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Saints overcome sloppy first half, lean on Taysom Hill to defeat Chargers

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Teddy Bridgewater looked the exact opposite of last week to come out flat in the first half, as Taysom Time picked up the pieces and stole the show.

NFL: Preseason-New Orleans Saints at Los Angeles Chargers Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

The New Orleans Saints and Los Angeles Chargers clashed on prime time CBS television on Sunday afternoon, and Sean Payton’s squad was able to pick up their first victory of the preseason, coming behind from a 17-3 halftime deficit to win 19-17.

Game Recap

The Chargers opted to receive after winning the coin toss, and their first drive with Tyrod Taylor at the helm started off on the right foot approaching midfield, but were denied two straight times on 3rd and short and 4th and short situations. The Saints took over on downs, as Teddy Bridgewater got the start again. Alvin Kamara helped the team move down the field, but back-to-back plays ended the drive with a near pick by Bridgewater and then a bobbled shotgun exchange from Erik McCoy — appeared he wasn’t ready for the snap.

The two traded punts on their ensuing possessions and both teams going three and out, and then the Saints defense came to life. A.J. Klein would get an interception off a tipped David Onyemata deflection at the line of scrimmage to put the New Orleans inside the red zone. However, Bridgewater struggled again and Wil Lutz would put the Saints on the board on a short field goal.

The Chargers weren’t able to put much together on their following drive, and ended up punting back to the Saints. New Orleans was able to get the ball at midfield thanks to a special teams penalty, and Bridgewater and company were able to make good work of the short field. However, disaster struck again for the Saints offense, as a pass intended for Dwayne Washington was a bit high from Bridgewater and was tipped up in the air to a Chargers defender on their own 2-yard line.

Los Angeles was able to cash in this time, marching down the field 98 yards in 10 plays that was capped off by a 24-yard pass to Andre Patton via Cardale Jones with P.J. Williams in coverage to put the game’s first touchdown on the board. A questionable pass interference call on Ken Crawley extended the drive early on a clearly uncatchable ball.

The Saints offense continued to struggle with Bridgewater at the helm, amassing just 75 total yards of offense in the first half by the two-minute warning. The Chargers were able to add a field goal before halftime after a 9-play, 58-yard drive to extend their lead to 10-3 and give Taysom Hill an opportunity to work in the two-minute offense with 1:28 left.

The very first play for Hill saw him get sacked and lose Chris Clark, who was recently signed, to an apparent leg injury. Clark left on a cart and saw his right leg immobilized with an air cast. The Saints weren’t even able to get off the field without giving up a punt return touchdown right before halftime, as Troymaine Pope took the Thomas Morstead punt 81 yards to help extend the Los Angeles lead to 17-3.

As the Saints took the field to start the second half, rookie Deonte Harris once again looked good in the return game, but the offense went three and out again for their first possession after three straight runs. The teams would trade more punts, and then finally the Saints would find the end zone late in the third quarter after a 5-play, 60-yard drive that featured Devine Ozigbo, Taysom Hill running, and would be capped off by a Hill to Austin Carr connection for a 27-yard touchdown to cut the Chargers lead to 17-10.

The Chargers were held in check on the following drive, and the Saints were on the midst of turning another good looking drive into points until Devine Ozigbo slipped and got popped by Denzel Perryman to turn the ball over inside the 5-yard line. Thankfully, the Chargers were unable to capitalize off the turnover and punted it back to the Saints. Taysom Hill, who was impressive in the second half, was able to help the Saints get into the end zone after an 11-play, 69-yard drive that ended with some Ozigbo redemption via a Hill pass. The two-point conversion failed and made it 17-16 with 6:46 left in the game.

Another stop by the Saints defense was able to give Hill an opportunity to close out the game, as they took over with 4:48 on the clock. Once again, Hill was impressive as both a passer and runner and was instrumental in helping New Orleans’ ability to push the clock down to 1:08 before Lutz booted a go-ahead field goal to put them up 19-17. Colton Jumper would pick off Easton Stick to seal the game with 32 seconds to go.

The Saints travel to take on the Jets in Week 3 preseason action.