NEW ORLEANS — The New Orleans Saints were able to overcome a scoreless first quarter, and a rare Drew Brees red zone interception, to rally to defeat the visiting Houston Texans 30-28 inside the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Monday night. The victory was the first season-opening win for the franchise since 2013.
How It Happened
Brees started off the contest completing 8-of-9 passes for 66 yards but was unable to lead the Saints into the end zone in the first half. The best opportunity occurred on the second drive of the game as the Saints got all the way down to the 11-yard line but an interception in the red zone, Brees first since 2017, killed that momentum.
With the ball on their own six-yard line, the Texans wasted little time moving the ball downfield as Watson hit Will Fuller, who got behind cornerback Eli Apple, on a deep route down the middle of the field for a gain of 54 yards.
A few minutes later, Watson would put the Texans on the scoreboard first as Watson kept it and ran around the left edge to score a 21-yard TD on 4th and 1.
The Saints responded with a 32-yard field goal by Will Lutz but the Texans would scored another touchdown before halftime — this time Watson found DeAndre Hopkins for a two-yard touchdown strike over Marshon Lattimore.
With an energetic home crowd behind them, the Saints finally got the offense rolling in the third quarter with a pair of touchdown drives.
The first scoring drive was a quick 5-play, 83-yard drive capped by a 30-yard touchdown run by Latavius Murray. The second was a 9-yard pass from Brees to Taysom Hill.
In between those Saints scores was another touchdown by the Texans as Watson hooked up with Hopkins for a second touchdown — this one from 16 yards out.
That connection of Watson and Hopkins though proved to be a critical turning point in the game.
Late in the third quarter, Watson tried throwing a deep ball to Hopkins down the right sideline but it was intercepted by Saints safety Marcus Williams. Hopkins though would slam Williams down to the turf and was called for a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty.
That penalty set up a short field and the Saints took advantage as Brees found second-year wide receiver Tre’Quan Smith for a 14-yard touchdown to give the Saints their first lead of the night.
The Saints appeared to have sealed the win with a 41-yard pass to Ted Ginn Jr. on third down right before the two-minute warning. The Saints were then able to add a 47-yard field goal by Lutz.
Watson though would need only 13 seconds to retake the lead.
Watson would find Hopkins for a 38-yard reception down the left sideline which then set up a 37-yard touchdown to former Saint Kenny Stills that tied the game up at 27-27. The ensuing extra point though was no good but New Orleans rookie Chauncey Gardner-Johnson was called roughing the kicker and Ka’imi Fairbaim made the extra point the second time.
The ensuing drive, Brees quickly hit Ginn Jr. for a 15-yard gain and then an 11-yard reception to Michael Thomas. With 6 seconds left, Brees then hit Ginn Jr. for a 9-yard gain which set up another Lutz field goal.
Lutz nailed the 58-yard attempt to give the Saints the win.
Big Number: 6
The New Orleans defense pressured Houston’s Deshaun Watson all game long with blitz after blitz. The Saints sacked Watson six times in Monday night’s victory, including two by defensive end Trey Hendrickson. The biggest sack came with a little less than four minutes to go when Hendrickson sacked Watson on third down which forced the Texans to punt the ball away.
Player of the Game: Alvin Kamara
Kamara did not score a touchdown in Monday night’s victory but he came up big for the Saints especially in the second half. The third-year running back, and two-time Pro Bowler, rushed for 97 yards on 13 carries but was even bigger in the passing attack as he hauled in 7 receptions for 72 yards. It might not show up in the box score but Kamara picked up big runs and first-down catches that helped propel the Saints to the comeback win.
Next Up: The New Orleans Saints play at the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday in a rematch of last season’s NFC Championship Game. Kickoff is set for 3:25 p.m.