With one preseason game to go, Drew Brees was already showing off his Pro Bowl form.
The same cannot be said of the Kansas City Chiefs, whose murky quarterback picture was only muddied further Thursday night as Brodie Croyle struggled and a nearly perfect Brees led the New Orleans Saints to a dominating 30-7 victory.
Playing in all but one series in the first half, Brees hit 17 of 19 passes against the first-team defense for 182 yards and one touchdown. One of his passes was a beauty of a downfield dart that David Patten dropped. His quarterback rating when he retired for the night was 124.1 -- a sharp contrast to the 15.1 of Croyle.
The second-year pro, battling veteran Damon Huard for the starting job, was only 5-for-17 for 45 yards. Hurried and harried by a New Orleans defense that frequently beat the Chiefs' offensive line, Croyle was also sacked twice and threw his third interception in three outings. This game was viewed as a golden opportunity for him to wrest the job away from Huard, who was held out with a sore calf.
But instead of seizing his chance, Croyle seemed to help make the case for Huard, a 34-year-old career backup who played well last year when Trent Green was injured.
In three preseason games, the Chiefs (0-3) have scored only 29 points. The defense has scored eight.
Pierre Thomas, a free agent rookie out of Illinois who came into the game deep on the depth chart, scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns for the Saints on runs of six and 19 yards against the Chiefs' reserves and could have made a good case for himself to win a job.
Brees, a flawless 6-for-6 for 55 yards in his only offensive drive in last week's 27-19 victory over Cincinnati, hit his first five on this hot, sticky night. In both of their first two possessions the Saints drove nearly to the goal line, but were stopped.
Making a bold case to possibly unseat Devery Henderson for the No. 2 wide receiver spot was Patten. Despite his drop in the first quarter of a perfectly thrown long pass, the 11-year veteran wound up catching six passes for 75 yards and one touchdown. His 33-yard gainer gave the Saints a first-and-goal on the 5 on their first possession.
But on fourth-and-goal from the 1, Deuce McAllister was thrown for a 2-yard loss by Tank Tyler and Tamba Hali.
Reggie Bush rushed for 51 yards on six carries, including a 12-yard scamper on the second possession that was capped by the first of Olindo Mare's three field goals, 28-yarder.
Bush got loose around end for a 24-yard gain to help set up Mare's 31-yard field goal and a 6-0 lead with 6:37 left in the half. Mare was 3-for-3 with a 44-yarder in the second half for a 16-0 lead.
Brees led the Saints on a six-play, 45-yard drive late in the half capped by Patten's 4-yard touchdown catch when he got wide open in the back of the end zone.
Dwayne Bowe, the Chiefs' first-round pick last year, made his first professional catch. But he also dropped a well thrown ball near the goal line in the fourth quarter, giving the crowd even more reason to boo at the end of the lackluster outing.
Marcus O'Keith scored the Chiefs' touchdown on a 2-yard run with 1:53 left.