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New Orleans Saints struggle in all three phases in loss to Houston Texans

The Saints offense went 0 for 3 in the red zone against Houston

Check out the game action shots from the New Orleans Saints game against the Houston Texans in Week 6 of the 2023 NFL season.

Houston – This one won't go down smoothly, and it shouldn't.

To a man, the New Orleans Saints believed they gift-wrapped a 20-13 loss to the Texans on Sunday at NRG Stadium, and it would be difficult to argue otherwise.

New Orleans (3-3) had its chances, but failing to capitalize on them pushed the team back to .500 instead of two games over that mark. And the Saints now have a short week to put it back together before facing Jacksonville on Thursday night in the Caesars Superdome.

OFFENSE: Plenty of sizzle, but not nearly enough steak Sunday. The Saints totaled 430 yards and quarterback Derek Carr (32 of 50 for 353 yards and a touchdown, with an interception) had his best game yardage-wise as a Saint. Too, Carr and the offense produced several chunk plays with completions of 34 and 51 yards to receiver Rashid Shaheed, and a 24-yard completion to receiver Chris Olave. But New Orleans was 0 for 3 in the red zone, coming away only with a field goal in the three trips. The run game was so-so – 25 attempts for 89 yards – but the Saints got away from it somewhat because of an early deficit. Protection wasn't pristine, as Carr was sacked twice, but the line wasn't the weak link Sunday.

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DEFENSE: It took a half for the defense to figure out the Texans offense. Houston scored 17 in the first half, but only could add a field goal to it in the final two quarters. And the Saints did to Texans C.J. Stroud something that hadn't happened to him at all (an interception, after entering the game without throwing one in his first 186 NFL passes) and something that hadn't happened to Stroud since Week 2 (sacked him twice, by defensive end Carl Granderson and linebacker Demario Davis). In truth, it should have been enough and probably would have been enough on most days. But Stroud (13 for 27 for 199 yards and two touchdowns) was a real problem in the first half, when he completed 10 of 17 for 141 yards and both touchdowns. And New Orleans gave up 97 rushing yards on 20 carries in the first half, too, which helped put the team in position to have to play from behind. Linebacker Zack Baun had his first career interception but during the return, fumbled it back to the Texans. That play pretty much symbolized the first half.

SPECIAL TEAMS: A week after kicker Blake Grupe earned NFC Special Teams Player of the Week with field goals of 53 and 54 yards against New England, he missed 52- and 29-yard attempts against the Texans. If he'd made both, another red zone field goal in the fourth quarter would have given New Orleans the lead. That's the life of a kicker in the NFL; almost every kick turns into a clutch kick, especially when your offense doesn't score touchdowns in the red zone.