The New Orleans Saints defeated the Houston Texans, 34-27, on Saturday night in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
The Saints (2-2) will now face the Tennessee Titans after a short week on Thursday evening on the road for the team's fifth and final preseason contest.
"I thought that we improved tonight," said Assistant Head Coach/Linebackers Joe Vitt. "We improved in our tackling. We had much better poise on the field than we did a week ago."
QB Drew Brees led the Saints passing attack, going 17-of-25 for 179 yards while adding two touchdown passes. QB Chase Daniel completed 11-of-17 attempts for 88 yards with one touchdown.
RB Chris Ivory carried the ball eight times for 57 yards. RB Joe Banyard rushed seven times for 25 yards and RB Travaris Cadet carried five times for 20 yards. The longest rush of the night came from Ivory who broke off a 20-yard gain.
Twelve Saints players had receptions in the contest. RB Pierre Thomas led the team in receptions with four and added 35 yards through the air. TE Jimmy Graham had three catches for 48 yards and caught a touchdown pass. WR Joe Morgan caught four passes for 29 yards and also added a touchdown.
The defense recorded six sacks and forced three fumbles. CB Patrick Robinson tied for the team lead in tackles with five (four solo). DE Cameron Jordan also posted five tackles (three solo) and a sack for a loss of seven yards. S Roman Harper also posted five stops.
The Saints offense outgained the Texans 412-309 while picking up 27 first downs. The New Orleans ground attack registered 151 yards on 4.9 yards per carry.
The Texans won the coin toss and chose to receive to kick off for the fifth preseason contest between the two teams since 2008.
On the opening kickoff, P Thomas Morstead booted the ball out of the end zone which gave QB Matt Schaub the ball to start the opening drive from the Texans 20-yard line.
Schaub was complete on his first three passes including a 16-yard connection with TE Owen Daniels and an 11-yard completion to WR Andre Johnson. RB Ben Tate carried twice for a total of 15 yards and moved the ball to the Saints' 31-yard line. After a defensive pass interference penalty assessed to LB Scott Shanle, Schaub connected on a 26-yard strike to TE Garrett Graham which set up a one-yard touchdown run by Tate. K Jon Weeks connected on the PAT to put the Texans ahead, 7-0, with 11:03 remaining in the quarter.
After Cadet returned the kick to the Saints' 19-yard line, Brees and the starting offense took the field for their first drive of the night.
On the opening play, Brees completed a pass to Pierre Thomas for a gain of nine yards. After an incomplete pass, Ivory carried the ball up the middle on third down but lost the ball. Texans S Glover Quin forced and recovered the fumble at the New Orleans' 40-yard line.
Schaub came out firing again, connecting on all four of his attempts on the drive including a 19-yard pass to WR Lestar Jean on his first throw of the series. After a penalty moved the ball deeper into Saints territory, LB Scott Shanle brought down Tate in the backfield for a loss of six. Schaub then connected on two passes including a 10-yard touchdown completion to WR Keshawn Martin. Weeks connected on the PAT to increase the Texans' lead to 14 with 7:11 remaining in the first quarter.
WR Courtney Roby returned the kickoff 33 yards all the way to the New Orleans 35 to bring the offense back on the field. After a short run by RB Mark Ingram, Brees connected on a 13-yard pass to WR Lance Moore and moved the ball into Houston territory before hitting WR Devery Henderson for a 14-yard gain. Brees was then complete again on a ten-yard pass to WR Marques Colston to bring the ball to the Houston 24-yard line. Ingram carried again to set up a 20-yard touchdown pass from Brees to Moore. K Garrett Hartley put the PAT through the uprights to bring the Houston lead to 14-7 with 4:03 remaining in the first quarter.
Texans' WR Trindon Holliday returned the kickoff 23 yards for the Texans but S Isa Abdul-Quddus forced a fumble that was recovered by DE Junior Galette and returned 16 yards for a Saints touchdown. K John Kasay connected on the PAT to tie the game 14-14 with 3:54 remaining in the quarter.
After a touchback by Morstead, the Houston offense returned to the field. RB Arian Foster rushed on the first two plays of the drive and picked up 22 yards. On first down from his 42-yard line, Schaub connected a deep pass to Johnson for a 19-yard gain before connecting on a pass to RB Justin Forsett for a 13-yard gain. On second down, following a rush by Forsett. Jordan was able to get through and brought down Schaub for a sack and a loss of seven-yards. Schaub then completed a third-down pass to Martin, who was stopped after a two-yard gain by CB Corey White, who forced a fumble that was recovered by DT Sedrick Ellis at the Saints 26-yard line.
After one rushing play, the first quarter came to an end. Following an incomplete pass intended for Graham, Brees went back to him for a 29-yard strike on third down. A Texans penalty moved the ball to the Houston 11-yard line. The Saints then went three plays without being able to pick up a first down that brought on Hartley to kick a 22-yard field goal that put the Saints ahead 17-14 with 11:24 remaining in the second quarter.
Holliday returned the kickoff 64 yards and the Texans began their drive from the Saints' 37-yard line. The Texans went three-and-out and P Donnie Jones came on to punt the ball away. The ball was downed on the Saints' 1-yard line.
