NEW ORLEANS – The New Orleans Saints won the game. Then they lost it. And then they finally won it when kicker Wil Lutz drilled a career-best 58-yard field goal as time expired to give New Orleans a 30-28 victory on “Monday Night Football” at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
It looked like the Texans had stunned the Saints 28-27 in the season opener when DeShaun Watson threw a 37-yard touchdown pass to former Saints receiver Kenny Stills with 37 seconds to play. Then it briefly looked like the game might go to overtime when Ka’imi Fairbairn missed the extra-point attempt but the Saints were called for roughing the kicker. He made the second attempt.
With 37 seconds to play Drew Brees took over at the 25-yard line. He hit Ted Ginn Jr. for 15 yards. Spiked the ball. Hit Michael Thomas for 11 yards. Spiked the ball. Brees to Ginn for nine more yards. Timeout. Lutz hits the game-winner. Bedlam ensues inside the Superdome.
The crazy victory was the Saints’ first in an opener since since 2013.
First, new power back Latavius Murray scampered 30 yards for a touchdown. Then Mr. Everything Taysom Hill caught a 9-yard scoring pass from Brees. Then, Brees hit Tre’Quan Smith with a 14-yard scoring pass. Finally, Lutz hit a 47-yarder for a 27-21 lead setting up the frenetic finish.
While they didn’t score, Saints stars Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas contributed big play after big play with Kamara refusing to go down on several carries. Kamara finished with seven catches for 72 yards and 13 carries for 97 yards while Thomas caught 10 passes for 123 yards. Brees, after throwing an ill-advised pass that linebacker Whitney Mercilus picked off at the 6-yard line in the quarter, was fantastic, finishing 32 of 43 for 370 yards and two touchdowns. Ginn had an excellent game with seven catches for 101 yards, most coming in the second half.
While Houston’s star offensive players – Watston and receiver DeAndre Hopkins – made more than their share of big plays the Saints defense sacked Watson six times and came up with a big second half interception (safety Marcus Williams). Defensive end Trey Hendrickson led the way with two sacks, while defensive end Cam Jordan, linebacker Alex Anzalone and cornerback P.J. Williams each had one. Macolm Brown and Shy Tuttle shared the other sack.
The victory gives the Saints an early lead in the NFC South as all three of their division foes lost Sunday. New Orleans now will face a daunting two-game road trip, at the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday, Sept. 15 and at the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday, Sept. 22. The team will stay and train on the West Coast.