Every-Thing Sports

Saints vs. Texans: Good, Bad & Ugly

Photo by New Orleans Saints/Facebook

The Saints got more of a game than what they are used to in prime time at home in a stunning 30-28 win over the Texans. This game encompassed a lot of what football fans love about the game: defensive plays, hard runs, great pass plays, lots of offense, and a game winning play as time expired! Here's how I saw it play out:

The Good

-Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson held his own against Saints quarterback Drew Brees. It was very exciting to watch one of the game's up and coming stars face off against a future Hall of Famer at the game's premier position. Watson totaled 274 total yards and four touchdowns to Brees' 362 yards and two touchdowns. Contrasts of styles make fights and this was a classic!

-For as much potential as both teams have for creating turnovers with pass rushers like the Texans' JJ Watt and Saints' Cam Jordan, the two teams combined for only two turnovers. They also combined for 924 total yards of offense and 58 points scored. Both offenses and defenses came to play and the better team ultimately won.

-Saints kicker Will Lutz won the game on a 58-yard field goal as time expired. He recently signed a 5 year/$20.25million dollar extension this offseason and earned every penny with his game winner. Lutz has been the offense's saving grace on several drives since coming to the team as an undrafted free agent the Saints picked up less than a week after the Ravens cut him in the 2016 offseason.

The Bad

-Texans left tackle Laremy Tunsil's first true test came on 3rd&15 in the 1st quarter. Saints defensive end Cam Jordan beat him, Senio Kelmete, and Nick Martin on an inside move. Chemistry is big on the offensive line and they don't have it yet.

-Bill O'Brien called a timeout, then challenged the spot and lost on a 3rd & 9 play that made it 4th & 1. Not only did he lose a challenge, but consequently lost two first half timeouts. Deshaun Watson was able to convert the 4th & 1 and scored. Had O'Brien simply called that play, he could've saved the timeouts and challenge.

-328 of the 924 combined yards gained came on the ground. The Saints were missing their top three defensive tackles for various reasons, and the Texans traded their top run stuffer for some ramen noodles, malt liquor, and loose cigarettes. Needless to say, both run games had a field day.

The Ugly

-I try not to use the word "hate" much, but I HATE ESPN's yellow down graphic on the lower third! It changes after every down to show the down and distance. Always a great idea, but it makes you think there's a penalty coming. Poor choice by someone who makes big money to make these decisions.

-Watson went to the Texans' medical tent for a good amount of time after his touchdown run because he took a hit to one of his legs as he went airborne for the score. He also got sacked several times this game. He's too important to take unnecessary risks and to not be given better pocket protection.

-What kind of clock running fiasco did the refs pull on the Saints at the end of the first half? It cost them about 10-15 seconds and a chance to score before the half. The Texans' defense did a tremendous job keeping this high-powered offense in check as much as they could. The ESPN referee analyst (or whatever they're called these days) agreed that the call was wrong and they should've had more time on the clock given that they didn't challenge the ruling on the field. Helluva job by the Texans defense to hold this offense to "only" 30 points.

WOW! I thought the LSU/UT game was the game of the weekend when it came to football. However, the pro teams from the same respective states provided an even more exciting game and ending. As a life-long fan of one team, and a professional interest in the other, I have a unique perspective on both teams. I was impresed by both teams. Both teams have a lot to lok forward to this season. I can see both making deep playoff runs. Health will be a factor. But if it isn't, I can easily see both teams in a Super Bowl rematch...provided other outsode factors break their way.

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After splitting the first two games of the series, including the extra-inning affair on Saturday, the Astros looked to defeat the Angels on Saturday to secure the series win and leave Los Angeles with a winning record. On the mound were two pitchers looking to shrug off bad debuts to the season. Here is how the game went on Sunday afternoon:

Final Score (11 innings): Astros 6, Angels 5.

Record: 5-4, first in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Blake Taylor (1-0, 0.00 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Jacob Barnes (0-2, 3.86 ERA).

James walks his way into trouble

After a disastrous start to his pitching season where he was unable to record an out, Shohei Ohtani was able to sit down the Astros 1-2-3 on just eight pitches in the top of the first. However, Houston would take advantage of his struggling command in the top of the second, working three straight walks to load the bases with no outs. They then would get two more walks with two outs to grab an early 2-0 lead and end Ohtani's day early yet again.

Meanwhile, on the mound for Houston was Josh James. He, too, allowed some walks but was able to work around them in the first two innings, erasing two in the bottom of the first and one in the second for two scoreless innings.

That changed in the third when he would walk the bases loaded with two outs before Albert Pujols continued his nearly twenty-year reign of being a thorn in Houston's side, hitting a grand slam, Los Angeles' first hit of the day, to put the Angels up 4-2. James would get the final out of the third, but that would conclude his day, making it two straight starts he would be unable to reach the fourth inning. His final line: 3.0 IP, 1 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 6 BB, 4K, 1 HR.

Valdez impresses as Bregman makes it a one-run game in the seventh

Framber Valdez was first out of Houston' bullpen, likely to try and eat up several innings. He would accomplish that mission, getting through the next three innings scoreless, holding the 4-2 score. It remained locked on that score despite Houston getting runners on base in each of those innings, as they would struggle to turn players on base into runs yet again in this series.

Alex Bregman gave the Astros a spark in the top of the seventh, leading off the inning with a solo home run to straightaway center to make it a one-run game. Valdez returned for yet another inning, another scoreless frame to keep it 4-3 going to the eighth.

Reddick ties it in the ninth, Astros win in extras

Houston would threaten to tie in the top of the eighth, getting a pinch-hitting Carlos Correa to third base after a single to leadoff the inning, but would be unable to score him, leaving it at 4-3. Valdez would record another scoreless inning in the bottom of the eighth, giving the Astros one more chance to tie or go ahead in the top of the ninth.

Michael Brantley led off the inning with a double and was pinch-run by Myles Straw, who would score the tying run on an RBI-single by Josh Reddick, but the Angels would hold the Astros there. Valdez remained in the game trying to push extra innings and would do so, erasing a leadoff walk.

Kyle Tucker started the top of the tenth on second base and moved to third on a sac fly by Carlos Correa to start the inning before scoring on another sac fly, this time from pinch-hitting Garrett Stubbs to give Houston a 5-4 lead. Valdez, well above his comfortable pitch count, was still on the mound in the bottom of the tenth, and allowed his first run, though unearned, on a leadoff RBI-single to tie the game again at 5-5. He would get one more out before Houston moved to another reliever, bringing in Andre Scrubb.

After an intentional walk to Albert Pujols, Scrubb would walk the bases loaded before getting a popout, then Houston would turn to Blake Taylor. Taylor would come through, getting a big strikeout to send the game to the eleventh. Springer started on second in the top of the inning and would score and put the Astros back in front on a one-out RBI-single by Alex Bregman. In the bottom half, Taylor would get through the inning, giving Houston the win and series victory.

Up Next: The Astros will have a day off tomorrow before picking up a three-game set with the Diamondbacks in Arizona on Tuesday. The opening game of that series will be at 8:10 PM Central. While Arizona is expected to start Madison Bumgarner, the Astros will have to pivot as they had Framber Valdez slated for that start, who made a lengthy appearance out of the bullpen on Sunday.

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