In a wild Monday Night Football game, the New Orleans Saints edged out Houston Texans and won minimally, 30-28. The hero of the match was Saints’ kicker Wil Lutz who scored a 58-yard field goal, as the time expired, setting on fire the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
Just 37 seconds before Lutz’ fantastic kick, the Texans took the lead through the former New Orleans’ wide receiver, Kenny Stills. Deshaun Watson threw a 37-yard TD pass, finding Stills, and lifting the guests to 28-27.
But what was the biggest error of the Texans is the fact that they left 37 seconds on the clock to one of the best quarterbacks ever, Drew Brees. He found Ted Ginn Jr. twice, and Michael Thomas once, setting a chance for his kicker. And Lutz used it.
“When you have Drew as your quarterback, all I cared about was getting ready for the kick, because I knew with 37 seconds left there was going to be a chance,” Lutz said.
The 25-year old had an additional pressure on his shoulders because the Saints wanted to snap a five-game losing streak at the season opener. Plus, they needed to erase all the bad memories from the previous NFC game against the Rams, when officials killed their Super Bowl dream.
“That one’s got to be a top-one moment for me,” Lutz said, “I got to be honest. That one felt a little different.”
Lutz had two more accurate field goal attempts, one 32 and one 47 yards long.
Brees, meanwhile, threw for 370 yards, 32 of 43, had two TDs and one interception. But when needed the most he showed up and delivered.
“We practice that, and I think we felt like we knew exactly what we need to do in order to get ourselves a win,” Brees explained the last drive before Lutz’s field goal.
Michael Thomas caught 10 passes for 123 yards, Ted Ginn 7 for 101, while Alvin Kamara added 72 passing yards. He also rushed for 97 yards, totaling up to 169 from the scrimmage.
But neither of the superstars mentioned above scored a TD for the hosts. Latavius Murray carried the ball once to the end zone, while Tre’Quan Smith and Taysom Hill added one each by receiving.
On the other side, DeAndre Hopkins was unstoppable. Arguably the best wide receiver in the NFL, had two touchdowns. Hopkins ended the game with 111 receiving yards.
He was very displeased with the officiating, as he received a penalty for one tackle on Saints’ Marcus Williams. Once Williams picked up Watson’s pass, Hopkins stopped him, but the referees told that his body slam was illegal and penalized the Texans.
“I didn’t know that I can’t tackle like that. The ref said ‘you can’t tackle like that,’ so I guess I’ll play touch next time.”
Watson completed 20 of his 30 passing attempts and collected 268 yards with three TD passes. He also rushed for one score, on the fourth-down play less than a minute into the second period. The Texans had more yards on the ground, 180, compared to 148 of the Saints, but we need to stress out that against Sean Payton’s defense, that is quite a lot.
Unfortunately, that didn’t help Houston to start this season in a better manner.
The Texans will have a chance to improve the first impression next Sunday at home, when they meet injury-plagued Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jags will come to Texas without several starters, among them Nick Foles who picked up an injury against the Kansas City Chiefs in the season opener.
Meanwhile, the Saints will have a huge battle coming up on Sunday, as they travel to LA to meet the Rams. The wounds from the NFC game are still fresh, and by all means, this isn’t going to be an ordinary game for them.