The Houston Texans face off against the New Orleans Saints in the first “Monday Night Football” matchup of the 2019 season. Follow along for live updates and analysis.
Texans have immediate reply: The second Watson-to-Hopkins touchdown of the night has restored the Texans’ lead to 11 points, this time at 21-10. DeAndre Hopkins’s 16-yard touchdown catch came against safety Marcus Williams this time. The Texans’ drive was extended when an offside penalty against the Saints negated an interception by cornerback Marshon Lattimore. (Texans 21, Saints 10 with 8:20 left in the 3rd quarter)
Saints strike back: The Saints didn’t manage a first-half touchdown. But they struck quickly in the third quarter, drawing to within 14-10 on a 30-yard touchdown run by tailback Latavius Murray. (Texans 14, Saints 10 with 12:51 left in the 3rd quarter)
Texans in command but injury concerns about Watson: Saints fans showed up Monday night at the Superdome to work out their lingering anger about the missed pass interference call in last season’s NFC title game that cost their team a trip to the Super Bowl. Many in the crowd wore black-and-white-striped referee jerseys or carried oversized yellow penalty flags. But, much to their dismay, their frustrations are only mounting. The Texans lead, 14-3, at halftime behind a touchdown run and a touchdown pass by quarterback Deshaun Watson. However, there are injury concerns with Watson, who made two trips to the medical tent on the Texans’ sideline after suffering a hard fall on his back on a leap into the end zone on his 21-yard, fourth-down touchdown scamper. Drew Brees threw a rare red-zone interception and the Saints did not manage a first-half touchdown. Kicker Wil Lutz missed wide left on a 56-yard field goal attempt as time expired in the half, with fans booing loudly about a 10-second runoff of time on the clock on the Saints’ final first-half drive. A replay ruling on a catch by the Saints’ Michael Thomas for a first down necessitated the runoff, under NFL rules. After the runoff, 16 seconds remained in the half. But Mike Pereira, the former NFL officiating czar who is now a rules analyst for Fox, wrote on Twitter that the officials mishandled the replay and should have reset the game clock to 41 seconds before the 10-second runoff to 31 seconds. “Unless I am crazy, Pereira wrote, “they really mishandled the replay. … That took 15 seconds away from the Saints.” (Texans 14, Saints 3 at halftime)
Texans extend lead: The Texans have upped their lead to 14-3 with a 16-play touchdown drive that took 7:35 off the clock. Watson’s two-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, who beat Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore on a third-and-goal slant pattern, capped the long drive. Kenny Stills had his first catch as a member of the Texans on the drive, and a defensive holding penalty on the Saints following a third-down incompletion extended the possession. Watson returned to the medical tent on the Texans’ sideline after the touchdown. (Texans 14, Saints 3 with 1:47 left in the 2nd quarter)
Watson stays in game: Following a relatively lengthy stay in the medical tent on the sideline, Deshaun Watson returned to the field for the start of the Texans’ next offensive series. So he didn’t miss a play after his hard fall on his touchdown run. (Texans 7, Saints 3 with 9:22 left in the 2nd quarter)
Saints reply with field goal: Kicker Wil Lutz’s 32-yard field goal has gotten the Saints on the scoreboard. The Saints have been frustrated on offense so far. They reached the Houston 14-yard line on that drive but settled for the field goal. Brees has connected on 12 of 17 passes for 123 yards. But he threw a costly interception and the Saints are yet to manage a touchdown. (Texans 7, Saints 3 with 9:22 left in the 2nd quarter)
Watson gives Texans the lead: Houston took the lead in the opening minute of the second quarter on a 21-yard, fourth-and-inches run by quarterback Deshaun Watson. Watson landed on his back after leaping into the end zone and headed to the medical tent on the Texans’ sideline after the play. Watson’s touchdown capped a 94-yard drive following linebacker Whitney Mercilus’s interception of a Drew Brees pass. Wide receiver Will Fuller’s 54-yard catch got the Texans moving. Coach Bill O’Brien made a failed instant replay challenge of the spot of the football, looking for a first down, before the fourth down. O’Brien called a timeout right before his challenge, then lost another timeout when it failed. No matter. Watson kept the ball and ran around the left side of the Texans’ formation on the fourth-down play, finishing with his leap across the goal line. (Texans 7, Saints 0 with 14:13 left in the 2nd quarter)
