The Texans defense was without a trio of veterans Sunday, but still trumphed over the Saints, 27-13.
Defensive linemen J.J. Watt and Vince Wilfork, as well as cornerback Johnathan Joseph didn't play a snap. Linebacker Brian Cushing and cornerback Kareem Jackson played sparingly. But the New Orleans Saints were able to muster just a pair of field goals in the first half.
It was by no means perfect, but head coach Bill O'Brien was pleased with what he saw from his defense on Sunday.
"In the end, they bowed up in the red area, which I think was good to see," O'Brien said. "The red area defense, overall, was pretty good today. But I would say that we gave up to many plays in between."
Cushing finished with a pair of tackles and a battted pass, and said he looks forward to when the whole defensive unit is on the field together.
"It's going to be fun," Cushing said. "We have a little bit of work to do, still. But for the most part, we've played good, collective defense and we're able to build upon that."
The Texans and Saints tangled in New Orleans for a preseason game.
With key contributors watching from the sideline, O'Brien said it was encouraging to see such a resilient performance from some of his reserves on defense. It paid dividends in the short term on Sunday, but O'Brien pointed out some advantages the team gains for the long term as well.
"They get to go against really good players on the other side of the ball," O'Brien said. "They get more reps. We're able to evaluate those guys more. They're in more situations where I think they can learn how to adjust in the situation better. So I think it is good when other guys get chances."
The head coach kept Watt, Wilfork and Joseph out "in the best interests of the team", and they won't play on Thursday evening at Arlington against the Cowboys.
The Texans fans showed up strong in New Orleans for the preseason game vs. the Saints.