out of bounds and sliding to the ground. Fans at Arrowhead Stadium screamed for penalty flags, and Smith argued right along with them.
“I thought they kind of got out control,” Smith said. “I thought the refs weren’t controlling the game as well. I thought all three of them were very, very questionable.”
Hill committed a potential costly error on the team’s final drive. With the Chiefs trying to run out the clock, Hill took an end-around handoff for five yards before stopping the clock going out of bounds.
“Just a rookie mistake,” Hill said. “I’ve just got to know where I am on the field and slide or stay in bounds.”
Defensive end Tamba Hali picked up two neutral zone infraction penalties, giving him three in the last two games.
“We got to get that fixed,” Reid said. “We’ll go back. I’m sure he’s trying to crowd it as best he can, but you can’t do that.”
Light load for Charles
Running back Jamaal Charles took a step back in his return from knee surgery, getting just one carry for no gain. The team listed him questionable for the game on Friday, and he tested his knee on the field during pregame warmups before the team listed him as active for the game.
“I’m trying to be as careful as we can with him on it,” Reid said, “with him in my ear wanting to play. We were doing OK there in the run game. At one point, Ware was cranking it out for seven yards a carry. I thought we were moving it all right.”
The Saints surrendered 75 yards in penalties, including four false starts and two play clock violations. Center Max Unger said the team had too many flags and turnovers to win.
“That’s just maturity,” he said. “Obviously, we have to do a better job with that.”
Quarterback Drew Brees said the penalties disrupted potential scoring drives.
“That can’t happen against a team like this in this type of environment,” Brees said. “We got what we deserved.”