The Houston Texans faced the New Orleans Saints on Sept. 9 in Week 1 of the 2019 NFL season. Here are the most notable takeaways from the game.
On the first Monday Night Football game of the NFL’s 100th anniversary season, the Houston Texans crossed state lines to play the New Orleans Saints at the sold-out Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The Saints, who ultimately lost the NFC championship game last season because of botched officiating, were motivated to avenge that loss and open their season at home with a win. Houston, who recently traded former top draft pick, Jadeveon Clowney, to Seattle and acquired Kenny Stills and Laremy Tunsil from Miami, needed the win to solidify their decision to trade Clowney. During second-half play, specifically the final minutes of the fourth quarter, both teams seemed to find success in reaching their pregame goals, but in the final seconds of the game, Drew Brees executed passes with surgical precision and Wil Lutz kicked the game-winning field goal as time expired.
Houston started the game with possession of the ball, and neither team was able to produce points during their opening drive. The first 12 minutes of the first quarter were pretty uneventful, but with just over three minutes left in the quarter, Brees threw a pass intended for Latavius Murray, who was at the Houston four-yard line, and it was intercepted by Houston linebacker, Whitney Mercilus.
The first quarter ended scorelessly, but within the first minute of the second quarter, Deshaun Watson rushed 21 yards for the first Texans touchdown of the game, with 14:13 on the clock. The following Saints’ possession consisted of 11 plays, 65 yards, and lasted nearly five minutes, and they were able to come away from the possession with a 32-yard field goal to put them on the board, 7-3. Houston’s second touchdown came after a lengthy seven-and-a-half-minute possession with 16 plays, as Watson connected with wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins for the score which extended Houston’s lead to 14-3. New Orleans’ attempt to place additional points on the board before the end of the quarter was unsuccessful when Lutz missed a 56-yard field goal, therefore allowing the Texans to keep their 11-point lead heading into the second half of the game.
The second half of the game started with a New Orleans touchdown just inside of two minutes when Murray rushed 30 yards for the score and Lutz converted on the extra point, closing the lead to 14-10. In the following possession, the Texans answered with a 16-yard pass between Watson and Hopkins after an interception that did not give Houston possession due to a penalty. After a mostly uneventful first half, the third quarter action brought life to the game, and in the very next Saints’ possession, another touchdown was recorded when Brees completed a pass to Taysom Hill to close the lead to four points: 21-17.
In Houston’s next possession, Deshaun Watson threw an interception to New Orleans’ safety Marcus Williams, and in the same play, Deandre Hopkins was called on an unnecessary roughness penalty. The Saints ended the third quarter with possession of the ball, and with 14:55 left in the game, Brees connected with Tre’Quan Smith for a 14-yard touchdown pass and took the lead for the first time in the game, 24-21. The following three possessions and 11 minutes of play didn’t yield any points and with less than a minute left in the game, but New Orleans eventually hit another field goal, widening the lead to six points. Houston wasn’t throwing in the towel, though, and with two plays, Watson passed to Hopkins for 38 yards, and then connected with Kenny Stills for 37 yards, and a touchdown score, with 37 seconds on the clock. Fairbairn initially missed the extra point, which would have tied the game, but a roughing the kicker penalty was called on New Orleans safety Chauncey Gardner-Johnson and was enforced at the 15-yard line, giving Fairbairn another opportunity for the extra point, which he successfully kicked this time. The scoreboard read 28-27.
With the game on the line and less than a minute to play, New Orleans gained possession one last time, and Drew Brees led his offensive line to three first downs and two second-downs in this short time, calling the final timeout with two seconds left. Wil Lutz was able to avenge the missed field goal earlier in the game by kicking the winning field goal as the clock expired. The Saints won with a final score of 30-28, making them the only team in the NFC South with a win in Week 1.
.@drewbrees: 370 yards + 2 TDs@deshaunwatson: 268 yards + 3 TDs
An unreal QB BATTLE went down on #MNF. @Saints | @HoustonTexans pic.twitter.com/yhPcKzM0wP
— NFL (@NFL) September 10, 2019