NFL Analysis: Preseason Week 3 Saints vs Texans

In a thrilling climax to their NFL preseason, the Houston Texans clinched a 17-13 victory against the New Orleans Saints. This match saw a beautiful blend of new talents making their mark and seasoned veterans reiterating their prowess on the field.

Rookie sensation, C.J. Stroud, initiated the game for the Texans. Completing 2 out of 4 passes and accumulating 16 yards, he also recorded his first professional touchdown pass. Stroud’s promising pass to Nico Collins was a crucial element in the Texans’ victory on that electrifying Sunday night.

The Saints, on the other hand, found their silver lining in the form of Jimmy Graham. A revered veteran with 14 years of NFL experience, Graham stood out in the first half, catching three impressive passes that spanned 34 yards. His touchdown in the second quarter held special significance – it was his 57th score for the Saints.

While Stroud’s play hinted at a promising future, Graham’s performance was a nostalgic reminder of his glory days. Especially from 2010 to 2014, his initial years with the Saints, where his synergy with then-quarterback Drew Brees was loved by NFL Lines.

The five-time Pro Bowl tight end showcased why he was missed last season. His tactical use of his 6-foot-7 frame allowed him to effectively negotiate tight coverages and secure contested catches. His 3-yard touchdown pass, masterfully received from Jameis Winston, followed a critical 25-yard reception, giving New Orleans a tactical advantage at Houston’s 11-yard line.

Graham’s touchdown celebration was a memorable moment. He feigned a basketball-style dunk over the goal post, reminiscent of his previous trademark TD celebrations, only to change tack at the last moment. He chose instead to powerfully throw the ball against the padded wall behind the end zone, possibly to avoid a flag. A rule against such celebrations came into effect in 2014, especially after an incident where Graham knocked the goalpost out of alignment in 2013.

There was a palpable cloud over Graham’s participation following his absence in the previous game against the Chargers, which was due to a concerning event where he was arrested after a possible seizure. The event culminated with charges on suspicion of being influenced by a substance. Fortunately, he was back to training by Wednesday and, although he refrained from addressing the media post-match, his performance spoke volumes.

Shifting the spotlight back to the Texans, veteran running back Mike Boone demonstrated remarkable agility and skill, sealing a 17-10 lead with an 11-yard run in the third quarter. As the game progressed, the Saints had a glimmer of hope with rookie kicker, Blake Grupe, successfully hitting field goals from 38 and 50 yards, although he missed a 60-yard attempt.

The game’s climax was intense. New Orleans had two golden opportunities to turn the tables. However, their hopes were dashed by safety Grayland Arnold and cornerback Cameron Dantzler, both intercepting passes from rookie QB Jake Haener, with Dantzler’s interception in the concluding moments sealing the game’s fate.

Notable performances

From a performance perspective, Shaquill Griffin of the Texans showcased his defensive skills. During his 23 coverage snaps in the initial half, he was approached twice and conceded just a single 2-yard catch. He also managed to force an incompletion on another attempt.

For the Saints, Bryan Bresee stood out. The defensive lineman exhibited one of his best performances with the Saints. Out of his 15 pass-rush snaps, he recorded two hurries and successfully won two more reps that didn’t convert into pressure.

Injury Report

The game, however, wasn’t without its tense moments. The Texans’ guard, Jarrett Patterson, found himself in a tight spot, requiring medical attention after a fumble recovery. This incident occurred when Malcolm Roach of the Saints, in a decisive move, sacked and stripped QB Davis Mills of the ball. Thankfully, Patterson managed to walk off the field unassisted. Keep an eye on these injuries as they might affect NFL Odds.

In summary, this preseason finale was a potpourri of action, strategy, and emotions for both teams. It provided a balanced view of raw talent and veteran expertise, promising an exciting season ahead.