Saints vs Chiefs; the Super Bowl that should have been

Adam Forsythe / February 2, 2019

By now, you’ve likely at least heard about the infamous no-call in the NFC Championship. The call changed the game and eventually, the Rams won as they advanced to the Super Bowl and sent the Saints packing. However, the AFC Championship was also plagued by poor officiating. The New England Patriots eventually won the matchup in overtime and the Kansas City Chiefs were denied a Super Bowl berth. Throughout the season, many sports fans and analysts alike had the Saints and the Chiefs as the favorites to reach Super Bowl LIII due to their dynamic offenses. In preparation for Sunday’s big game between the Rams and the Patriots, I decided to see just how explosive a hypothetical matchup between the Saints and Chiefs would be.

1st Quarter

The Saints won the opening coin toss and elected to receive the initial kickoff. Taysom Hill, the team’s Swiss army knife, zoomed past the Chiefs’ special teams unit as he brought the kickoff all the way to the 40-yard line in Chiefs’ territory. Quarterback Drew Brees and the Saints’ offense quickly got to work. On their first offensive play, Brees threw a short pass to running back Alvin Kamara who turned the reception into a 23-yard gain. With 17 yards to go, Brees handed the ball off to running back Mark Ingram as he busted his way through the defense for a nine-yard gain. On the next play, Brees connected with wide receiver Keith Kirkwood for a touchdown in the corner of the end zone. Kirkwood made a spectacular catch, reminiscent of Santonio Holmes’ toe-tapping grab in Super Bowl XLIII. Kicker Will Lutz converted on the extra point attempt bringing the score to 7-0.

On the ensuing kickoff, Lutz sent the ball through the back of the end zone, denying the Chiefs’ speedster Tyreek Hill of an attempt at a return. The young Chiefs’ quarterback Patrick Mahomes started off shaky as he was sacked for a six-yard loss by Saints’ defensive end Cameron Jordan. However, Mahomes quickly responded by throwing a deep bomb to Hill as they connected for a 53-yard gain. Now set up in Saints’ territory on the 22-yard line, Mahomes handed the ball off to running back Damien Williams. Unfortunately for Williams, he was playing against the number two rushing defense in the league. Williams lost three yards on the play. With 25 yards to go, Mahomes threw a quick strike to tight end Travis Kelce for a touchdown as Kelce overpowered Saints’ safety Marcus Williams in the end zone. Chiefs’ kicker Harrison Butker tied the game with his extra point attempt at 7-7.

On the next offensive drive for the Saints, the Chiefs’ defense showed up as safety Eric Berry intercepted Brees on the Saints’ 35-yard line. However, the Saints’ defense refuses to allow another touchdown to the high-flying offense of the Chiefs. The Chiefs converted on a 26-yard field goal attempt, giving them their first lead of the game with a score of 10-7.

2nd Quarter

On the Saints’ first possession of the second quarter, wide receiver Michael Thomas showed the world why he’s one of the most dominant receivers in the league. Thomas hauled in a 25-yard reception followed by another 32-yard catch. The Saints’ offense continued marching towards the end zone as Brees handed off to Ingram who fought his way to an eight-yard gain. Thomas capped off his stellar drive as he hauled in a spectacular the second Saints’ touchdown of the game. The Saints were once again in the lead as they brought the score to 14-10.

On the next offensive drive for the Chiefs, the inexperience of Mahomes was evident as he fumbled the snap on an early third down. Saints’ rookie defensive end Marcus Davenport quickly got on top of the ball giving the Saints excellent field position on the 46-yard line in Chiefs’ territory. The Saints took advantage of this great opportunity as Brees connected with Kamara for a 17-yard gain through the air. The Saints managed to get within ten yards of the end zone but the Chiefs’ goal-line defense made a stand against Brees and company. Lutz converted on a short field goal adding to the Saints lead. The score was now 17-10.

Known for their ability to score quickly, the Chiefs took a different approach with their next drive as they attempted to drain as much of the clock as possible. The Chiefs were able to drive down and score a touchdown as Mahomes connected with wide receiver Sammy Watkins for the seven-yard score. The Chiefs tied the game up at 17-17 and left only 17 seconds on the clock.

The Saints elected to take a knee and bring the game to halftime.

3rd Quarter

As great as the Saints started off the first half, the Chiefs were determined to match it. After an electrifying kick return from Tyreek Hill, the dynamic speedster wasn’t done yet as he hauled in a 54-yard touchdown reception from Mahomes on the first play of the third quarter. The Chiefs quickly took the lead as the score was now 24-17. Drew Brees knew he needed to come out and show the world why he is one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play in the NFL, and that’s exactly what he did. Brees conducted a perfect drive for the Saints as he completed eight passes on eight attempts. His eighth completion was a perfectly thrown ball to Michael Thomas in double coverage. Thomas’ one-handed grab will be one of the most memorable in Super Bowl history. Lutz connected on the extra point attempt as the Saints tied the game up at 24-24.