Brees throws pick: A rare mistake by Drew Brees has kept the Saints from taking the lead. They were driving toward a potential go-ahead touchdown when Brees threw an interception to Texans linebacker Whitney Mercilus. Brees was pressured on a second-and-five play from the Houston 11-yard line. He moved to his right and tried to slip a pass to running back Latavius Murray. Instead, the pass went directly to Mercilus for only Brees’s second red-zone interception since the start of the 2017 season. (Saints 0, Texans 0 with 2:55 left in the 1st quarter)
Watson under pressure: The Texans allowed Deshaun Watson to be sacked 62 times last season. That’s one of the big reasons they were willing to surrender such a king’s ransom of draft choices to the Miami Dolphins in the trade for left tackle Laremy Tunsil. But two offensive possessions into the new season, Watson remains under siege. He has been sacked twice by the Saints, and the Texans have punted twice. The Saints have the ball for the second time after punting to end their opening drive when Coach Sean Payton opted against a fourth-and-two gamble from the Houston 45-yard line. (Saints 0, Texans 0 with 7:15 left in 1st quarter)
Saints win replay challenge: It wasn’t instant replay for a pass interference non-call, but Coach Sean Payton and the Saints did win a replay challenge on the Texans’ opening possession. The Saints challenged the on-field call of a legal catch for the Texans’ DeAndre Hopkins, and the call was overturned on review and called an incompletion. The Saints went on to get a third-down sack of Houston quarterback Deshaun Watson and force a punt. (Saints 0, Texans 0 with 13:31 left in 1st quarter)
Texans at Saints
When: Monday at 7:10 p.m. Eastern
Where: Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans
Streaming: ESPN+, fuboTV
The latest attempt by quarterback Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints to get back to a Super Bowl begins Monday night when they host the Houston Texans in their season-opening game.
The Saints-Texans matchup is part of a “Monday Night Football” doubleheader that concludes with the Denver Broncos playing at Oakland, as the Raiders begin their second season with Jon Gruden as their coach and try to recover from the Antonio Brown debacle.
The Saints return to the scene of the officiating debacle in last season’s NFC championship game in New Orleans that helped cost them a spot in the Super Bowl. That infamous non-call sent the Los Angeles Rams, not the Saints, to last season’s Super Bowl and led to the NFL’s offseason rule change that made pass interference calls and non-calls reviewable by instant replay.
Saints Coach Sean Payton was a strong advocate for the replay modification. But it didn’t fix what happened in the NFC title game, and it didn’t mollify many Saints fans who were so outraged by the blunder.
The previous two Saints seasons have ended in postseason heartbreak, beginning with the miraculous last-second touchdown by the Minnesota Vikings that eliminated New Orleans from the playoffs and ended its 2017 season. The Super Bowl opportunities are dwindling for the 40-year-old Brees as he and Payton attempt to recreate the magic from the Saints’ championship season in 2009.
The supporting cast around Brees remains strong, led by running back Alvin Kamara and wide receiver Michael Thomas. The Saints made Thomas the NFL’s highest-paid wide receiver with a contract extension worth close to $20 million per season. But that deal was surpassed Saturday by the extension, worth $22 million a year, that Julio Jones completed with the Atlanta Falcons.
The Texans begin their season on the heels of the much-debated recent roster retooling overseen by Coach Bill O’Brien. The team has been operating without a general manager, giving increased authority over the roster to O’Brien. And many believed that the Texans didn’t get enough in the trade that sent defensive end Jadeveon Clowney to the Seattle Seahawks while surrendering too much in the deal that brought left tackle Laremy Tunsil and wide receiver Kenny Stills from the Miami Dolphins.
Whatever the compensation, the trade with the Dolphins should benefit the Texans in the short term. Tunsil should provide capable blind-side protection for quarterback Deshaun Watson, who was sacked 62 times last season. Stills gives Watson a pass-catching complement to top wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins. The defense must prove, though, that the loss of Clowney won’t be overly harmful.
The Patriots looked unbeatable against the Steelers. And now they add Antonio Brown.
Ben Roethlisberger brushes off Antonio Brown questions with a curt, ‘Whatever’
Clayton: The AFC is worse than we thought, and more NFL Week 1 takeaways
For the Browns and others, Week 1 of the NFL season delivers an unexpected shock to the system
Brewer: It’s Antonio Brown’s NFL now, and everyone else is just living in it