KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Like a slick and experienced salesman, Drew Brees knows how to close.
Kansas City, desperate for a win, scored in the fourth quarter to get within seven points and had the home crowd raising a ruckus. But Brees coolly took the NFL’s top-ranked offense on a 12-play drive that ate 6 minutes and 27 seconds off the clock and was capped by Garrett Hartley’s 35-yard field goal.
A moment later, Usama Young ended Tyler Thigpen’s string of 161 passes without an interception and New Orleans preserved a 30-20 victory. It was the Saints’ first win on the road since last Dec. 12 in Atlanta.
“The one with more than 3 minutes to go sealed the deal,” Brees said. “Only being up by a touchdown, we realized we needed to put a drive together to put it away.”
The Saints (5-5) were 0-4 on the road before Brees threw for 266 yards and a touchdown. New Orleans sacked Tyler Thigpen four times and made two great defensive stands near the goal line.
“This is our time to make a run,” Brees said. “We’ve said that for a while now.”
Thigpen connected with Dwayne Bowe on two touchdown passes and became the first Chiefs quarterback to throw for a score in four consecutive games since Trent Green in 2005. But it wasn’t enough to keep the Chiefs (1-9) from losing for the 18th time in 19 games.
“It’s really frustrating,” defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey said. “There were some things that we could have done differently. We were hanging with them and making some plays. But it always comes down to a couple of plays that we should have made that end up determining the outcome of the game.”
Lance Moore had eight catches for 102 yards, including a 47-yard touchdown strike when he got behind Ricardo Colclough on the Saints’ second play of the third quarter.
Colclough was one of several unemployed players the Chiefs signed two weeks ago to shore up their injury-wrecked defense.
“It was a slant and go. Lance did a great job of selling it and the corner bit,” Brees said. “The second play of the second half really set the tempo for what we were going to do.”
Running back Larry Johnson, who had been benched three games by the Chiefs and suspended one by the league, made his long-awaited first start in a month and had 67 yards on 19 carries. Johnson also fumbled twice.
Jarrad Page intercepted Brees on the Saints’ second possession.
“I was so mad,” Brees said. “I knew the coverage. It is one of those things where you look at it from the press box or on film tomorrow and say, ‘What are you doing?”’
Nine plays later, Thigpen connected with Bowe on a 6-yard TD pass and the Chiefs, for the fourth game in a row, had a lead they would let fritter away in a loss.
“We’ve got to do better,” Thigpen said. “We’ve got to win a game. That’s the bottom line. It’s not about me. it’s not about what I do or what I put up stat-wise. It’s about this team and we want to win a game.”
The Chiefs had a first-and-goal from the 1 in the first half and a first-and-goal from the 8 in the second. But each time, they had to settle for field goals by Connor Barth. On the Chiefs’ first opportunity, Johnson appeared to break the plane of the goal line with a vault over the line. The Chiefs challenged the no-TD call, but it was confirmed.
Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Dwayne Bowe (82) pulls in a touchdown catch over New Orleans Saints cornerback Usama Young (28) to get the Chiefs within 7 points early in the fourth quarter of an NFL football game in Kansas City, Mo., Sunday, Nov. 16, 2008. The Saints won 30-20. (AP)
“I think Larry really and truly scored on that one,” Thigpen said. “That’s just a tough call by the ref.”
The Chiefs’ line didn’t have a good day, after showing improvement the previous two weeks.
“I thought we tackled pretty well and kept the ball in front of us,” New Orleans coach Sean Payton said. “We were able to force them to kick some field goals. I thought that was important, early on especially.”
Deuce McAllister scored on a 1-yard run for New Orleans in the second quarter and Hartley also had field goals of 30 and 23 yards.
“It was an important win, and that’s really where we’re at right now,” Payton said.
The Saints host Green Bay on Sunday in their first game in their own stadium since Oct. 12, playing two road games, a bye and the “home” game in London since then. … McAllister tied Dalton Hilliard for first place on New Orleans’ career list with 53 touchdowns. … The Chiefs tied a season-high with 21 first downs. They’ve had 330 or more yards of total offense in each of the past four games, but lost every one of them.