NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Texans starting quarterback Tom Savage struggled to move Houston’s offense. His popular backup, first-round draft choice Deshaun Watson, didn’t do much to distinguish himself, either.
Perhaps a New Orleans Saints defense that has languished near the bottom of the NFL for three seasons is improving after all.
An interception by Damian Swann, and sacks by Darryl Tapp, Al-Quadin Muhammad, Rafael Bush and Adam Bighill highlighted a defensive performance that lifted New Orleans to a 13-0 preseason victory on Saturday night.
Two of the Saints’ sacks and Swann’s interception came against Watson.
Darius Victor ran for a 3-yard touchdown and Wil Lutz kicked field goals of 26 and 48 yards for New Orleans (2-1), which had won two straight exhibition games after ending a 10-game preseason skid in Los Angeles last week.
Adrian Peterson made his Saints preseason debut, albeit in unspectacular fashion. Each of his six carries went for either 2 or 3 yards, totaling 15. He also had one catch for a 1-yard loss.
Peterson’s carries were his first in the preseason since 2011. He had only appeared in one preseason game since then, back in 2013.
Drew Brees played for much of the first half in his first action this preseason. He completed 11 of 15 passes for 76 yards, but New Orleans was unable to move the ball consistently. It managed only one scoring drive with Brees under center, capped by Lutz’s 26-yard field goal that made it 3-0.
Backup QB Chase Daniel took over for New Orleans’ final possession of the first half and led its only touchdown drive in the third quarter, completing passes of 24 yards to Tommylee Lewis, 14 yards to Josh Hill and 31 yards to Brandon Coleman.
Savage was 10 of 16 for 79 yards in the first half for Houston (1-2). Watson was 11 of 21 for 116 yards and also scrambled twice for 10 yards. Watson’s potential to extend plays showed when he stepped up to avoid Swann’s blitz, then delivered an accurate off-balance pass to RaShaun Allen as he was being hit by lineman Tony McDaniel. The play gained 22 yards, but the drive stalled a couple plays later with Swann’s interception.
Rookie Marshon Lattimore played throughout the first half and into the second. He was in on two tackles and broke up two passes for New Orleans.
The Texans were heading back to Dallas after the game because of the storm that hit the Houston area.
Daniel is competing with two other QBs — 2015 third-round draft choice Garrett Grayson and free-agent acquisition Ryan Nassib — to be Brees’ backup. Daniel completed 9 of 12 passes for 108 yards and took two sacks. Grayson was 2 of 6 for 25 yards, but also had a long pass dropped by Lewis.
Two young Texans defensive players who grew up within a two-hour drive of New Orleans made standout plays. Cornerback Treston Decoud, who played high school football in the New Orleans suburb of Mandeville, broke up a long pass intended for Lewis, and also drew an offensive pass interference penalty on Corey Fuller on a pass down the sideline. Outside linebacker Eric Lee, who played high school football in Daphne, Alabama, had two sacks. Lee is a second-year pro who spent last season on Houston’s practice squad.
Texans: Tight end Evan Baylis limped off the field favoring his left leg after an 8-yard first-down reception from Watson late in the first half.
Saints: Reserve LB and special teams regular Nate Stupar limped off the field favoring his right leg late in the third quarter. ... Rookie offensive tackle Ryan Ramczyk, the 32nd overall pick in last spring’s NFL draft, did not suit up after leaving practice two days earlier. He was in the stadium in warmups and did not appear to have any physical ailments.
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