Game Balls: Chiefs Vs. Saints

It took more than eight minutes into overtime of the third game of the season, but the Kansas City Chiefs finally picked up their first win. The roller coaster 27-24 victory over the New Orleans Saints very well may have saved the Chiefs season and gave us a glimpse of the team we were promised from the beginning.

Things didn’t look promising for Romeo Crennel’s crew for most of the day, with the Saints building a 24-6 lead as the Chiefs offense and defense both looked lost. The score putting New Orleans up 17 points was a TD by little used fullback Jed Collins, who spent time with the Chiefs in 2009.

Then Jamaal Charles took a hand off from Matt Cassel on the Chiefs next possession, outran the entire Saints defense for a franchise record 91-yard touchdown and all of a sudden we had a whole new ballgame.

Behind a fired up defense and an offense that could drive, but not find the end zone, Kansas City came all the way back to tie things up with just three seconds remaining on a 43-yard field goal by Ryan Succop.

In overtime, both teams had unsuccessful drives before the Chiefs offense once again started chipping away at the Saints defense. Using an 11-play drive — including a huge 4th and one conversion — Kansas City took the ball down to the Saints 13 yard line and setup Succop for a game-winning 31-yard field goal that sent the players into a frenzy.

For the first time since the opening week of the preseason, we get to hand out game balls following a victory to the best players on offense, defense and special teams.

Offense: Jamaal Charles

Hey, I remember this guy!

Charles was quiet for most of the first two weeks as the Chiefs eased him back into action following a torn ACL that cut his 2011 season short. Last week he even needed to sit out most of the second half when that knee was aggravated.

Well, not only was Charles ready to roll on Sunday, but he proved his speed is all the way back to where it was before his surgery. In running the Chiefs back into the game with his historic 91-yard touchdown, Charles gave his team new life and turned what was looking like another lopsided loss into what could be a season-saving victory.

The explosive back finished with 233 yards on 33 carries and hauled in six passes for 55 yards. It’s too much to expect Charles to touch the ball 39 times every game, but it’s hopefully a reminder to the Chiefs coaching staff that the offense operates best when he is used as the primary weapon.

Defense: Justin Houston

Don’t look now, but the potential we saw in Houston as a rookie last year seems to be turning him into a star. While the Saints were able to keep Tamba Hali under wraps, they had no answer for Houston.

The linebacker was in Drew Brees’ lap the entire second half, including a safety late in the fourth quarter that made it a three point game.

Houston finished with three of the Chiefs four sacks, two passes defensed and four quarterback hits. This is the type of performance that shows Houston is ready to go from being a guy that just cleans up after Hali to being his equal.

Special Teams: Ryan Succop

The Chiefs have had little to write home about on special teams this season and the first half of this game was no difference. On Sunday, Succop changed all that by kicking his way into the Kansas city record books once again.

Providing the only scoring for the Chiefs other than the Charles touchdown, Succop kicked a franchise-record six field goals. And unlike a lot of records that are set with no pressure, Succop kicked the game-tying field goal with three seconds left in regulation and followed that up with the game-winner in overtime.

Believe it or not, when Succop sent the Chiefs home winner with that kick in overtime, it was the first lead for Kansas City all season.

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