The Saints found the offensive improvement they were looking for last week, and the Houston Texans will attempt to follow suit when they face visiting New Orleans on Sunday afternoon.
The Saints (3-2) ended a streak of 10 consecutive games with 21 points or fewer by defeating the New England Patriots 34-0 last Sunday.
Meanwhile, Houston (2-3) managed just one touchdown and settled for four field goals in a 21-19 road loss to Atlanta in Week 5.
“The question for us now is whether we can do it consistently,” New Orleans quarterback Derek Carr said of his team’s offensive production.
The Saints, who scored just four offensive touchdowns during the first four weeks of the season, got two scoring passes from Carr and a rushing TD from Alvin Kamara, which was more than enough offense to down New England. The defense stole the show, holding the Patriots to just 156 yards of total offense, and Tyrann Mathieu had a 27-yard pick-6.
New Orleans had season highs of 42 rushes and 136 yards on the ground against New England.
“Third-and-7 is a lot different than third-and-2 in this league,” Carr said. “It’s a whole different world when you turn on the tape and see what defenses are doing on third-and-long.”
The Saints had their best red-zone performance of the season, scoring three touchdowns on four trips. The only scoreless red-zone possession came when they ran out the clock at the end of the game.
The Texans, on the other hand, had significant trouble finishing drives. Ka’imi Fairbairn’s field goals came after the offense stalled at Atlanta’s 19, 25, 10 and 24.
“We can’t be kicking field goals all day long,” said tight end Dalton Schultz, who scored Houston’s only touchdown on an 18-yard pass from rookie C.J. Stroud that gave the Texans a 19-18 lead with 1:49 remaining.
Being unable to frequently find the end zone cost the Texans when Atlanta’s Younghoe Koo kicked a 37-yard field goal as time expired.
Stroud, the No. 2 overall selection in this year’s draft, set an NFL record by starting his career with 177 pass attempts without an interception. He completed 20 of 35 passes for 249 yards and the TD against the Falcons and wasn’t sacked for the third consecutive game.
“He’s playing at a very high level,” Saints coach Dennis Allen said of Stroud, “not for a rookie but for any NFL quarterback.”
Houston didn’t turn the ball over and forced two turnovers a week ago, but it scored just three points off of those takeaways.
“We have to make sure we’re turning those turnovers into points,” Texans coach DeMeco Ryans said.
Wide receivers Tank Dell (concussion) and Robert Woods (ribs) were among those who did not practice for Houston on Wednesday. Defensive tackle Maliek Collins (abdomen), offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil (knee) and cornerback Shaquill Griffin (calf) were also held out.
Tight end Juwan Johnson (calf) and special teams leader J.T. Gray (hamstring) were two of five Saints to miss Wednesday’s practice.
New Orleans starting safety Marcus Maye was activated this week after serving a three-game suspension for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy.