If there was anything good for the New Orleans Saints in Sunday’s preseason game against the Los Angeles Chargers, it was that they came out victorious 22-17.
Otherwise, there were a lot of negatives worth pointing out. Starting the day before the game, Saints tight end Jimmy Graham made headlines when he was arrested on suspicion of being under the influence of narcotics and obstructing a police officer. The team later dubbed the incident as a “medical episode,” and to the surprise of no one, Graham was not able to suit up against the Chargers.
Then, 90 minutes before kickoff at SoFi Stadium, a 5.1 magnitude earthquake struck southern California as Tropical Storm Hilary was already descending on the area. Nevertheless, the two teams moved forward with the game and were able to play.
Once the opening whistles were blown, the Saints committed penalty after penalty, resulting in 141 lost yards and multiple stalled drives. Head coach Dennis Allen summarized it best after the game.
“There’s been a lot. I’m ready to try to get back home and get ready to go back to the dome next week,” Allen said. “Look, we won the game and I’m pleased about that, but there’s a ton of crap that needs to get cleaned up.”
— WWL Radio (@WWLAMFM) August 21, 2023
Unlike last week against the Kansas City Chiefs, New Orleans struggled offensively against the Chargers largely due to the 14 penalties.
Both teams punted three times until the start of the second quarter when Saints rookie defensive tackle Bryan Bresee recovered a fumble after defensive end Payton Turner sacked Chargers quarterback Easton Stick near midfield.
After the play, the Saints went to rookie running back Kendre Miller on three straight plays. Miller found the end zone on a seven-yard dive play with 12:54 remaining until halftime. Blake Grupe’s extra point was converted for the Saints’ first lead and only touchdown of the game.
The rest of New Orleans’ scoring came from five field goals between Grupe and starting kicker Wil Lutz over the course of the contest.
The Chargers rallied late in the second quarter, scoring 10 straight points, but could never take the lead. Leading Los Angeles (1-1) on the stat sheet was Stick, who finished 21 of 41 for 233 yards with two rushing touchdowns, two interceptions, and a lost fumble.
New Orleans quarterbacks Jameis Winston and Jake Haener combined for 278 yards on 24 of 38 passing. Seven different receivers hauled in multiple receptions, with Shaquan Davis finishing the game with 63 yards on three catches.
The defense was one of the few positives for the Saints, forcing three turnovers and sacking the quarterback on five different occasions.
The Saints (2-0) will be back in action on Sunday, August 27 against the Houston Texans in New Orleans. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. CT.