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Week 1 Game Recap: Houston Texans 28, New Orleans Saints 30
What you need to know
WR DeAndre Carter
- Started at the slot but did not get a target
TE Jordan Akins
- One reception for 17 yards but is not the starter.
TE Darren Fells
- The starting tight end but only one target
WR Keke Coutee
- Coming back from his ankle injury. Ran routes before the game but was held out to make sure he is fully healed for the season.
By far the best game of the weekend, the Saints got a last second win against the Texans. It was a slow start for the Saints as they only scored 3 points in the first half. Drew Brees
threw a rare red zone interception and they missed a kick just before half time. The Texans moved the ball up and down the field against the Saints defense, but they came up big and made plays when they needed. Alvin Kamara
was held in check for the majority of the game, but broke out in the second half and had nearly 170 total yards this week. The best part of the game was the 4th quarter where each team traded the lead in the final minute of the game. The Saints kicked a field goal to go up by 6 points with 55 seconds remaining, then two big plays by the Texans resulted in a touchdown and a tie score. The Texans missed the extra point on the first attempt but a late roughing the kicker flag allowed them to re-kick and make the try. Drew Brees
had 37 seconds to work with and completed large chunk passes to Ginn and Thomas to setup a game wining 58-yard field goal try. Will Lutz
drilled the ball right down the middle and the Saints walked off with a win. New Orleans will travel to Los Angeles to try and avenge their playoff loss to the Rams next weekend in what should be a very high scoring affair.
|QB Deshaun Watson, 67 offensive snaps, Pass: 20 - 30 - 268 - 3 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 4 - 40 - 1|
It was a slow start for Deshaun Watson
but he got rolling as the game go going. He opened the scoring with a 21-yard touchdown run that saw him flip into the end zone. He was slow to get up an appeared to bruise his back. That did not slow him from opening up the passing game through the air hitting Deandre Hopkins twice in the end zone and a strike to Kenny Stills
on a 37-yard post in the middle of the field. Watson did not get much help at times, there were four dropped passes that he threw that would have helped his numbers but he made some big throws when the Texans needed them. Watson’s big mistake came forcing a pass into double coverage to Will Fuller
on a ball that should have never been thrown.
|RB Duke Johnson, 42 offensive snaps, Rush: 9 - 57 - 0, Rec: 4 - 33 - 0 (5 targets)|
It was also a productive day for Duke Johnson
who put up 13 total touches for the offense and 90 total yards. His longest play was a 32-yard rush that saw him break a tackle in open field to go get more yards. His pass catching ability remains his best assist and he was second on the offense in targets only behind Deandre Hopkins.
|RB Carlos Hyde, 25 offensive snaps, Rush: 10 - 83 - 0, Rec: 1 - 2 - 0 (1 targets)|
A surprised in the running game, Carlos Hyde
was able to infuse lift into the backfield. Hyde was breaking the first tackle consistently and eating up yards. His longest run was 20-yards and he averaged 8.3 yards a carry. He was productive moving the football and appears to be in line to be the Texans primary ball carrier in the running game.
It should have been a bigger day than what it was for Deandre Hopkins. Hopkins dropped three passes in the first half but woke up in the second half looking like the Hopkins many know. Catching touchdown passes for 2 yards and 16 yards, Hopkins continues to do his work when asked. His best reception came on a pass late in the 4th quarter down the left side line for 38-yards to set up a touchdown pass the next play.
|WR Kenny Stills, 28 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 37 - 1 (3 targets)|
There were three receptions for Kenny Stills
in limited work, two jet sweeps and one post route to the middle of the field for a 37-yard touchdown strike. Stills will continue to be worked into the offense and his big play ability is evident.
|WR Will Fuller, 65 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 69 - 0 (3 targets)|
The Texans offense was looking for anything after slow start then Watson went to a big throw to Fuller for 54 yards over Eli Apple. It was on an under thrown ball but it was adjusted well to by Fuller to make the reception. Fuller also had another target intercepted when Watson forced it into double coverage.
New Orleans Saints
|QB Drew Brees, 66 offensive snaps, Pass: 32 - 43 - 370 - 2 TD / 1 INT|
The legend of Drew Brees
continues to grow with every late 4th quarter comeback. The first half was rough for Brees as he threw an uncharacteristic red zone interception and only managed to put 3 points on the board before half. The interception came when the pocket collapsed and Brees scrambled to his right before trying to find Murray in the flat. The play was read perfectly by the defense that knew he was not a threat to run the ball and the linebacker was able to drop back in coverage for the interception. Brees made up for it later with his 2 touchdowns and the game winning drive was only 35 seconds left. The first touchdown came to Taysom Hill
and was an easy read up the middle. Brees dropped back and found his quarterback/tight end across the middle for the score. The second touchdown came on the first play of the 4th quarter to TreíQuan Smith and was because Brees fled the collapsing pocket and created more time for himself, Brees was able to find Smith open after the receiver saw his quarterback in trouble and worked back towards him in the end zone. Brees let loose a low pass that only Smith could catch by going into a slide. In the 4thquarter, Brees hit Ginn for 41 yards on a 3rd and 2 play, and moved the ball 35 yards in 30 seconds to setup the game winning field goal. Look for Brees to have another big year in the high powered Saints offense.
