Houston - The New Orleans Saints spotted the Houston Texans a 10-point lead before rolling to a 31-23 victory Sunday at Reliant Stadium that improved the team's preseason record to 3-0.
All three Saints quarterbacks - starter Drew Brees, Luke McCown and Ryan Griffin - tossed scoring passes as the offense rolled up 380 yards against a Texans defense that was missing defensive ends J.J. Watt and Antonio Smith (suspension).
Brees played just a quarter and a half and was 4 of 6 for 104 yards with a 51-yard catch-and-run TD by running back Pierre Thomas in the second quarter. McCown entered the game and didn't miss a beat, completing 10 of 14 passes for 118 yards and two TDs, one to rookie Kenny Stills and one to Andy Tanner. Rookie Ryan Griffin entered the game in the third quarter and tossed his TD the next period, a 15-yard strike to Tanner, who spiked the ball against the Reliant Stadium wall.
The Saints rested offensive starters Marques Colston and right guard Jahri Evans. Linebackers Junior Galette, Martez Wilson, Chris Chamberlain and Jonathan Vilma also didn't play.
After surrendering 164 yards to the Texans' first-team offense in the opening quarter the Saints' defense tightened things up, getting good pressure on starting quarterback Matt Schaub. Defensive end Cameron Jordan had an excellent second quarter sack of Schaub but linebacker Will Smith's right leg got rolled under on the play and he had to leave the game.
Schaub finished the game 15 of 26 for 213 yards for the Texans (2-1). He hooked up early and often with star receiver Andre Johnson, who had seven receptions for 131 yards against a host of different Saints defeneders.
Houston running back Ben Tate, starting in place of Arian Foster, also was effective, rushing 11 times for 74 yards and the team's first TD. His long run went for 39 yards.
The Saints will end the preseason Thursday at the Miami Dolphins before opening the preseason at home on Sept. 8 against division rival Atlanta. The Texans end the preseason with a game at Dallas before opening their regular-season schedule at the San Diego Chargers on Sept. 9.