Sunday in New Orleans, the Saints fell behind early to the Texans, but hung in and in the end used a little rookie magic to finally top the Texans 40-33 in the wildest game of 2011 as of this far.
New Orleans finally took the lead for good on Mark Ingram’s first career touchdown, a 13- yard touchdown run in the waning minutes of the fourth quarter.
On the previous drive, Kevin Walter caught a deflected pass from Matt Schaub and escaped for a 20-yard touchdown to put the Texans (2-1) on top 33-32.
Schaub completed 22-of-39 passes for 373 yards and three touchdowns against an interception for Houston, which was denied its first-ever 3-0 start.
Drew Brees threw for 370 yards and three touchdowns against two interceptions for the Saints (2-1).
Brees was intercepted by Danieal Manning in the closing minutes of the third quarter and Schaub capitalized, finding James Casey on 3rd-and-6 along the sideline for a diving, 26-yard touchdown strike to give the Texans a 26-17 lead.
On their next possession, the Texans went three-and-out from their own 15- yard-line and Brett Hartmann’s lackluster punt gave the Saints the ball at midfield.
This time Brees capitalized on third down, hitting Jimmy Graham in single coverage along the sideline for a 27-yard score to make it a 26-24 game.
Schaub was intercepted by Jabari Greer on Houston’s next drive and New Orleans again took over at midfield. Then, on 3rd-and-6, Brees hit Lance Moore for a 16-yard touchdown. The pair connected again on the two-point conversion attempt for a 32-26 Saints lead.
Houston responded with Walter’s improbable touchdown reception to go on top with a little over four minutes remaining. Schaub attempted a short pass to a blanketed Joel Dreessen. Saints linebacker Jonathan Casillas reached in and deflected the ball, but Walter made the catch inches from the ground and sprinted into the endzone.
Ingram, a former Heisman Trophy winner, capped an eight-play, 93-yard touchdown drive with a 13-yard touchdown scamper between the tackles to give the Saints the win.
Schaub’s 4th-and-21 heave on the ensuing possession fell incomplete to seal the Texans’ fate.
Houston was once-again denied its first-ever 3-0 start. The team got off to the same 2-1 start last season before dropping nine of its final 13 games.
Still, the Texans appeared headed for history early, scoring on their opening drive on Owen Daniels’ 14-yard touchdown catch, before Neil Rackers made it a 10-0 game with a 22-yard field goal.
The defense, under new coordinator Wade Phillips, held the Saints off the board until Darren Sproles’ 30-yard touchdown run early in the second quarter.
The Texans drove inside the Saints 10-yard line on each of their next two possessions, but had to settle for Rackers’ field goals.
John Kasay hit a 35-yard field goal for the Saints towards the end of the quarter and Houston held a 16-10 edge at the half.
On the opening drive of the third quarter, New Orleans marched 73 yards down the field and Brees connected with Robert Meachem for a short touchdown pass and a 17-16 lead.
Rackers hit a 36-yarder on the ensuing possession to reestablish the Texans’ advantage.