The New Orleans Saints lost a last-minute heartbreaker to the Houston Texans 17-13 in the team's preseason debut Saturday at NRG Stadium in Houston.
A number of Saints didn't dress for the game, including Jameis Winston, Alvin Kamara, Mark Ingram, Jarvis Landry, Michael Thomas, Marcus Davenport, Cam Jordan, David Onyemata, Alontae Taylor, Pete Werner, Zack Baun and Tyrann Mathieu.
The defense starred in the Lone Star state Saturday night, allowing 275 total yards from Houston. It locked down the Texans completely in the first and third quarters, allowing 33 yards in each period and one combined first down. New Orleans forced six punts and allowed just three third down conversions on 12 attempts.
The Saints forced three turnovers, as linebacker Chase Hansen, safety Justin Evans and defensive back Brian Allen all had interceptions. Hansen finished with five tackles, two tackles for loss, one special teams tackle and a pass defensed after signing with the team Monday. Nephi Sewell led the team with six total tackles.
Ian Book came in relief of Dalton after the opening drive and played the rest of the game. He finished 15-of-22 for 121 yards and an interception while adding four carries for 22 yards.
With Kamara and Ingram out, Washington got the first crack at running back for the Saints, finishing twith nine carries for 19 yards and three receptions for 18 yards and a touchdown. Tony Jones Jr. saw action after Washington and finished with nine carries for 19 yards and one catch for 13 yards. Devine Ozigbo handled most of the work in the third quarter, finishing with eight carries rushes for 26 yards and one catch for -1 yard. Abram Smith saw some run in the fourth quarter with seven carries for 30 yards and one catch for 12 yards. He did lose a fumble at the goal line.
The receiver corps was led by undrafted rookie Dai'Jean Dixon (three catches for 33 yards) and second-year wideout Kawaan Baker (two catches for 31 yards). Tre'Quan Smith, Marquez Callaway and rookie Chris Olave started with Landry and Thomas out. The rookie from Ohio State had his first career catch on a four-yard completion in the first quarter.
It was an uneventful first half of play, highlighted by the Dalton touchdown and the Hansen interception. The Saints converted 10 first downs to the Texans' eight, but Houston out-gained New Orleans 134-119. Washington led the team in receptions with three, Callaway had a team-high 19 first half receiving yards on one catch. Defensive back J.T. Gray had a team-leading first half five tackles.
Evans' interception highlighted a monotonous third quarter. Evans made a diving pick off the Jeff Driskel pass after the ball was tipped by teammate Demarcus Fields, setting up the first points of the second half. Evans finished with two tackles. The Saints allowed just one third down conversion and one first down in the third period of play.
After a scoreless third quarter, backup kicker John Parker Romo powered through a 36-yard field goal with just over 12 minutes to go in the fourth quarter. After Smith fumbled inside the five-yard line, the Saints forced their third turnover of the night, as defensive back Brian Allen intercepted Driskel on a deep ball. Like Hansen, Allen just signed with New Orleans Monday.
Taking a 13-10 lead deep into the fourth quarter, the Saints allowed the Texans to go 90 yards in seven plays to take the lead and steal the win on a six-yard touchdown pass from Driskel to Johnny Johnson III.
The Saints will travel to Green Bay next week for two joint practices before their second preseason game against the Packers on Friday, Aug 19 at 7 p.m. CST.