The Saints scored a team-record 23 fourth quarter points to rally from a 26-17 fourth-quarter deficit to knockoff the Texans 40-33 in the Superdome Sunday afternoon.
QB Drew Brees finished the game 31-44 for 370 yards, three touchdowns and his first two interceptions of the season.
WR Lance Moore snatched a career high nine catches for 88 yards and a 16-yard touchdown. Moore also scored on two two-point conversions.
For the third straight week, RB Darren Sproles scored a touchdown off a 30-yard run. HE finished with two carries for 35 yards and six catches for 50 yards.
Graham posted his first career 100-yard receiving game off four catches, including a 32-yard touchdown.
"You are encouraged when you win a game like that. Despite not playing your best football, you still find a way to win the game," said Payton. "We would be foolish to go in tomorrow and not look closely at the mistakes we made - players, coaches, everybody."
After a great start by the Saints defense that featured a tackle by rookie linebacker Martez Wilson on the opening kickoff, a false start penalty on the Texans, an incomplete pass and a 1-yard gain, Houston's offense got into gear.
With the Texans facing third-and-14 from their 9-yard line, Schaub found Andre Johnson on a screen pass for a gain of 15. On the next play, Schaub and Johnson connected again for a 32-yard gain to the Saints 44.
After a Schaub-to-Owen Daniels hookup and a pair of runs by Ben Tate, Houston reached the red zone at the Saints 15. On a second-and-9, Schaub found Daniels down the middle of the field for a 14-yard touchdown. Neil Rackers' point after gave the Texans a 7-0 lead with 10:13 left in the first quarter.
With the Saints starting at the 20, their first offensive play was aborted for a three-yard rush. On second down, Brees handed off to RB Pierre Thomas, who gained two yards. On third and 11, Brees found an open Moore to move the chains for a 14-yard gain and the first down. After Brees threw an incomplete pass on the first down down, Thomas gained nine yards on a run up the middle. A false start on TE John Gilmore, pushed the Saints back five yards on third down and a Brees throw was broken up by Texans DB Danieal Manning. P Thomas Morstead boomed a 48-yard punt, putting the Texans with starting position at their 14.
On a third and eight play, Schaub found a wide-open FB James Casey down the Texans sideline for a 62-yard gain before he was stopped by S Roman Harper to bring Houston to the Saints 22. Tate carried into the red zone with a fresh set of downs for a gain of 10. Schaub handed off to Tate again, who gained three yards before he was brought down by DTs Sedrick Ellis and Shaun Rogers.
A second down Schaub pass in the end zone was broken up by Harper. On third down, Schaub completed a pass to Johnson before being brought down by LB Scott Shanle and CB Leigh Torrence, forcing the Texans field goal unit out where K Neil Rackers drilled a 22-yard kick.
Starting at the 20, Brees completed a seven-yard pass to WR Devery Henderson. On second down, RB Mark Ingram was stopped for no gain and subsequently a Brees pass to Sproles was incomplete. Following the punt, the Texans would start at their 27.
On first down, Schaub was brought down by DE Turk McBride for a three-yard loss. On second down, the Texans ran a reverse to Johnson, who gained eight yards before being stopped by CB Jabari Greer. On third down, Schaub completed a tight crossing route to Johnson before he was pushed out of bounds by Harper, but not before gaining five yards for the first down. With the fresh chains and the final play of the first quarter, Schaub handed off to change-of-pace back Steve Slaton who was stopped for only a gain of one yard by DE Cameron Jordan. With a fresh clock in the second quarter, Texans C Chris Myers was called for using illegal hands to the face, setting second-and-19. Schaub handed off to Tate, who gained five yards before being stopped by LB Jo-Lonn Dunbar and DE Will Smith. On third down, Schaub threw a bubble screen to Casey that was snuffed out following an eight-yard gain by Harper forcing the Texans punt unit out for the first time, where the Saints would start at their 14.
On first down, Brees completed a pass to TE David Thomas for a gain of seven yards, before he was tackled by Texans LB Brian Cushing. RB Mark Ingram then sprung free for a 17-yard gain before being brought down by Texans DB Glover Quinn. Brees then tossed a throw to WR Robert Meachem for a 12-yard gain to reach midfield. Ingram carried up the middle and was stopped by a fellow rookie in Houston DE J.J. Watt for a loss of a yard. Under pressure, Brees then flipped a shovel pass to Pierre Thomas who gained 16 yards on the play to move to the Texans 35. With the fresh set of downs, Brees handed off to Pierre Thomas who was stopped by LB DeMeco Ryans gaining one yards. On second down, Brees handed off to Sproles who ran right and gained five yards. On third-and-four, a perfect pitch to Sproles resulted in a 30-yard touchdown to put New Orleans within three.
On the first two plays of their next drive, Schaub completed a 48-yard throw to Johnson and then a 23-yard pass to TE Owen Daniels to put them at first and goal from the Saints nine. The Houston signal-caller then threw a screen to New Orleans native Jacoby Jones who was stopped for no gain by Greer. On second down, a pass intended for Daniels was broken up by Dunbar at the one-yard line. On third down, the crowd noise forced Houston to call a timeout. Eventually a throw to Johnson was incomplete and Rackers kicked a 23-yard field goal to put the Texans up by six.
Sproles took the kickoff out of the end zone and pushed the ball 33 yards to the 28-yard line. However, Brees' first down pass was picked off by Texans CB Johnathan Joseph at the New Orleans 34.