The Chiefs drove down the field forcefully on their next offensive drive, but they found it much more difficult to score in the red zone this time around. Cameron Jordan and the defensive line of the Saints stood strong and held the Chiefs to only a field goal. The Chiefs retook the lead with a score of 27-24.

The Saints began moving the ball quite well on their next drive but they were unable to get into the end zone. Not to be outdone by Harrison Butker, Will Lutz connected on a 53-yard field goal attempt to regain the tie at 27-27.

4th Quarter

The final quarter of this explosive game started off in the hands of the Chiefs. Patrick Mahomes and company were able to once again drive down the field against this Saints defense. However, this time, they were able to score a touchdown as Mahomes connected with Damien Williams for a 12-yard score through the air. The extra point attempt was good bringing the score to 34-27.

When the Saints got the ball next, Brees was determined to score a touchdown and tie this game once again. Brees sliced up the defense as he threaded the needle between two defenders, connecting with wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr. for a 36-yard completion. The wheels on the bus went ground and pound as the Saints got the running game going. With back to back runs of 17 and 13 yards, Mark Ingram II was fried up and ready for more carries, so that’s exactly what the Saints did in the red zone as Ingram took the carry for a nine-yard touchdown and celebrated by doing the famous backpack-kid dance. The score was once again tied at 34-34.

Mahomes and the Chiefs offense got to work as Travis Kelce hauled in four catches for 48 yards on this drive. Kelce also caught the touchdown reception from Mahomes. The Chiefs once again took control of the lead as the score was now 41-34.

The next offensive drive for the Saints couldn’t have gone any worse. Head coach Sean Payton tried to dial up a trick play. Brees took the snap from the center then threw what looked to be a wide receiver screen to Taysom Hill, but Hill caught the ball, looked downfield, and attempted to connect with Alvin Kamara on a deep route along the sideline. Unfortunately, Chiefs cornerback Kendall Fuller read the play perfectly and intercepted the pass.

After the interception, the Chiefs took over on their own 40-yard line. Mahomes handed off to Damien Williams who took the carry for a four-yard gain. The next play would be a defining moment for one of the Saints’ young defensive stars. Mahomes room the snap and looked to the right side of the field where he saw Tyreek Hill seemingly wide open on the sideline. Known for his tremendous arm strength, Mahomes put a little too much on the ball as his pass was overthrown and landed right into the hands of Saints’ cornerback Marshon Lattimore. Lattimore quickly turned around and sprinted down the sideline. With blockers in front of him the entire way, Lattimore returned the interception for a touchdown as all of the Who Dat Nation witnessed greatness. The play, which many are calling “The Immaculate Interception”, will go down in Saints’ history. The Saints tied the game once more at 41-41.

Mahomes and the Chiefs took over once again with a little over four minutes remaining. They were able to drain the clock down to about 1:32 remaining but were unable to score as the Saints’ defense held them to a three and out as Sean Payton called a timeout prior to the fourth down punt from the Chiefs.

With no timeouts left and 1:25 remaining on the clock, Drew Brees had his mind set on one thing and one thing only; bringing the Vince Lombardi Trophy back to New Orleans. Brees and the Saints methodically drove down the field as they crossed the 50-yard line with merely 26 seconds to go. Brees connected with Michael Thomas on the left sideline as Thomas dragged his toes for the reception similar to Mario Manningham’s spectacular catch for the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLVI. Now set up on the 34-yard line with 21 seconds remaining, Brees handed the ball off to Ingram for a four-yard gain before Brees spiked the ball with three seconds remaining.

Will Lutz made his way out to the 30-yard line to attempt a game-winning field goal. The Chiefs were out of timeouts as well so they didn’t have an opportunity to ice the kicker. As Lutz prepared for the kick of his life, the entire Who Dat Nation stood silently in hopes that Lutz could come in clutch for the team. The ball was snapped perfectly to Thomas Morstead as he held the ball for Lutz. Lutz ran up to the ball and sent it towards the goalpost. The ball sailed perfectly between the uprights as the Saints lifted Lutz in the air as they began celebrating their victory over the Chiefs with a score of 44-41.

Coach Payton was doused in an orange Gatorade bath as pandemonium overtook the field. The New Orleans Saints had once again reached the ultimate goal of securing the Lombardi Trophy.

Overview

Brees’ spectacular performance earned him his second Super Bowl MVP honor. Cornerback Marshon Lattimore was named the defensive player of the game after “The Immaculate Interception”. This game was as explosive as advertised with these two dynamic offenses. Luckily for the Who Dat Nation, Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints were able to outlast Mahomes and the Chiefs.

Although this year’s Super Bowl is already locked in to be a Rams vs Patriots matchup, perhaps next season the football world will be gifted a matchup between the Chiefs and Saints in Super Bowl LIV.

Be sure to follow me on Twitter: @a_forsythe1020

Also follow Gumbo Sports on Twitter: @GumboSports

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