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A super finish in the Superdome, and a confident win in the Coliseum. The season-opening “Monday Night Football” doubleheader had it all.
Let’s start in New Orleans, where a back-and-forth fourth quarter that featured three lead changes and three scores in the game’s final minute finished on the leg of Saints kicker Wil Lutz, who knocked in a game-winning 58-yard field goal with zeroes on the clock.
New Orleans Saints 30, Houston Texans 28
1. Result aside, this was Deshaun Watson’s game. The Texans quarterback was battered and bruised by a ferocious Saints defensive front (more on that later), entering the medical tent twice in the first half with an apparent back injury and receiving treatment from a Texans staffer throughout the second half. Despite the hits he took, Watson grew more poised as the game wore on. His connection with DeAndre Hopkins was in midseason form (8 rec, 111 yards, 2 TDs), most notably on Houston’s last-ditch drive.
“We knew we weren’t out of the game,” Hopkins said later of Houston’s late six-point deficit. “We knew it was just a couple of plays, especially with a quarterback like Deshaun.”
The QB with five fourth-quarter comebacks to his name last season, Watson “drove” the Texans 75 yards in just two plays and 13 seconds to steal the lead with under a minute to go. Houston had not scored since early in the third quarter, but with time running out, Watson uncorked his two best balls of the night to pull the Texans ahead — a 38-yard strike to Hopkins on the sideline and a picture-perfect deep score to Kenny Stills, whom Houston acquired in a trade just days ago. All this with an unsettled back and an unsettled line. If not for the comeback king on the other sideline, Watson would have been hailed as Monday night’s hero. Hell, he still is.
2. The Saints keep marching on, doing the same things that took them within a no-call of the Super Bowl. Alvin Kamara, playing his first game without Mark Ingram in New Orleans, was as slippery as ever, racking up 169 total yards on 20 touches. His new backfield mate, Latavius Murray, was used sparingly. Despite the presence of tight end Jared Cook, Michael Thomas was Drew Brees’ top target once again (10 rec, 123 yards). Brees, 40 years young, posted the 116th 300-yard passing game of his career, launching just six of his 43 attempts more than 15 yards through the air. The Saints signal-caller saved his best for last, marching New Orleans into field-goal range in th
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