Quick hits from the Saints' opening win against Texans

Christopher Dabe

  • Two plays, 75 yards, 13 seconds. That's all the Texans needed to tie the score. Then, with help from a referee's roughing-the-kicker call, the second-chance extra point put Houston ahead by one point with 37 seconds left. Unreal.
  • Before then, the Saints appeared to have a comeback win in the bag. They went from being down 14-3 at halftime and then 21-10 in the third quarter to holding a 27-21 lead with less than a minute left.
  • But then... Wil Lutz from 58 yards as time expired. Was there ever a doubt? Unreal.
  • This offense runs through Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas, as you’d expect. Kamara’s frequent big gains kept the offense moving in the second half. Although he didn’t reach the end zone, that’s not what matters here.
  • 1-0. That's all that matters here.
  • Don’t forget about Taysom Hill. His touchdown reception in the third quarter drew the Saints within 21-17, while also reinforcing what Sean Payton said last week about Hill being “overlooked” when assessing the two-player tight end depth chart.
  • Third downs on defense were a problem for the Saints. Two penalties on third downs kept alive a drive that put Houston ahead 14-3. Then came Deshaun Watson’s third-and-10 scramble for 18 yards just before his second TD pass to Deandre Hopkins and a 21-10 lead.
  • Marshon Lattimore had an interception negated just before the touchdown because practice squad call-up MItchell Loewen went offsides just before the snap.
  • The Texans should never have scored a second touchdown in the first half. The P.J. Williams holding penalty came on a third-down play where Watson overthrew a receiver in the end zone. Soon after that, Cameron Jordan lined up in the neutral zone and gave Houston a second chance to convert on third down.
  • The big third-down play came with Marcus Williams ranging toward the sideline to pick off a deep pass intended for Hopkins late in the third quarter.
  • Did J.J. Watt play tonight? Credit Ryan Ramczyk with a job well done against his fellow Wisconsinite.
  • Run defense also was a problem for the Saints. Too many big gains on the ground. Not what you expect from one of the league’s best last season.
  • The Saints went three consecutive halves of football without a touchdown against the Texans. In a 2015 loss at Houston, the Saints failed to reach the end zone for the first time in the Payton/Brees era.
  • Latavius Murray ended that streak with his 30-yard touchdown run on the first drive of the second half.
  • The best touchdown chance in the first half came when Brees tried to thread a pass to Murray that Houston’s Whitney Mercilus intercepted near the goal line. That was the first of two failed red-zone chances for the Saints in the opening half.
  • The Saints mixed up their rush fronts in the early going, getting two sacks on Watson. Cameron Jordan sacked Watson on the opening possession, and defensive tackle Malcom Brown got to Watson on the second drive.
  • The third defensive series began with Jordan on the sideline and Trey Hendrickson on the field. That says a lot about the progress made by Hendrickson since he was a healthy scratch for much of last season. The Saints have big things in mind for him this season, his third in the NFL.
  • Things won’t get easier from here. The next three opponents -- Rams, Seahawks and Cowboys -- all reached the playoffs last season and won their season openers Sunday.

Game Day