Unheralded safety Daniel Sorensen leads Chiefs past Saints
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Daniel Sorensen saw the pass from Drew Brees get tipped by Eric Berry and ricochet off the helmet of Willie Snead IV, and made sure he was there to grab the deflection out of midair.
Then, the former undrafted safety out of BYU turned into a running back.
Sorensen took the interception on a hip-swiveling 48-yard touchdown return to give the Kansas City Chiefs the lead over the New Orleans on Sunday. He later added a sack, finished with six tackles and had another pass defended in a 27-21 victory over the Saints .
“We actually had a talk about that this week. He’s a heck of an athlete,” Berry said. “We ask him to do a lot of things and he does them very well. It’s all about finding that rhythm.”
It wasn’t just Sorensen making plays, though. It was the entire Chiefs defense.
Steven Nelson finished with nine tackles from his cornerback spot. Marcus Peters recovered a key fumble in the fourth quarter, when New Orleans was driving into the Chiefs red zone. And safety Ron Parker forced that fumble and another in making life miserable for Brees and Co .
“We knew going up against a team like the Chiefs, with what they do offensively with ball control, time of possession and being super-efficient, we knew our execution had to be at a premium,” Brees said.
Instead, the Saints finished with 463 yards of offense, modest by their standards. Brees became the first player with 100 games with at least 300 yards passing.
“Fumble in the red zone and we’re not a good enough team to overcome some of those mistakes,” Saints coach Sean Payton said. “Situationally, we’ve got to be better. We’ve got to be better as coaches, starting with me. It’s disappointing.”
Other notes and takeaways from the Chiefs’ ninth straight home win:
GETTING JUMPY: The Saints were repeatedly penalized for false starts and offsides, and a big reason was the crowd noise inside Arrowhead Stadium. It made communication tough all afternoon.
“They have a good environment, a great environment,” Saints running back Mark Ingram said. “You just have to stay focused. They did a good job of making it loud and we had a lot of pre-snap penalties. Those are self-inflicted wounds that we can control and we didn’t.”
OPENING SUCCESS: The Saints scored on their opening drive against Kansas City, the fourth straight game they’ve done it. That’s a first during the Brees-Payton era in New Orleans.
“You spend a lot of time and diligence coming up with a game plan and obviously to start the game, we talk about what starting fast does for the team and momentum,” Brees said. “Historically, we have been good in that regard. You really have to be great with your execution and inevitably you probably have to convert a few third downs. It’s all of those things wrapped into one.”
STREAKING AT HOME: The Chiefs’ home winning streak dates to Oct. 11, 2015, when the Chiefs lost 18-17 to the Chicago Bears. It is tied for the fourth-longest streak in franchise history, and is four short of the record set during the 2002 and ’03 seasons.
PICK YOUR POISON: Sorensen’s interception return was the Chiefs’ sixth pick-six since the start of the 2015 season, the most in the NFL. It was also their league-leading 32nd interception over that span, and 10 of them have come this season alone.
UP NEXT: Things don’t get any easier for the Saints, who return home to face the Seahawks and their brutal defense next Sunday. Kansas City hits the road to Indianapolis, where the Chiefs blew a 28-point lead in a playoff defeat two years ago.
“Defense played well. Special teams played well. Offense played well. We played together as a team, collectively,” Chiefs running back Spencer Ware said. “But we’ve got to keep it going.”