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2 ups and 2 downs from yesterday’s win over the Texans

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Two “Ups” and two “Downs” from the game.

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

My heart can’t take many more games like this.

It was a roller coaster of a game, especially in the first half, with plenty of “Ups” and “Downs” along the way. Here are a few that stood out:

NFL: Houston Texans at New Orleans Saints Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Up: Wil Lutz

Whew.

After missing a 56-yard field goal to end the first half, Lutz had a shot for more than just redemption by drilling a career-best 58-yarder to end regulation and give the New Orleans Saints the win.

Lutz is every bit deserving of the 5-year contract extension he received this past offseason, making him the highest-paid kicker in the NFL. I honestly cannot recall a time I felt this confident in the Saints kicker regarding both accuracy and length.

NFL: New Orleans Saints at Carolina Panthers Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Down: Officiating

In the first NFL regular season game in the Super Dome since the missed pass interference call in last year’s NFC Championship Game, you would think the officials in the game would be forced to be perfect under the Monday Night lights.

That wasn’t the case.

The officials in last night’s game botched a clock run-off to end the first half which essentially cost the Saints a field goal and 3-points. Considering it looked like the Saints could possibly lose the game by one point near the end of the game, the three points left on the board because of the referees loomed large.

Thankfully for the referees and the NFL, the Saints went on to win the game in regulation, but could you imagine the blow-back if the Saints lost in part because of poor officiating?

NFL: Houston Texans at New Orleans Saints Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Up: Offensive line

Aside from Wil Lutz, Ryan Ramczyk was the player of the game last night. He was guilty of one holding penalty on former Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt, but largely kept Watt in check the entire game.

The Saints entire front was solid against the Texans. The aforementioned Ramczyk played like a hoss all game. Andrus Peat had a solid game and he was able to shake the penalty bugaboo that plagued him late into last season. Rookie Erik McCoy handled the offensive just fine, and the unit as a whole avoided unnecessary false starts. Overall, the big men of front had themselves a game.

NFL: Houston Texans at New Orleans Saints Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Down: Situational defense

The Saints situational defense last night was absolutely abysmal. They couldn’t get off the field seemingly all night, allowing the Texans to convert 7 of 13 third downs - including multiple 3rd and longs - and their sole attempt at 4th down which resulted in a Houston touchdown.

On top of that, the Saints two minute defense was embarrassingly porous. With Houston getting the ball on their own 25-yard line with under a minute in regulation and zero timeouts, the Saints allowed the Texans to go 75 yards in two plays for the go-ahead touchdown.

The Saints defense was the beneficiary of a raucous crowd in the Super Dome last night, but the Saints will be on the road for the next two weeks and will not have that luxury. There are a lot of things to clean up on defense. Let’s hope improvements are made sooner rather than later.