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Strong defensive effort helps Saints pitch shutout against Texans

The Saints met the Texans on Saturday night for their third preseason game, which had many of the starters see action.

NFL: Houston Texans at New Orleans Saints Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

The New Orleans Saints took the field on Saturday evening against the Houston Texans for their third preseason matchup, and the team pitched a 13-0 shutout.

The Saints offense saw Drew Brees and Mark Ingram both handle starting duties on their opening series, and with Ryan Ramczyk not playing, Bryce Harris filled in at left tackle. The first drive was highlighted by a big Ted Ginn Jr. end around that went for 48 yards, but a Mark Ingram illegal block in the back penalty would only give him 24 yards. Unfortunately, the Saints couldn’t capitalize on the big play and get the ground game going, and had to rely on Thomas Morstead to punt often (five times).

On their second drive, the Saints would go 69 yards in 13 plays to get their first points of the game from a 26-yard Wil Lutz field goal. Michael Thomas was active, catching all four of his targets early on for 27 yards.

After five series, Brees took a seat in favor of Chase Daniel. On his first possession, he took a sack and had a couple of errant throws, including one to Michael Thomas’ eet. The defense was the highlight of the first half, as Dennis Allen’s unit was able to get a good bit of pressure, some near picks, and some 9 pass breakups. The Saints defense only allowed one third down conversion in the first half, and Sean Payton’s squad took their 3-0 lead into the half.

The second half opened with more punt exchanges, but again the Saints defense had some special moments. There was a brief scare when Manti Te’o didn’t get up after a hit, favoring his arm, but after being looked at was on the sideline without his helmet. The Saints notched their first sack of the evening after multiple pressures with Darryl Tapp.

The Saints got their first touchdown of the night thanks to a stellar 10-play, 84-yard drive piloted by Chase Daniel. He connected for big pass plays to Tommylee Lewis, Josh Hill, and Brandon Coleman on the drive that was finished off by a 3-yard Darius Victor rushing touchdown to put the team ahead 10-0.

Garrett Grayson would get in late in the 3rd Quarter after failing to appear against the Chargers. He’d get some big help thanks to a Damian Swann interception off a tipped pass to a Deshaun Watson receiver. The Saints turned in four sacks on the night (Darryl Tapp, Rafael Bush, Al-Quadin Muhammad, Adam Bighill), getting them to 16 in three games.

The Saints extended their lead to 13-0 after Wil Lutz cashed in on a 48-yard field goal. Grayson could have been in a perfect position to get a touchdown on the drive, but two bad penalties by Jerry Ugowke negated that. A late Darius Victor fumble put the Texans in a position for their first score of the game, but the defense did not give.

The team moves to 2-1 in preseason action, and will stay home and gear up for their preseason finale against the Baltimore Ravens on Thursday, Aug. 31.