NEW ORLEANS (WAFB) - The Saints rolled in the second half against the Texans and a last-second field goal gave them their first season-opening win in six years.
Kicker Wil Lutz nailed a 58-yarder and New Orleans came away with the 30-28 victory over Houston.
Drew Brees was 32-of-43 for 370 yards and two touchdowns. He also threw one interception. Michael Thomas had 10 catches for 123 yards. Alvin Kamara had 13 carries for 97 yards.
The Saints defense had an interception, six sacks, and seven tackles for loss.
Deshaun Watson was 20-of-30 for 268 yards and three touchdowns. He also threw a pick. Watson ran four times for 41 yards and another touchdown. DeAndre Hopkins caught eight passes for 111 yards and two touchdowns.
On the Saints’ second drive of the game, Brees got the offense into the red zone, but threw an interception to linebacker Whitney Mercilus at the 4-yard line. It proved costly, as the Texans drove the length of the field and on fourth down with inches to go, Watson called his own number and ran 21 yards for a touchdown to give Houston the 7-0 lead early in the second quarter.
The Saints were able to get down to the red zone on their next drive, but again, the Texans’ defense tightened up and forced New Orleans to settle for a Lutz 32-yard field goal to make it 7-3.
The Texans responded with a 16-play, 75-yard drive that was capped off with Watson finding Hopkins in the back of the end zone for a 2-yard touchdown to extend Houston’s lead to 14-3. Just before the half, the Saints tried to close the gap, but Lutz missed a 56-yard field goal.
On their first drive of the second half, the Saints finally found pay dirt. Running back Latavius Murray took a handoff 30 yards to the house to make it 14-10. The 5-play, 83-yard drive took only a little more than 2:00. It was aided by a short pass to Alvin Kamara that turned into a 41-yard gain.
Marshon Lattimore picked off a Watson pass at the 3-yard line and returned it 40 yards, but it was negated by an offsides penalty by the Saints. On the very next play, Watson found Hopkins in the end zone again for a 16-yard touchdown to make it 21-10.
The Saints responded with a drive that saw Brees hook up with Taysom Hill for a 9-yard touchdown. New Orleans found itself only trailing 21-17 at that point. Then, safety Marcus Williams intercepted a deep throw by Watson and Hopkins was called for unnecessary roughness on the tackle. A 14-yard touchdown pass from Brees to Tre’Quan Smith gave the Saints a 24-21 lead just seconds into the fourth quarter.
Lutz added a 47-yard field goal with less than 1:00 left in the game.
With :43 left, Watson found former Saints wide receiver Kenny Stills for a 37-yard touchdown to put the Texans up 28-27.
However, Lutz was true from 58 yards as time expired to seal the win. It was the longest field goal of his career.
In the first half, there was a mishandling of the clock by the officials. Thomas made a catch with :48 left in the half and the play was reviewed. The review booth stopped play at :26 to see if Thomas made the first down. After the review, officials cited NFL rules required a :10 runoff.
“The play ended at :41 when we ruled him down,” said Al Riveron, NFL senior vice president of officiating. “Then, we stopped the game for a replay review. After we did our administrative duties, we should have reset the clock to :41 because that’s when we blew the play dead. At that time, we should have gone to Coach Payton and asked him if he wanted to take a timeout in lieu of a :10 runoff. Instead of setting the clock to :41, we inadvertently set it to :26 and then had a :10 runoff because he did not want to take the timeout. Again, we should have reset it to :41, not :26, and then ultimately to :31 after the :10 runoff.”
Moments later is when Lutz was wide left on a 56-yard field goal attempt.
The Saints next travel to Los Angeles for an NFC Championship rematch against the Rams.