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Saints Offense Looks Midseason Form in 34-27 Win Over Texans


Matt Schaub and Drew Brees look ready as ever for the games that will count.

The defenses they picked apart might feel differently about the work they have left to do in a short couple weeks.

The star quarterbacks for Houston and New Orleans combined for 373 yards passing in a high-scoring first half, and Joseph Morgan’s touchdown catch late in the fourth quarter lifted the Saints to a 34-27 preseason victory over the Texans on Saturday night.

“I feel like we have been sharp for the most part,” Brees said. “Even though it hasn’t been perfect, I think we’ve been pretty efficient.

“We have very high expectations for our team, this offense. We set the bar pretty high,” Brees continued. “We just know how good we can be and we want to continue to test that limit as often as possible.”

Schaub completed 15-of-18 passes for 194 yards and a touchdown, but three turnovers by Houston (No. 4 in the AP Pro 32) helped the Saints (No. 9) stay close despite two fumbles of their own.

“We were explosive. Our quarterback was excellent. He has had a great camp,” Houston coach Gary Kubiak said. “I was pleased offensively with the way we moved the ball. I was not pleased with the turnovers.”

Brees was 17 of 25 for 179 yards, including TD tosses of 20 yards to Lance Moore and 8 yards to Jimmy Graham. The performance was reminiscent of the Saints offense that broke numerous NFL records a season ago, a good sign after a troubled offseason defined by the league’s bounty investigation and resulting season-long suspension of head coach Sean Payton.

“This night felt like so many nights that we had last year,” said Graham, who had three catches for 48 yards. “I can’t wait to play Washington (in the Sept. 9 regular-season opener).”

Texans rookie receiver Keshawn Martin scored his first pro touchdown, but then fumbled twice.

Houston’s Ben Tate and Arian Foster each had short touchdown runs.

Saints reserve defensive end Junior Galette scored in kickoff coverage when he picked up Trindon Holliday’s fumble and returning it 16 yards.

“There is obviously enough things there to keep us good and humble as we get ready to go play Miami (in the regular-season opener) in a couple of weeks,” Kubiak said.

Morgan dove for his go-ahead catch on a hard, low, 4-yard pass from Chase Daniel with 3:38 to go. It was an important play for Morgan, whose fumble on a hit by Danieal Manning deep in Saints territory set up Foster’s first-half touchdown run.

Morgan, an undrafted free agent in his second season out of Walsh University in Ohio, is hoping to earn a regular-season roster spot after spending last season on injured reserve.

The Saints opened the game without three of their top linebackers — Curtis Lofton, David Hawthorne and Chris Chamberlain — who were all hurt in last week’s preseason game against Jacksonville.

Already in the midst of adjusting to a new system under defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, the Saints’ defense seemed further disconcerted by lineup upheaval.

Houston gained three first downs on its first four snaps en route to an eight-play, 80-yard touchdown drive. Schaub’s 26-yard connection with tight end Garrett Graham put Houston at the 1, setting up Tate’s TD run through the left side of the line.

“The guys around me were making plays. The offensive line was playing their tails off,” Schaub said. “Everything was working well. We were seeing things clearly. Guys were making plays.”

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