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Offense sputters in crunch time as Saints lose 20-13 to Texans

Taysom Hill looks to shake off a defender during the Saints' 20-13 loss to Houston on Sunday (Photo from the New Orleans Saints/X)

The New Orleans Saints’ 20-13 loss to the Houston Texans was not without frustration as offensive decision-making in crunch time was at a season-worst. Here’s your recap of what all happened at NRG Stadium on Sunday.

The high points for New Orleans
  • The Saints outperformed the Texans in total yards (430-297) and first downs (24-19), in large part due to big stat lines from quarterback Derek Carr and running back Alvin Kamara. Carr went 32 of 50 passing for 353 yards with one touchdown. Kamara had 26 touches for 104 yards.
  • Three players (Kamara, Taysom Hill, and Chris Olave) had seven receptions each, combing for 181 yards in the air. Speedy wideout Rashid Shaheed had two catches for 84 yards, including the lone touchdown.
  • The defense forced rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud to throw the first interceptions of his career with two. They also were able to put some pressure on the young standout, forcing two sacks and multiple quarterback hurries.
  • Although the defense gave up two first-half touchdowns, they held the Texans to just three points in the second half.
The low points for New Orleans
  • The Saints had seven penalties for 86 yards with multiple penalties coming in the red zone and virtually killing drives. New Orleans was unable to score on any of their three trips inside the Texans’ 20-yard line.
  • Although he did make two field goals, rookie kicker Blake Grupe also missed two – one of which was from 29 yards out. If Grupe knocked all four field goals in, the Saints would have not needed a touchdown on the final drive.
  • The first forced interception of Stroud’s career was immediately given back when Zach Braun got greedy and fumbled the ball during the return. The Texans turned around and scored a touchdown six plays later.
  • With the offense’s lack of identity, the usually stout defensive unit was on the field way too much in the first half and gave up all Houston needed to win.
What the coach is saying

Just one week after a 34-0 shutout over the New England Patriots, head coach Dennis Allen was not happy with his team’s return to the loss column.

“Too many missed opportunities in this game. The red zone continues to get up and bite us. Defensively, we did not play well in the first half,” Allen said. “Way too many mistakes and missed opportunities. We have to do a better job of executing our jobs. It doesn’t matter who you are.”

Some personnel changes on the offensive line also had to be made midgame as backup tackle James Hurst – who recently earned the start over former first-round pick Trevor Penning – got hurt. Along with an injury to All-Pro right tackle Ryan Ramcyzk, Allen was forced to put the struggling Penning back in and Houston was able to maintain consistent pressure on the left side.

“There were things at the line of scrimmage that we missed,” Allen said. “We got a lot of pressure in the last series of the game. The passing game has to be better. We have to be able to change a play based on what we see, and everybody needs to know what we’re doing.”

Next up

With the loss against the Texans (3-3) now in the books, the Saints (3-3) will have a short week before returning to the field against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Thursday, Oct. 19. The Jaguars (4-2) are coming off a 37-20 win over the Indianapolis Colts as the team continues to rely on Mississippi native Gardner Minshew at quarterback following an injury to rookie signal caller Anthony Richardson. Thursday’s kickoff is set for 7:15 p.m. CT and will be broadcast on Amazon Prime.

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