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Texans fall to Saints 38-14


Tight end Owen Daniels caught a short pass for three yards.

In a preseason battle of potent offenses, the Texans sputtered while the New Orleans Saints flourished.

Aside from a promising first quarter, the Texans' offense had trouble with ball security and its red zone execution, while the defense had trouble containing the league's top-ranked offense from a year ago.

In front of 70,107 fans at Reliant Stadium, the Texans lost 38-14 in a game that the Saints dominated physically from beginning to end.

Few things went right for Houston in a game that coach Gary Kubiak called "humbling." The Texans turned the ball over three times, including twice inside the Saints' red zone. Defensively, the Texans allowed 420 net yards of offense, including 173 rushing yards. Finally, on special teams, the Texans gave up a 79-yard punt return for a touchdown.

"In all three phases, they were more physical than we were as a team," Kubiak said. "We started fast but after they answered that first drive I thought they were the most physical team throughout the game."

One of the few bright spots was quarterback Matt Schaub, who completed 11-of-16 passes with an eight-yard touchdown toss to wide receiver David Anderson on the game's opening possession. This preseason, Schaub is 18-of-23 with no interceptions.

"We didn't come out and run the ball like we should against some of their defenses, and they ran the ball on our defense more than we would want to give up," Schaub said. "So it's just things that we've got to go back and we've got to clean up. We've got to just stand up and say that we're not going to let that happen."

Behind quarterback Drew Brees, the Saints responded to Anderson's score with a 10-play, 70-yard drive capped by a nine-yard touchdown catch by a wide open Pierre Thomas.

{QUOTE}On the Saints' next drive, linebacker Xavier Adibi leveled wide receiver Devery Henderson to break up a third down pass at the nine-yard line. After a false start penalty by New Orleans moved the ball back five yards, kicker Garrett Hartley missed the 32-yard attempt to give Houston possession.

Matt Turk's second consecutive punt set up running back Mike Bell's 46-yard touchdown run off the right guard.

Trailing 14-7 with 3:15 remaining in the first half, quarterback Dan Orlovsky took over for Schaub. On Orlovsky's second pass attempt, cornerback Jabari Greer intercepted his pass intended for wide receiver Jacoby Jones and returned it 23 yards to the New Orleans 44.

"Bad play by me," Orlovsky said. "(The) defense shut the play down that was called. I should have just probably thrown it away and moved on to the next play. Bad decision by me, so it's just something that needed to be learned and make sure it's not made again."

In their two-minute offense, the Saints marched 52 yards on 10 plays to set up Hartley's 22-yard field goal attempt, which made the score 17-7 at halftime.

On the Texans' opening drive of the third quarter, Orlovsky lobbed a pass down the right sideline to Andre Davis for a 23-yard touchdown. On the seven-play, 64-yard drive, Orlovsky passed for 42 yards on three completions. Kris Brown's extra point cut the Saints' lead to 17-14.

With 7:36 left in the third quarter, wide receiver Rod Harper returned Turk's punt 78 yards for a touchdown.

On the first play of the next drive, rookie tight end James Casey made his first catch when he hauled in a 21-yard pass from Orlovsky to the New Orleans 46. Two catches for 23 yards by wide receiver Glenn Martinez put Houston in scoring range at the Saints' 11-yard line. On fourth-and-goal at the one-yard line, Orlovsky was sacked for a 19-yard loss and fumbled after a poorly executed play action fake.

"It's one of those plays that you know it's fourth down so I was trying to get something," Orlovsky said. "Right when I came around the defender was right there and I was just trying to get my arms up above his head and just try to lob the ball because James had a step on his guy."

With 13:06 left in the contest, Turk punted 60 yards to the Saints' one-yard line. Veteran quarterback Mark Brunell dug the Saints out of the hole, passing for 49 yards on four carries before running back Herb Donaldson scored on a 15-yard run.

Safety John Busing and defensive end Tim Jamison split a sack with 5:23 on the game clock, but a face mask penalty negated the five-yard loss. On the next play, Brunell threw a 47-yard bomb to wide receiver Adrian Arrington to the Texans' two-yard line. Running back P.J. Hill's one-yard score stretched the Saints' lead to 38-14.

Quarterback Alex Brink replaced Orlovsky on the Texans' final drive. He was picked off in the red zone to put the finishing touches on a forgettable game.

NOTES: For the Texans, the following players are not dressed for the game: cornerback Jacques Reeves, linebacker Cato June, center Chris Myers, linebacker Brian Cushing, guard Chester Pitts and defensive tackle Travis Johnson...tackle Cliff Washburn left the game in the second half with a strained left calf muscle...rookie defensive end Connor Barwin collected his second sack of the preseason.

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