The Texans dominated in their first road appearance of the 2015 preseason to defeat the New Orleans Saints 27-13, even with a majority of starters on the sideline watching.
The defense, without J.J. Watt, Vince Wilfork and Johnathan Joseph, held the Saints to just two field goals in the first half.
The trio of Texans quarterbacks led the offense on scoring drives. Alfred Blue rushed for the Texans' first touchdown of the day, while rookies Jaelen Strong and Chandler Worthy were on the receiving end of the other two. Strong led the receivers with five catches for 40 yards and the touchdown.
Houston improved its red zone scoring, finishing 3-of-4 in red zone efficiency and a perfect 2-of-2 in goal line situations.
Brian Hoyer got his second start in the preseason., orchestrating scoring drives on two of his three series in the game. Hoyer was 7-of-11 for 82 yards and an 86.2 passer rating.
Ryan Mallett took over in the second quarter and played one series in the third quarter. He threw a touchdown pass to Strong and led another drive that resulted in a field goal. Mallett completed 9-of-17 for 77 yards and one touchdown.
Tom Savage played for most of the second half and also added a touchdown pass to Worthy in the fourth quarter. Savage completed 5-of-7 passes for 58 yards and the score.
Drew Brees played just one series, which resulted in a 28-yard field goal for the Saints. Brees completed 4-of-6 for 40 yards. Luke McCown took over and was 8-for-17 for 117 yards.
The Texans defense had two sacks on the day, with Akeem Dent and rookie outside linebacker Tony Washington both getting to Saints quarterbacks.
On the opening drive, Hoyer threw a 29-yard pass to DeAndre Hopkins. He would try to find Hopkins in the end zone several plays later. Hopkins came down with a 19-yard catch in between defenders, that was ruled incomplete. A defensive pass interference call placed the ball at the Saints one-yard line. Blue dove into the end zone to score on the one-yard touchdown run to cap off a seven-play, 80-yard drive.
Hoyer's second drive ended in a 49-yard field goal by Randy Bullock. The Texans took a 10-3 lead in the first quarter.
With 7:51 remaining in the second quarter, Mallett entered the game. He was held to three-and-out on his first two drives but led a scoring drive on the Texans' final possession of the first half. After the ruling on a 15-yard touchdown pass to Ryan Griffin was reversed, the Texans settled for a field goal. Bullock added his second of the day, a 29-yarder.
Mallett returned to start the second half for his final series of the game. After leading the offense down to the Saints 6-yard line, Mallett threw a touchdown pass to Strong on fourth down. The Texans extended their lead 20-6.
New Orleans scored its lone touchdown of the day in the third quarter on a 45-yard run by Edwin Baker, closing the Texans lead to within one score.
Savage added the Texans' third and final touchdown of the day. After a defensive pass interference call on the Saints moved the ball 29 yards, Savage connected with Worthy on a six-yard touchdown pass. It capped off a 12-play, 80-yard drive that lasted 7:04.
Jumal Rolle intercepted a pass from Saints quarterback Ryan Griffin with 0:18 remaining in the game as the Texans finished their third preseason game with a 27-13 win.
The (2-1) Texans will travel to Dallas for their final preseason game on Thursday at 7 p.m. CT on KTRK ABC-13 and SportsRadio 610.
The Texans and Saints tangled in New Orleans for a preseason game.