Upon taking the ball back, Tate took a handoff up the middle but was stopped by Harper after only a one-yard gain. Tate took advantage of his blockers on second down though and gained 19 yards before being stopped by Dunbar. Tate ran left side before being stopped by Dunbar and Smith for no gain. On second down, Tate ran on the right side where he was stopped by Ellis after a five-yard gain. New Orleans made a key stop again when a pass by Schaub was dropped by Daniels, forcing Rackers to kick a 27-yard field goal.
New Orleans would start at their 21. Brees first completed a throw to Meachem for a ten-yard gain. Following a second down incomplete throw to Meachem, Brees found an open Henderson on the Saints sideline, who created a 44-yard gain, moving into the Texans 25. With the fresh set of downs, Brees handed off to Ingram who gained two yards up the middle. On the first play after the two-minute warning, Brees was sacked by Watt for a nine-yard loss. On Third down, much of the yardage was gained back as Brees completed a pass to Sproles for a 15-yard gain, setting up fourth-and-two. K John Kasay drilled a 35-yard field goal to put the Saints within six with 35 seconds left.
A touchback by Morstead, was followed by a rush by Tate up the right side where he gained seven yards before being stopped by Ellis as the Texans took to the locker room following that play.
Sproles took the opening kickoff from five yards back in the end zone to the Saints 27-yard line. Following a five-yard offsides penalty on Houston, Brees completed a 14-yard pass to Moore for the first down. The signal-caller then went to Moore again for a two-yard gain. That gain was negated on a pass to Ingram where he was stopped for a three-yard loss. However, a key play on the drive would be coming when Brees completed a throw to TE Jimmy Graham, who created a 32-yard gain to the Texans four. Pierre Thomas then stormed ahead for two yards before Brees then completed a throw in the end zone to Meachem for a touchdown.
On their next possession, the Texans would work the ball to midfield, where on second-and-three, Texans RB Steve Slaton was stopped by Smith for a gain of two. On third and one, Schaub completed a 14-yard throw to Johnson. With a fresh set of downs, a Schaub throw intended for Tate was incomplete. Casey then took a pitch and the Texans converted the first down as he advanced to the 25. Tate then moved into the red zone with a gain of eight yards before being stopped by Shanle. Slaton took the next handoff and was stuffed for a loss of a yard by Dunbar and Shanle. On third-and-three, the pass intended for Johnson was broken up by Torrence forcing Rackers back to the field for the fourth time today where he hit a 36-yard field goal.
The New Orleans offense would take the field again at the 20. Brees kept on the first down play and gained four yards. On second-and-six, a screen to Ingram was stopped by Ryans for no gain. On third down, a tight throw to Moore gained seven and moved the chains. Brees then found Sproles under pressure on a shuttle pass for a three-yard gain. A second down pass intended for Graham was broken up by Texans S Troy Nolan. On third down though, Henderson jumped up to grab a throw by Brees for a gain of 11. However on a next play, a throw up the middle was picked off by Manning and returned to the New Orleans 42-yard line 22 yards.
Schaub then completed a pass to Johnson for a gain of 12. Tate then took a handoff around the left side and gained seven yards before being tackled by DE Junior Galette. On second-and-two though, Tate was stopped by Smith for a loss of four-yards. On third-and-six though, Schaub found Casey for a 26-yard score in the end zone.
Sproles took a knee in the end zone for a touchback. Pierre Thomas took a run up the middle for a seven-yard gain and then subsequently moved the chains with a gain of four before being stopped by Ryans. A first down throw intended for David Thomas was broken up by Ryans. On second down, Brees was dropped on a blindside sack for a loss of seven by Texans DE Antonio Smith. With third-and-17, a Brees pass to Sproles only gained three, forcing the punt unit out. Following a block in the back penalty against the Texans' Brooks Reed on the return, Houston would start at their 14.
A first down pass by Schaub was dropped by Tate. On second down, Tate was stopped by Dunbar after gaining only one yard. On third and nine at the 15, a pass was thrown a little too high for Johnson to grab it. The punt by the Texans' Brett Hartmann went out of bounds at the Texans' 49. Brees immediately got to work, completing a pass to a split out Sproles for a ten-yard gain. His next throw was broken up at the line of scrimmage by Texans DL Tim Jamison. Going back to his newly-established favorite former teammate from San Diego, a throw to Sproles set up a third-and-one at the 30. Ingram then powered forth for the first down and then Brees threw a perfect laser to Graham who advanced into the end zone.
Houston would start at their 34 and a long Schaub pass intended for Jones was broken up by Greer. On second-and-ten, under heavy pressure from the Saints defensive line, he couldn't complete a throw to Tate. On third-and-ten, Schaub was picked off by Greer on a throw intended for Johnson giving the Saints starting position at the Texans 47.
Brees completed his first throw of the drive to Meachem for a gain of 11 to the 36. He then found Moore up the middle for a nine-yard gain at the Texans 27. Going to one of his favorite targets again, Moore held onto a throw before being drilled by CB Kareem Jackson holding onto it for a first down at the 20. The man who caught the two-point play in the Super Bowl then got four more on another intermediate throw. Brees' reliance on Moore on this drive paid off when after an incompletion intended for Thomas, he found Moore in the middle of the field again for a 16-yard touchdown.
The Texans responded well as Schaub led his squad down the field and capped the drive with a 20-yard touchdown to WR Kevin Walter to go up.
Eight plays and 93 yards later, the Saints regained the lead when Ingram rumbled up the middle for a 13-yard touchdown. The Saints went for the two point conversion and on the same play call as the first two-point conversion, Brees found Moore in the right corner of the endzone for the conversion.
With the Superdome's crowd cheering full throttle, The Texans found themselves in 4th and 21 at inside their 10-yard line. Schaub's final pass was broken up by Jenkins and Torrence to seal the Saints victory.