November 16, 2008

Saints Outshoot Thigpen, Chiefs In Kansas City: Brees struggles with drops but Moore, Thomas power Saints past struggling Chiefs


Rookie K Garrett Hartley coolly converted a 35-yard field goal with just over 3 minutes left to widen the Saints’ lead over the Chiefs to 30-20, the final margin of victory as the Saints improved to 5-5. New Orleans received touchdowns runs from Deuce McAllister, Pierre Thomas and a receiving score by Lance Moore, as well as Hartley field goals.

RB Deuce McAllister, the team’s all-time leading rusher, moved into a tie for first place in the team record books for most career touchdowns (53), with RB Dalton Hilliard, in the second quarter.

“It’s good to get back to .500,” said QB Drew Brees. “This is a tough stadium to come and play in and the Chiefs were fighting and showed a lot of pride. It was a good win for us and we were able to put a drive together there at the end of the game that maybe earlier in the season we struggled to do in key situations.”

“The goal now is to get ready to play a good Green Bay team in the dome next Monday,” Brees said. “It’s going to be good to finally get back home in front of our fans.”

New Orleans churned out 363 yards of total offense as QB Drew Brees completed 24-of-35 passes for 260 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Thomas ran for 86 yards on 16 carries while Lance Moore set a career-high in receptions with 8 and receiving yards (102). Defensively the Saints were paced by CB Randall Gay (five passes defensed) and S Roman Harper (10 tackles). LB Scott Fujita added nine stops against his former team while newcomer DE Jeff Charleston racked up two sacks, with DE Bobby McCray and DE Will Smith each added one sack each. On the offensive side of the ball the Saints’ offensive line didn’t allow a sack in yet another game.

“I thought the story of the game was when we had to settle for field goals instead of touchdowns when we got the ball into the red zone,” said Chiefs Head Coach Herm Edwards. “I give them credit. They’re a tough team to play against and you know they are going to score points. We tried to limit the things they could do and had some success, but they are tough to play.”

“We knew we were going to score to score more points than we did to win this game,” Edwards said. “We just had the one takeaway and I thought we were going to have to get more than that.”

The Saints won the coin toss and elected to receive to opening kickoff. New Orleans began the drive at their own 29 and started the game with a four yard carry behind left guard by Deuce McAllister. Devery Henderson, a week after registering a 30-yard gain on an end around, saw his fortunes turn for a one-yard loss. Drew Brees then hit Lance Moore for a six-yard gain but the measurement was a half-yard shy of the first down and the Saints punted.

Kansas City began their first drive at their own 20 and picked up five yards with a quick out pass to Dwayne Bowe from QB Tyler Thigpen. Thigpen then came back and TE Brad Cottman down the middle of the field for a gain of 19 yards. The Chiefs quickly lined up but Head Coach Sean Payton challenged the ruling on the field, maintaining that Cottman juggled the ball and it hit the ground. Referee John Parry, following the video replay, ruled the play stood and KC had a first down at their own 45. RB Larry Johnson, who had missed the previous four games, then picked up eight yards on a carry over the left side of the line. Kansas City was flagged for a false start that cost them five yards. Thigpen and TE Tony Gonzalez attempted to connect but S Roman Harper defended the pass and caused an incompletion. CB Randall Gay then alertly swatted away a Thigpen pass down the sideline WR Will Franklin on third down and forced a KC punt.

The Saints began their second drive at their own 17 and Brees came right back and fired a pass over the middle to Moore for a gain of eight yards. Brees then checked down to Aaron Stecker for a gain of 12 yards and a first down. The three straight completions, though, came to a halt when S Jarrad Page stepped in front of a Brees pass intended for Devery Henderson and intercepted the ball at the Saints’ 47.

Thigpen then stepped up in the pocket and hit Bowe for a gain of 14 yards. Johnson, working out of a spread formation, took a handoff and picked up eight yards. LB Scott Shanle then nearly intercepted a pass intended for Gonzalez and forced an incompletion. Johnson was then stopped by DT Antwan Lake on a third-and-two after a one-yard gain. The Chiefs then employed the Wildcat Formation and Johnson staggered ahead for a four-yard gain and a first down. Johnson then ran off the left side and fumbled the ball when Kevin Kaesviharn stripped him but Gonzalez recovered the fumble. Thigpen then hit WR Mark Bradley for a 12-yard gain to the New Orleans 4. Roman Harper then tackled Johnson for a two-yard loss. On second down Thigpen lofted a fade pass into the corner of the end zone to Bowe, who caught the pass and KC led 7-0 with 5:31 left in the first quarter.

Saints return man Courtney Roby then bolted 54 yards on the ensuing kickoff return to the KC 44. Moore, thus allowing Roby to turn the corner and get into the clear along the Saints’ sideline, threw a key block on the return.

