NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) -Andy Dalton threw a touchdown pass on his lone possession in his New Orleans debut, but the Saints fell 17-13 to the Houston Texans on Saturday night after a touchdown in the last minute.
Dalton, who joined the Saints after spending last season with the Bears, started with Jameis Winston who was out after injuring his foot in practice on Monday.
Dalton was a perfect 5 for 5 for 51 yards. He threw a 9-yard touchdown pass to Dwayne Washington to put New Orleans at 7-0 early.
Houston quarterback Davis Mills was 3 for 3 for 14 yards in two drives where the team failed to get a first down.
The Texans will remain with Mills as their starter this season, despite a subpar rookie campaign as he played 13 games in the team’s terrible 4-13 season.
Both teams had the debut of new head coaches with Dennis Allen taking over from Sean Payton in New Orleans and Lovie Smith replacing David Culley for the Texans. Both Allen and Smith landed the top job after serving as their team’s defensive coordinators last season.
The winning TD connection came courtesy of a Jeff Driskell to Jaleel Johnson 6-yard score.
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Jeff Driskel threw a 6-yard touchdown pass to rookie Johnny Johnson III in the last minute to lift Houston to victory.
The Texans narrowed the lead to 7-3 on a 49-yard field goal by Ka’imi Fairbairn late in the first quarter.
Houston took a 10-7 lead when Driskel connected with Jalen Camp early in the second on a 4-yard touchdown pass. That score came after Obo Okoronkwo recovered a fumble from quarterback Ian Book.
Camp had a 49-meter reception on Houston’s final drive to set the score.
The Saints tied it about two minutes before halftime on a 23-yard field goal by Will Lutz.
A 36-yard field goal by John Parker Romo put New Orleans at 13-10 early in the fourth quarter.
Receiver Chris Olave, 11th overall, and 19th pick left tackle Trevor Penning made their New Orleans debut Saturday night. Olave had a reception for 4 yards.
One bright spot for the Texans was rookie Dameon Pierce’s fourth-round play, who had five carries for 49 yards. Houston is expected to start Marlon Mack, but Pierce is also likely to roll up his sleeves this season as the team tries to improve on a run that has been among the worst in the NFL over the past two seasons.
Houston rookie safety Jalen Pitre, a second round pick, had a solid debut with four tackles, including one for a loss.
Chase Hansen led the Saints with six tackles, including two for losses, and returned an interception from 44 yards to set up a field goal in the second quarter.
It was one of three interceptions thrown by Driskel.
The Texans were without their two first round draft picks with cornerback Derek Stingley Jr., third overall, and left guard Kenyon Green, the 15th pick, who missed the game with injuries.
Stingley has attended training but is slowly being taken along as he recovers from surgery in September to repair a torn ligament in his foot. Green recently missed practice time with a knee injury.
Stingley was a consensus All-America roster as a freshman in 2019 but has been hampered by injury for the past two seasons, including being limited to just three games at LSU last year due to the foot injury. Despite the setbacks, the Texans are confident he will be able to intervene early and help reverse a secondary that was among the league’s worst last season.
Saints: Visit the Green Bay Packers Friday night.
Texans: Visit the Los Angeles Rams Friday night.
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