Optimistically Upset

Texans lose season opener to the Saints on a last-second field goal

Brian Barefield | 9/10/2019, 9 a.m.

“Barefield. You almost got it,” said one of my teammates on the basketball team in high school. What he was referring to was my attempt to try and dunk a basketball. I was very close. So close that after a few tries I just hung on the rim. It gave me a sense that one day soon I would complete the task of dunking like my favorite NBA player at the time, Dominique Wilkins.

That “Oh so close” feeling must be what the Houston Texans felt like after they came up short against the New Orleans Saints on Monday night in a nationally televised game on ESPN in the Mercedes Benz Superdome. The Saints defeated the Texans by a score of 30 – 28 after kicker Wil Lutz hit a 58-yard field goal as time expired off the clock.

“Every loss is very disappointing,” said Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson after the game. “You do everything you can throughout the week in preparation to try and pull out a win. We came so close, but we didn’t do enough to pull it off.”

Watson, who finished the game with 268 yards passing, four total touchdowns (3 passing, 1 rushing) and one interception, played a tremendous game in front of a hostile crowd of 73, 039.

He helped the Texans sustain drives on third downs by converting 7-of-13 attempts (54 percent) and was successful on both attempts in the red-zone.

After a slow first quarter by both teams, the Texans got on the board first with a 21-yard run by Watson capping a seven-play, 94-yard drive. New Orleans responded with a Wil Lutz 32-yard field goal. The Texans would come right back with one of the best drives we have seen from them in a very long time. Houston drove 75-yards in 16 plays and used 7:35 off the clock and scored after Watson found WR DeAndre Hopkins (8 rec, 111 yds, 2 touchdowns) for a 2-yard touchdown pass to increase the lead to 14-3 at the half.

Houston had done a tremendous job of holding one of the most potent offenses in the NFL to only 181 total yards in the first half (160 passing, 21 rushing). But things changed after the kickoff as New Orleans put together a great opening drive that was capped off by a Latavius Murray 30-yard run to bring the Saints within four points of the lead. The Texans would respond with another Watson-to-Hopkins connection for a 16-yard touchdown to increase the lead and let New Orleans know that they were there to compete.

Future Hall of Famer, Drew Brees, (370 yards, 2 touchdowns, 1 interception) who always competes on a very high level, led the Saints on three straight scoring drives to take the lead 27-21. That erased an 11-point deficit in the third quarter for New Orleans. It looked as if that would be enough to put the Texans away, but not when you have such a dynamic quarterback.

Deshaun Watson. He led the Texans on a very quick 75-yard drive and hit Kenny Stills on a 37-yard touchdown strike to take the lead back at 28-27.

“He is a great football player,” said Texans head coach Bill O’Brien about Watson. “He is competitive, he is calm, and he is poised. He has all that.”

One thing the Saints fans know about their quarterback is the game is never over until there is not any time left on the clock. So, to see 37 seconds left must have seemed like an eternity for them and Brees. He marched down the field and put the Saints in position to win the game on a 58-yard Wil Lutz field goal.

“That one’s got to be a top-one moment for me,” said a smiling Lutz during his press conference. “I knew how big this win would be.”

Houston will look to rebound from such a close game as they will take on AFC South divisional foe, Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday at NRG. Kickoff is at 12 pm CST.