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(Sunday, September 25th)
Final Score: New Orleans 40, Houston 33
New Orleans, LA (Sports Network) - Mark Ingram's first career touchdown proved to be the game-winner, as the Saints defeated the Texans, 40-33, in a wild finish at the Louisiana Superdome.
Ingram, the Saints' first-round draft pick out of Alabama, reeled off a 13- yard touchdown run in the waning minutes of the fourth quarter to give his team a lead it would not relinquish.
On the previous drive, Kevin Walter caught a deflected pass from Matt Schaub and escaped for a 20-yard touchdown to put the Texans (2-1) on top 33-32.
Schaub completed 22-of-39 passes for 373 yards and three touchdowns against an interception for Houston, which was denied its first-ever 3-0 start.
Drew Brees threw for 370 yards and three touchdowns against two interceptions for the Saints (2-1).
Brees was intercepted by Danieal Manning in the closing minutes of the third quarter and Schaub capitalized, finding James Casey on 3rd-and-6 along the sideline for a diving, 26-yard touchdown strike to give the Texans a 26-17 lead.
On their next possession, the Texans went three-and-out from their own 15- yard-line and Brett Hartmann's lackluster punt gave the Saints the ball at midfield.
This time Brees capitalized on third down, hitting Jimmy Graham in single coverage along the sideline for a 27-yard score to make it a 26-24 game.
Schaub was intercepted by Jabari Greer on Houston's next drive and New Orleans again took over at midfield. Then, on 3rd-and-6, Brees hit Lance Moore for a 16-yard touchdown. The pair connected again on the two-point conversion attempt for a 32-26 Saints lead.
Houston responded with Walter's improbable touchdown reception to go on top with a little over four minutes remaining. Schaub attempted a short pass to a blanketed Joel Dreessen. Saints linebacker Jonathan Casillas reached in and deflected the ball, but Walter made the catch inches from the ground and sprinted into the endzone.
Ingram, a former Heisman Trophy winner, capped an eight-play, 93-yard touchdown drive with a 13-yard touchdown scamper between the tackles to give the Saints the win.
"The line did a great job blocking, pushed their men past the hole," said Ingram. "I just made a good read, cut back and tried to get it."
Schaub's 4th-and-21 heave on the ensuing possession fell incomplete to seal the Texans' fate.
Houston was once-again denied its first-ever 3-0 start. The team got off to the same 2-1 start last season before dropping nine of its final 13 games.
Still, the Texans appeared headed for history early, scoring on their opening drive on Owen Daniels' 14-yard touchdown catch, before Neil Rackers made it a 10-0 game with a 22-yard field goal.
The defense, under new coordinator Wade Phillips, held the Saints off the board until Darren Sproles' 30-yard touchdown run early in the second quarter.
The Texans drove inside the Saints 10-yard line on each of their next two possessions, but had to settle for Rackers' field goals.
"We're definitely going to look at our red zone performance because it wasn't good enough," said Schaub.
John Kasay hit a 35-yard field goal for the Saints towards the end of the quarter and Houston held a 16-10 edge at the half.
On the opening drive of the third quarter, New Orleans marched 73 yards down the field and Brees connected with Robert Meachem for a short touchdown pass and a 17-16 lead.
Rackers hit a 36-yarder on the ensuing possession to reestablish the Texans' advantage.
The Saints have won five of their last six home games. They lead the all-time series over the Texans, 2-1...Ingram carried the ball nine times for 38 yards...Texans running back Ben Tate ran for 82 yards on 19 carries. He had recorded consecutive 100-yard rushing games to open the season in place of the injured Arian Foster...Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson had 12 catches for 128 yards.
09/25 20:57:02 ET