Pierre Thomas bolted behind center for a nine-yard gain to the 35 and then Brees hit Shockey for a one-yard gain and a first down at the 34. Brees’ next pass, intended for TE Mark Campbell, was broken up by LB Rocky Boiman on first down. Kansas City then was hit with a five yard penalty for off-sides and Thomas took a handoff for four yards on second down. On a third-and-one Thomas plowed through the middle for a seven-yard gain and a first down at the KC 18. The Saints then suffered a loss of 11 yards when C Matt Lehr’s snap was off the mark. Brees connected with Moore for 10 yards and Brees and Shockey hooked up for a seven-yard gain but shy of the first down marker. K Garrett Hartley converted a 30-yard field goal with :29 left in the first quarter that trimmed the Chiefs’ lead to 7-3.

DE Will Smith ended the first quarter by sacking Thigpen after Shanle flushed him into Smith’s arms at the KC 5.

Lance Moore fair caught a pass at the KC 43 and Brees tried a flea flicker to WR Marques Colston than was deflected out of Colston’s hands near the goal line. McAllister picked up five yards on a run and on a third down and five Brees found a wide open Thomas out of the backfield for a gain of 24 yards to the 19. McAllister then picked up five yards on a sweep to the right on first down. Brees then fired a quick slant to Colston for four yards before he was gang tackled. Thomas, on a third-and-one, picked up four yards to the KC and then McAllister tied Dalton Hilliard for the team record for most touchdowns in a career with his 53rd score that put the Saints ahead 10-7 in the second quarter.

Following a Hartley touchback KC started at their own 20. And two short completions to Gonzalez started the drive followed by two straight carries by Johnson. DE Jeff Charleston then recorded his first sack as a Saints when he drilled Thigpen for a nine-yard loss after blowing past a block. On a third-and-14 from the KC Thigpen scrambled out of the pocket and threw deep down the middle of the field to WR Will Franklin for a 42-yard gain. Johnson then picked up five yards on his next two carries to the Saints’ 8. Thigpen then hit Gonzalez with a seven-yard completion to the one-yard line. Johnson attempted to vault over the line and was ruled to have been stopped short of the goal line by the officials. KC Head Coach Herm Edwards challenged the spot and the play was reviewed by the officials and the call stood and KC was charged with a timeout. Jonathan Vilma then shot through and Randall Gay neatly defended stopped Johnson for a one-yard loss on second down and a pass attempt to Gay. KC elected to kick a field goal that knotted the game at 10-10 with 3:31 left in the first half.

The Saints took over at their own 33 and picked up a quick three yards on a handoff to Thomas and then a 10 yard completion from Brees to Moore. Brees and Colston then connected on a 15-yard out pass to the KC 41 on the final play before the two-minute warning. Thomas was then pushed out of bounds after a two-yard gain to the 39. Brees then lofted a pass down the middle of the field that was intended for Moore but fell incomplete. Kansas City took a timeout after the Saints deployed an offensive formation that confused the Chiefs’ defenders. Brees went right back to Moore, though on third down and the two connected for a 17-yard completion and first down. Brees then checked down a pass to Thomas for five yards to the 17 as Thomas stopped the clock by going out of bounds. The two then connected for a gain of six yards and a first down to the 11. Successive incompletions on first and second down and a third down pass to Shockey that picked up six yards let the Saints run the clock down to :02 with the ball on the five as Hartley trotted out to convert a 23-yard field goal.

New Orleans kicked off to begin the second half and Kansas City was docked 10 yards for a holding infraction that placed the ball at the 18-yard line of the Chiefs. DT Kendrick Clancy and Will Smith stopped Johnson after a two-yard gain. Vilma then blanketed Gonzalez and forced an incompletion. CB Jason David then made a nice play when he batted a pass down intended for Bradley and KC was forced to punt and could only managed a wobbly 32 yard effort from P Dustin Colquitt to the Saints’ 48.

Brees and Colston couldn’t quite connect on a first down pass attempt. Kansas City was flagged for a neutral zone infraction that cost them five yards and moved the ball into Chiefs territory. Brees then pump faked and caught a corner biting and fired a bullet down the sideline to a streaking Lance Moore, who glided into the end zone for the 47-yard touchdown and gave the Saints a 20-10 lead with 13:53 left in the third quarter. It was Moore’s six reception of the game for 96 yards.

Kansas City, trailing by 10, continued to work their spread offense and marched down the field effectively against the Saints’ defense. The Chiefs converted two third-and-one situations to move the ball inside the Saints’ 10. Kansas City was flagged for a holding call that cost them 10 yards and gave them a first and goal from the 18. LB Scott Shanle was flagged for an illegal contact infraction on the next play and the Chiefs where given new life with a first and ten from the 13. Johnson then took a direct snap and picked up 10 yards and a first down. Harper then halted Johnson at the line of scrimmage for no gain. On the play Gonzalez remained kneeling and limped off the field favoring his left foot. On second down with the ball at the three Shanle defended a pass intended for Bowe on a slant and forced an incompletion. Gay defended a pass intended for Bowe in the back of the end zone and forced the Chiefs to settle for a short field goal by Connor Barth that closed the Saints’ lead to 20-13 with 7:41 left in the third quarter.