Brees' first pass was complete to Graham for an 11-yard gain. On the second play of the drive, Brees connected on a pass to Morgan. Houston S Danieal Manning forced a Morgan fumble and then recovered the ball on the Saints' 10-yard line. Foster rushed twice and got into the end zone on his second try, a six-yard rush. Texans K Randy Bullock connected on the PAT and put the Texans ahead 21-17 with 8:55 remaining in the first half.
On the next New Orleans possession, the Saints went three-and-out which brought on Morstead to punt the ball away. The Texans took over on their 33-yard line.
On first down, Martin got the ball on a reverse. S Malcolm Jenkins forced a fumble that was recovered by DE Will Smith who returned the ball five yards to the Houston 28-yard line.
The Saints were unable to pick up a first down after their first three plays but Brees and the offense returned to the field to attempt a fourth down conversion. The Black and Gold fell short on the conversion and returned the ball to the Texans at the Houston 21-yard line.
On second-and-long after a loss by Foster, Schaub connected on a 44-yard strike to Graham to move the chains and the ball into New Orleans territory. Schaub completed two more passes on the drive but the Texans were unable to pick up a first down. Bullock connected on a 33-yard field goal to put the Texans ahead 24-17 with 2:08 remaining in the first half
On the next Saints possession, Pierre Thomas caught a pass for a gain of 10 yards before Brees connected on an 18-yard throw to Colston. On first down from the Houston 34-yard line, Brees rushed for a gain of ten yards that led to a 16-yard reception by Pierre Thomas on a screen pass. Brees connected on his next two throws including an eight-yard touchdown pass to Graham, where the former college hoopster did his trademark dunk through the goalpost for an exclamation point. Hartley connected on the PAT to tie the game at 24 with 15 seconds remaining in the second quarter.
The Texans took a knee to end the first half with the score tied, 24-24
Cadet returned the opening kickoff of the third quarter to the 23-yard line and Daniel came out to lead the offense in the second half. Daniel completed his first pass to WR Greg Camarillo and connected on an 11-yard pass to TE Michael Higgins on third down to move the chains. Ivory then rushed for a 20-yard gain on the ground to move the ball inside Houston territory. Daniel completed two more passes and Ivory carried five more times to help move the Saints deeper into Houston territory and bring up first-and-goal from the Houston 6-yard line. Daniel couldn't find a way to get the ball into the end zone and Hartley connected on a 24-yard field goal to put the Saints ahead, 27-24 with 9:17 left in the third quarter.
QB T.J. Yates entered the game for the Texans on their first possession of the quarter. On his first pass, the second-year signal caller completed a 15-yard pass to FB James Casey. The Texans rushed the ball three times to move the ball further down field, but Yates was sacked on second-and-eight by CB Cord Parks for a loss of seven yards. On third down, Houston RB Jonathan Grimes rushed for ten yards but the Texans were forced to punt the ball away and the Saints took over from their 20-yard line.
The Saints were able to pick up a first down on the ground before Daniel completed a pass to Morgan for a gain of 20 yards to move the ball to the Houston 48-yard line. The Saints weren't able to move the chains again and Morstead punted the ball away. DE Martez Wilson downed the ball at the Houston 10-yard line.
After a short rush, Yates was sacked by LB Kadarron Anderson for a loss of seven yards which brought up third-and-15 from the Houston five-yard line. The Texans rushed for a short gain and punted the ball back to the Saints. Jones booted the ball 62 yards to the Saints 29-yard line to end the third quarter.
After a penalty on first down, the Saints went three-and-out. Morstead punted the ball away and out of bounds at the Houston 40-yard line.
On first down, Yates completed a pass to Graham for a gain of 20 yards and moved the ball into New Orleans territory before completing his next pass to Forsett for 11 yards. After picking up two yards, Yates was sacked by DT Akiem Hicks for a loss of eight yards on third down to bring on K Shayne Graham to attempt a 53-yard field goal. Graham connected on the long attempt and tied the game, 27-27 with 10:43 remaining.
Parks returned the kickoff 25 yards to the 28-yard line to start the drive for the Saints. After a rush by Cadet, Daniel was sacked by LB Whitney Mercilus for a loss of eight yards. On third-and-long, Daniel took off on the ground and picked up 14-yards and a first down. After a penalty, Cadet caught a short pass and gained 20 yards. The Saints then returned to the ground with Banyard and Cadet rushing for 16 yards a piece. A pass interference penalty on Texans CB Roc Carmichael moved the ball deeper into Houston territory. On third-and-goal, Daniel completed a 4-yard touchdown pass to Morgan. Hartley hit the PAT and put the Saints ahead 34-27 with 3:38 remaining.
Morstead kicked the ball out of the end zone and the Texans took over from their 20-yard line. On second down, Yates was sacked by DE Turk McBride for a loss of nine yards. Yates fumbled the ball but recovered on the Houston 11-yard line. Yates was then sacked again by DT Tyrunn Walker for a loss of two yards to force the Texans to punt. Camarillo was back to return for the Saints and went out of bounds after an eight-yard return to give New Orleans the ball at the Houston 38-yard line.
QB Sean Canfield entered the game for the Saints and completed his first pass of the game to FB Korey Hall for a short gain. The Saints went three-and-out and brought on Hartley who missed a 53-yard field goal attempt.
Yates completed three passes down the field to try to lead a final drive, but was incomplete on a fourth down attempt defended by CB Elbert Mack.
Canfield took a knee and ended the game giving the Saints a 34-27 victory.