It doesn't count in the standings and Bill O'Brien fielded a facsimile of the starting line up but there was still plenty to take away from Houston's 27-13 take down of the New Orleans Saints.
After being named starting quarterback earlier in the week, Brian Hoyer played like it, hitting all his passes on a promising first drive that ended with Alfred Blue's one yard touchdown run.
Hoyer looked sharp and stayed in the game for two extra series as the offensive line morphed into the second unit. It was no small thing that they kept the heat off him on the opening drive with rookie left tackle Kendall Lamm holding down the edge.
Ryan Mallett's first two possessions started in perilous situations, at the Houston two and ten yard lines. He eventually caught fire, going 6-8 on the opening drive of the third quarter. The offense put together a 16-play piece of work that ended with a touchdown pass to Jaelen Strong on 4th down.
Tom Savage had his moments, engineering the third 80-yard TD drive of the day and hitting Chandler Worthy for a touchdown.
Running the ball was no easy feat as the Texans didn't eclipse the three yards per carry 'Mendoza line' of pro football.
But, they seemed to get pop when they needed it. The healthy 3rd down conversion number (50%) helped move things along. The mixing and matching on the offensive line probably had something to do with the inconsistent ground production. And you know the play calling and scheme will be adjusted once the games count.
Charles James had a long touchdown run wiped out by a holding call but served notice that when you face the Texans, you better prepare for all sorts of possibilities.
Defensively, the Texans had some bright spots like the forced fumble by Tony Washington, a pass-break-up in the end zone by rookie Kevin Johnson and Akeem Dent racking up a sack. Drew Brees made things look a bit too comfortable on the opening drive until things solidified and the Saints were held to one of their two field goals on the day.
This was not a thing of beauty but it was important to get some work against a team that put up the top offense in the league last year. And getting Hoyer to take snaps as the anointed starter was another significant sign post. Seeing Mallett work through some things to heat up was also a welcome sight.
There were some pluses and some other items on the opposite side of the ledger but ultimately the Texans prevailed and have a pretty clear picture of the work that's ahead of them. We're within two weeks of opening day and there are a lot of tough decisions to make on the final roster. But that's the way you want it.
The Texans and Saints tangled in New Orleans for a preseason game.