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Saints defense impressive in victory over the Chargers

The Saints break their preseason woes, winning their first contest in nearly three years.

NFL: New Orleans Saints at Los Angeles Chargers Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The New Orleans Saints took the national stage for their Week 2 preseason matchup against the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday night, ending their 10-game losing skid in the preseason.

It took the Saints one play to find the end zone after forcing a 3-and-out on the Chargers opening possession, as rookie Alvin Kamara took it in for a 50-yard touchdown. The play developed after a tremendous block by Ryan Ramczyk on Melvin Ingram (and Andrus Peat), Kamara did the rest to put the Saints on the board.

After another stop by the Saints defense, the Chase Daniel-led offensive attack moved the ball on an 8-play, 44-yard drive that ended with a 53-yard Wil Lutz field goal to put the Saints up 10-0. The defense stepped up for some big moments to limit the Chargers offense, notching four sacks by just over the halfway point of the 2nd Quarter from Alex Okafor (shown below), A.J. Klein and Sheldon Rankins (half sack), Kenny Vaccaro (coverage sack) and Manti Te’o.

Even with the second-team defense in the mix, the Saints had some pretty stellar play from players like Manti Te’o, who finished the first half leading the team with 8 total tackles. He also had three tackles for loss, a sack, and QB hit. As a whole, Dennis Allen’s defense had 10 tackles for loss through the first two quarters, including 6 quarterback hits. Chris Banjo shined on special teams, making some really good plays in coverage.

Ryan Nassib took over second-string duty at quarterback over Garrett Grayson to open the second half, but didn’t manage to get anything done on his first series. The Saints answered on defense, ending the Chargers drive with an Obum Gwacham sack on Cardale Jones. Nassib’s second crack with the offense saw him get hit and sacked, forcing the Saints to punt.

The Saints defense got their sixth sack of the night from Craig Robertson to force a 3rd and 23, but Damian Swann would commit a defensive pass interference to give the Chargers offense new life in Saints territory. However, Sterling Moore would force a fumble after a Jamaal Jones catch that would be recovered by Manti Te’o.

Up until the 10-minute mark of the 4th Quarter, the action was pretty lethargic. Nassib had a good looking drive going, but forced a pass to Tommylee Lewis that ended up being a 99-yard pick-6 to Dexter McCoil to cut the Saints lead to 10-7.

The Saints would pick up the pieces on the ensuing possession powered behind Trey Edmunds and Darius Victor, going 67 yards in 14 plays that was finished off by a 26-yard Wil Lutz field goal to extend the lead to 13-7. The defense closed things out strong thanks to back-to-back sacks by Al-Quadin Muhammad, and sealed their win with an Adam Bighill interception.