NFL News & Analysis

NFL Preseason Week 1 Game Recap: Houston Texans 17, New Orleans Saints 13

Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Texans quarterback Davis Mills (10) attempts a pass during the first quarter against the New Orleans Saints at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The Houston Texans took down the New Orleans Saints in an unusually thrilling preseason game, winning 17-13 on the back of a game-winning touchdown that came with 25 seconds left. 

Editor’s note: All grades in this article are subject to review. All PFF player grades will be finalized by 12 pm ET tomorrow.


Houston Texans

Quarterback

Player Comp/Att Yds YPA TD/INT Rtg
Davis Mills 3/3 14 4.7 0/0 86.1
Jeff Driskel 16/26 165 6.3 2/3 65.9
  • Second-year quarterback Davis Mills played two series in total. He had an efficient yet unspectacular night, completing all three of his passes for 14 yards. 
  • Jeff Driskel handled the rest of the night since Kyle Allen tested positive for COVID-19. He threw three interceptions but made up for it on the game-winning touchdown pass with just 25 seconds left. 

Running Back

Texans rushing leaders
Player Yards
Dameon Pierce 49
Dameon Pierce's after contact 42
Royce Freeman 25
Jeff Driskel 17
Marlon Mack 6
Troy Hairston 2
  • PFF’s lead draft analyst Mike Renner said Dameon Pierce was “built like an armored vehicle” in PFF’s 2022 NFL Draft Guide. The Texans’ fourth-rounder drove through the Saints with 49 yards on just five carries, averaging 9.8 yards per attempt. A staggering 86% of his yards came after contact, cementing his status as the star of the night. 
  • Outside of Pierce, the Texans didn’t have too much success on the ground, with 50 yards on 19 attempts. 

Receivers

  • Second-year receiver Jalen Camp led the Texans in receiving, hauling in two of his four targets for 53 yards and a touchdown. 
  • Houston’s only other touchdown was the game-winner that was scored by undrafted rookie Johnny Johnson III.

Offensive Line

Pass-blocking snaps Sacks Hits Hurries Pressure rate
29 1 1 5 28.6%
  • Texans fans will have to wait at least another week to see No. 15 overall pick Kenyon Green, as he sat out the contest with a knee injury. 
  • The offensive line had a strong showing in his absence, allowing just one hit and one sack on the night.

Defensive Line

  • Houston’s defensive line lived in the backfield with five sacks, seven tackles for loss and a 35% pressure rate on the night.
  • Ogbonnia Okoronkwo was particularly impressive, finishing with a sack, three hurries and four pressures across 14 pass-rushing snaps.

Linebackers

  • Fourth-year linebacker Blake Cashman shined Saturday night with a forced incompletion, three tackles for loss/no-gain and an 84.7 grade on first review. 

Secondary

  • Both of Houston’s first-rounders were absent Saturday night, as No. 3 overall pick Derek Stingley Jr. sat out while he recovers from his foot injury from a year ago.
  • Tremon Smith had a strong showing, allowing one catch for three yards while breaking up a pass in the end zone and coming down with an interception.

New Orleans Saints

Quarterback

Player Comp/Att Yds YPA TD/INT Rtg
Andy Dalton 5/5 51 10.2 1/0 148.8
Ian Book 15/22 121 10.1 0/1 62.9
  • Andy Dalton received the start for New Orleans since Jameis Winston was on the shelf with a foot sprain. Like Davis Mills, every one of Dalton’s passes was completed. He finished 5-for-5 for 51 yards, a touchdown and a 148.8 passer rating.
  • Second-year quarterback Ian Book played all but one series and struggled. He threw an interception, fumbled and was sacked five times.

Running Backs

  • Undrafted rookie Abram Smith led the Saints on the ground with seven carries for 30 yards. On the flip side, he also fumbled.
  • Seventh-year running back Dwayne Washington brought in all three of his targets for 18 yards and the only touchdown of the night for the Saints. On the ground, he had nine carries for 19 yards and 21 yards after contact, showing he made the most of his touches.

Receivers

  • First-round pick Chris Olave finished with one catch from his only target for four yards.
  • Undrafted rookies led New Orleans in both rushing yards and receiving yards. Dai’Jean Dixon brought in three of his four targets for 33 yards and two first downs. 

Offensive Line

Pass-blocking snaps Sacks Hits Hurries Pressure rate
31 5 0 7 29.0%
  • While at Northern Iowa, Trevor Penning excelled as a run blocker but had his fair share of struggles as a pass protector. Not much changed in his preseason debut, as the No. 19 overall pick allowed a sack and three pressures across 14 pass-blocking snaps. However, he currently has a 90.0 run-blocking grade on first review, showing the dominant people-moving ability he possesses. 

Defensive Line

  • The Saints defensive line recorded one sack, six hurries and eight pressures across 28 pass-rushing snaps. 
  • The lone sack of the night belonged to Kaden Elliss on one of his three pass-rushing snaps for the night.

Linebackers

  • Eric Wilson looked especially stingy in coverage with a forced incompletion and no catches allowed on three targets.
  • Wilson wasn’t the only Saints linebacker who made plays in coverage. Fourth-year linebacker Chase Hansen ended up with an interception off of Driskel.

Secondary

  • The Saints secondary ended up with two interceptions on the night. Justin Evans picked off Driskel in the third quarter before Brian Allen had his late in the fourth.
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