KC Chiefs learn how tough they are in slugging match against Saints

Dec 20, 2020; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; Kansas City Chiefs safety L'Jarius Sneed (38) sacks New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) during the first half at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 20, 2020; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; Kansas City Chiefs safety L'Jarius Sneed (38) sacks New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) during the first half at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports /

The Chiefs learned how tough they are in a slugging match with the Saints on Sunday night.

Let’s talk about the wrong sport for a second. When it comes to boxing, there are a few generally accepted styles of fighter who will step into the ring—think “slugger” or “swarmer.” For our purposes, all things related to the Kansas City Chiefs, the only term that really matters is out-boxer.

Muhammad Ali was an out-boxer. Gene Tunney was an out-boxer. The out-boxer wins because he’s faster than his opponents. The punches land like lightning, out of nowhere. The jabs and cuts arrive consecutively, a perfect dance of footwork and handcraft. It’s a violent art installation, a beautiful display of speed, quickness, and precision that pushes the opponent back on his heels and keeps him there until he falls over or lasts long enough to hear the final bell.

That’s the Chiefs in today’s NFL. They have the MVP quarterback who throws like a shortstop. They have the NFL’s fastest player, whose well-earned nickname is Cheetah. They have the game’s ultimate mismatch at tight end. Their backfield tandem was the top rookie running back in this year’s draft and a former All-Pro. Oh yeah, there are numerous other players who can also clock a 4.3 second time in a 40-yard dash.

The Chiefs, as a team, are the out-boxer.

All of this is important because the Chiefs stood toe-to-toe with a slugger on Sunday night and walked away the winning team. They did it on the road. They did it in the face of dirty play. They did it after a string of other tough wins that have taken them to the brink time and again.

On Sunday night, the Chiefs got the best of the New Orleans Saints in what turned into a very physical football game. It was the way the Saints wanted to play it all along.

The Saints knew that they couldn’t keep up with the out-boxer. No one can. The Chiefs will outscore you every time. Each week, teams try to come up with various ways to slow the Chiefs, to keep the offense on the sidelines, to disrupt the team’s offensive creativity in some way, shape, or form. For the Saints, they had a single plan: to come in with a bruising, even brutal, game plan to make sure Patrick Mahomes and the rest of the Chiefs felt this one in the locker room after the game—win or lose.

You could see it all game long, from the chippy way players were getting after each other early to the ejection of pass rusher Cam Jordan for throwing a punch at Chiefs lineman Andrew Wylie. Give credit to the Saints: it worked much of the time. The Chiefs punted on four of their six first-half possessions and ultimately gave Tommy Townsend more work than he’s had in weeks. Townsend averages just over 3 punts per game. On Sunday, he punted six times—his highest total of the season.

The Saints defense had 3 sacks and another 4 tackles for loss. They hit Mahomes 11 times—ELEVEN—including a hit from both sides on a fumble late in the game that made Chiefs Kingdom cringe. The Saints were ready to hit early and often and things even got especially ugly in the fourth quarter when the Chiefs lost Clyde Edwards-Helaire near the goal line and then saw Le’Veon Bell go down on a dirty facemask and hit by linebacker Demario Davis.

All of this is important because the Chiefs slugged the Saints right back. When the Saints took the lead early in the third quarter on Drew Brees first touchdown pass of the night, it looked as if New Orleans was stealing the momentum. The Chiefs came right back with a knife-through-butter drive that gave them the lead right back. When Jordan was ejected, Andy Reid called a pitch right where he would have been, and Jordan was forced to watch Le’Veon Bell score from 12-yards out on the giant video screen overhead while walking back to the locker room.

Late in the game, the Saints found ways to believe on more than one occasion when they forced a fumble from Mahomes and when they tried to get the ball back at the last second. In both instances, the Chiefs answered with exactly what was needed to keep the slugger at arm’s reach. First, Harrison Butker put the Chiefs back up by two scores and then Mahomes and company moved the chains just enough to force the clock to bleed out.

On Sunday, we learned that the Chiefs aren’t just here to run it back. If they need to punch it in, they can. If they need to slug it out, they will. If they simply need to be the last man standing on the road after a series of already-tough games while being perilously thin in the trenches, they’ll do just that.

These Chiefs are built to win, and despite their reputation as an out-boxer, the reality is that they can win in any ring against any opponent. They learned that tough lesson on Sunday against the Saints.