The Saints began their next drive at their own 24 and began with a three yard gain by McAllister. Brees then took advantage of a maximum protection set and fired a high pass to Devery Henderson that the receiver soared high to reel in for a 13-yard gain. Brees and Henderson couldn’t connect on first down and Thomas picked up a hard five yards on an inside handoff. Brees then coolly waited for Shockey to make a move on a linebacker and fired an eight-yard bullet that converted the first down. Brees then zipped a short pass that Henderson took for nine yards. Thomas then burst through the middle for 16 yards. Brees and Shockey nearly connected for a score but the pass instead fell incomplete. Thomas then took a swing pass and broke three tackles or a 23-yard gain to the one yard-line. On the next play Thomas plowed through the middle for a touchdown, his fourth rushing touchdown of the season. The touchdown and extra point gave the Saints a 27-13 lead with 3:15 left in the third stanza.

The Chiefs continued to try to get back in the game by going exclusively to the passing game and drove to midfield with short passes. The Chiefs faced a third-and-two on the final play of the third quarter but they could not convert the first down as Thigpen overthrew Bradley in the flat. Thigpen, working out of the shotgun, then scrambled for a 32-yard gain before being hauled down by Usama Young. Young was flagged for a horse collar type of tackle that put the ball at the 3. Johnson was stopped for a two-yard loss, but the Chiefs came right back and scored on a five-yard pass from Thigpen to Bowe. The score was 27-20 with 13:54 left in the contest.

The Saints then were stopped on three downs by the Chiefs and were forced to punt and Kansas City took over at their own 27. Thigpen attempted to connect with Bowe down the sideline but Gay recorded his fourth pass defensed of the game with a timely break-up. Shanle once again nearly swiped a Thigpen pass intended for Gonzalez but the pass fell incomplete and the Chiefs were faced with a third-and-ten from their own 27 with 12:34 left. The Chiefs ran a draw and Jammal Charles picked up 12 yards and the first down. Jeff Charleston picked up his second sack of the day when he dropped Thigpen for a seven-yard loss. Johnson, though, took a screen pass and rumbled 20 yards for a first down to the Saints’ 48. Johnson then scampered for eight more yards to the 40. Thigpen then tried to hook up deep down the sideline with Bowe but Gay had him blanketed. Bradley then couldn’t handle a Thigpen throw on third-and-two and the Chiefs punted.

The Saints took over at their own 12-yard line and picked up three yards from Thomas on an off tackle run. Brees then fired a pass over the middle to Colston for an 11-yard gain. Thomas, despite facing nine defenders near the line of scrimmage, picked up 15 yards and then bulled his way for nine more yards on first down. McAllister then came in and smashed high way behind Jahri Evans for a first down. Brees caught the Chiefs jumping offside and took a shot for Henderson down the sideline that didn’t connect but the Saints took the five yards and sent Thomas up the middle for a gain of two yards to the KC 42 as the clock ticked under six minutes. Brees found Campbell for a gain of five yards to the 35. On the completion Campbell was up-ended and required attention from the team’s trainers. He limped off the field with the assistance of the trainers.

Brees took advantage of stellar play from the offensive line and fired a completion to Shockey for 11 yards and another first down. Thomas then picked up three yards and Brees and Shockey picked up six yards to the 17. The Chiefs called their first timeout before the Saints’ third-and-one play. Brees hit Moore on a quick screen but the receiver couldn’t pick up the first down and Kansas City called their second timeout with 3:32.

Hartley came out and coolly banged a 35-yard field goal through the uprights to push the Saints’ lead back up to 10 points, 30-20.

The game icing drive covered 71 yards in 12 plays and took over six minutes off the clock.

CB Usama Young then intercepted Thigpen just before the two-minute warning. It marked Young’s first career interception.

NOTES: Drew Brees made the 100th career start of his career today… Saints Owner Tom Benson, his wife Gayle, Saints Owner/Executive VP Rita Benson LeBlanc and Saints CFO Dennis Lauscha were part of a pre-game ceremony that recognized the efforts of local area Boy Scouts who came to the aid of residents of Iowa after massive flooding and tornadoes during the summer. The Benson’s purchased 100 tickets for the young men to attend the game.

Inactives: The Saints deactivated the following players for today’s game: QB Joey Harrington (3rd QB), RB Reggie Bush, CB Aaron Glenn, CB David Pittman, FB Mike Karney, T Jermon Bushrod, C Jonathan Goodwin and WR David Patten.

For the Chiefs, CB Patrick Surtain, CB Brandon Flowers, TE Michael Merritt, LB Pat Thomas, LB Derrick Johnson, T Andrew Carnahan, G Adrian Jones and DE Tamba Hali were all de-activated.

On Saturday the Saints placed defensive tackle Brian Young (knee) on the reserve/injured list and signed TE Buck Ortega from the practice squad. With the move from the active roster to the injured reserve list, Young becomes the 11th player in 2008 to end up on the injured reserve list.

TE Buck Ortega returned his first career kickoff return on a pooch kick … TE Jeremy Shockey recorded his 400th career reception in the fourth quarter ... the Saints return home after playing their last four games away from the Superdome next week when they host the Green Bay Packers on Monday night. Both the Saints and Packers own 5-5 records.

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