|QB Taysom Hill, 15 offensive snaps, Rush: 2 - 8 - 0, Rec: 1 - 9 - 1 (2 targets)|
The man continues to do it all. Hill lined up as a tight end, quarterback, and played special teams again this week. He did not throw a pass under center and it was clear they were going to run the ball each time with the zone read. The biggest drive came in the 3rd quarter where Hill was given a chance under center and then caught a touchdown pass on the next play. Hill faked to Kamara on the zone read and took the ball 6 yards down the sideline as he lowered his shoulder and ran over the Texans corner. On the very next play, he shifted back to receiver and Brees found him in the middle of the end zone for an easy touchdown. Bridgewater still looks to be the actual backup quarterback for the team, but Hill shoes his value in being able to play all over the place. The red zone snaps for Hill cuts into the value of Cook or any other tight end the Saints have on the field.
|RB Alvin Kamara, 50 offensive snaps, Rush: 13 - 97 - 0, Rec: 7 - 72 - 0 (8 targets)|
It looked like it was going to be a quiet first game for the star running back until he turned it on in the second half. Kamara did most of his damage through the air this week as the Saints routinely exploited the mismatch any time Kamara had a linebacker in coverage. The speedy back ripped off a 41-yard reception where he caught the ball across the middle and turned it up the seam for a big play. He also had a 28-yard rush where he bounced off several would be tacklers and sprinted towards the end zone. Kamara fumbled the ball on this same play and it was recovered by Jared Cook
without being advanced. Had the Saints challenged the play they would have seen it was not a fumble, but no flag was thrown. Kamara was held out of the end zone this week but still managed almost 170 all-purpose yards. He carried the ball more than twice the amount Murray did and was the primary back in passing situations. Kamara will be the work horse this year and Murray does not pose much of a threat outside of being a change of pace back.
|RB Latavius Murray, 18 offensive snaps, Rush: 6 - 43 - 1, Rec: 2 - 4 - 0 (3 targets)|
With the departure of Mark Ingram
, the Saints signed Murray in the offseason to compliment Kamara in the back field. He is the bigger back and is used in power situations and when the Saints need to run off some clock. In his first regular season game, Murray did not disappoint and managed to do everything that was asked of him. He averaged 7.2 yards per carry (inflated by a 30-yard run), caught 2 of his 3 targets, and looked good in pass protection. Murray is not the same back that Ingram is and will not see the same workload over the course of the year, but he seems to have a clear role and the Saints are not afraid to use him. Murray's 30-yard run went for a touchdown and was straight up the middle. Murray burst through the second level and made a sharp cut to the outside before turning on the burners and outrunning the entire defense. He showed that he is not just a power back and that he has break-away speed when he needs it.
Another week and another 10 catch, 100-yard performance for Thomas. He continues to be Brees favorite target and can lineup anywhere on the field and run any route. Thomas caught 10 of his 13 targets and made big chunk plays all over the field. He continues to be the most dangerous on short crossing routes and quick out routes 10 yards down the field. His longest play of the game was a 24-yard catch and run down the sideline to help setup a red zone chance for the Saints. Thomas also played a big role in the final drive where he grabbed an 11-yard reception to push the Saints over mid field and setup the next play to get into field goal range. Thomas did not find the end zone this week and was double covered in the red zone and goal to go situations. Thomas is a lock to find the end zone several times this year with the sheer volume of passes coming his way. If Ginn can stay healthy, teams will not be able to double Thomas or provide help over the top as much and it should open things up even more. Look for Thomas to have another big week next weekend against the Rams.
|WR Ted Ginn, 49 offensive snaps, Rec: 7 - 101 - 0 (7 targets)|
The veteran receiver Ginn showed up when the team needed him and made big plays in the 4th quarter to setup a field goal to go up by 6 and then the eventual game winning field goal. Ginn's big play came on a 3rd and 2 play where the Saints sent everyone deep down field. Ginn beat his man in the first 10 yards and then caught a beautifully thrown ball by Brees over his shoulder for 41 yards. Ginn also had 2 catches on the final drive to get the Saints into field goal range for the game winning kick. The most impressive being the 7-yard comeback route where he catch the ball and instantly went to the ground to call the time out for the field goal. Ginn registered his first 100-yard game of the season and still looks to be the burner he was in years past. If Ginn can stay healthy, he should play a big role as the clear second receiver for the Saints.
|WR TreQuan Smith, 42 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 26 - 1 (2 targets)|
It was a rather quiet day for Smith until the first play of the 4th quarter when he hauled in a 14-yard pass from Brees for a touchdown. Smith ran a crossing route into the middle of the end zone and then appeared to stop when it looked like the play was breaking down. As the pocket collapsed, Brees rolled to his right and Smith darted into an open void in the end zone. Brees let loss a low pass that only Smith could get to with a sliding catch for the score. There is a lot of competition for targets in this offense with Ginn, Thomas, and Kamara seeing the bulk share, but Smith should be good for a few big plays the rest of the year.
|TE Jared Cook, 42 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 37 - 0 (3 targets)|
It was a quiet debut for Cook with the big tight end only garnering 3 targets, and losing red zone snaps to Taysom Hill
. Cook ripped off a 31-yard catch up the seam that accounted for the majority of his 37 yards, but was quiet outside of that. There was a moment late in the second half where he scooped up what looked like a Kamara fumble and had a clear path to the end zone, but was tackled and the call went unchallenged as he did not advance the ball. Cook was brought in to be the big play tight end that the Saints have been missing since Jimmy Graham
, but his quiet debut may point to a bigger issue.