Injuries Doom Chiefs' Defense, Special Teams

The Kansas City Chiefs were beat by a better, healthier New Orleans Saints team Sunday. The Chiefs' depth chart was severely depleted again, with four defensive starters out due to injury in Derrick Johnson, Pat Thomas, Tamba Hali and Brandon Flowers.

Nickel back Patrick Surtain was also inactive Sunday, and the recently acquired Ricardo Colclough filled in for him. Colclough bit on a Drew Brees pump fake that directly resulted in a costly 47-yard touchdown pass to Lance Moore late in the third quarter.

The Chiefs' defense once again failed to put pressure on the passer, not recording a single sack. Only one NFL team, the Bengals, haven't at least doubled Kansas City's season total of six sacks. Before the season started, many Chiefs fans were worried about who was going to make up for the departed Jared Allen's 15.5 sacks, and apparently no one will. Allen's eight sacks this season outnumber the production of the entire Chiefs' defense.

Kansas City brought in free agent defensive end Jason Babin this week in hopes that he might be able to get some pressure on the quarterback, but he couldn't. As the Chiefs creep closer and closer to a high first-round draft pick, the need for a pass rusher becomes more evident.

The defense wasn't the only part of the affected by injuries. In an interview with Mitch Holthus last week, Herm Edwards noted that special teams is the first unit to be affected by injuries, and that proved to be true Sunday, as the Saints started with great field position numerous times. They started in Kansas City's territory twice, once on the 44-yard line and once on the 43. Their average possession started on the 36-yard line.

Though KC's offense fared better than their defensive and special teams' counterparts, they still left some points on the table. Twice they drove deep into Saints territory and were forced to settle for field goals.

On Kansas City's first field-goal drive, Larry Johnson leaped over the pile and seemingly broke the plane of the end zone, but no touchdown was signaled. Edwards threw his challenge flag, but the replay camera was positioned on the side of the field facing Johnson's back and the refs were unable to overturn the call. The Chiefs' next field goal was the result of a costly holding call on fullback Mike Cox and consecutive incomplete fade passes to Dwayne Bowe.

The next field goal drive was the result of a penalty and bad play calling. It became apparent that offensive coordinator Chan Gailey had only one goal-line passing play in Sunday's game plan – a fade pass to Dwayne Bowe. Tony Gonzalez is usually sextuple-teamed in the red zone, so you can see why the Chiefs didn't attempt a pass to him, but if they're going to run the spread option, they might as well steal a play from Mizzou's playbook, like the oft-called bullet to Chase Coffman in the back of the end zone. If Gonzalez is covered with Bowe running a decoy fade, rookie tight end Brad Cottam has the height and skill to execute that play.

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