The Los Angeles Chargers started the game on defense and rookie first-round pick Derwin James was running with the 1s for the first time this preseason. The New Orleans Saints offense was unable to get anything going on their first two plays and on 3rd down, Drew Brees took a shot downfield. James made him pay by hauling in his first interception of the preseason.
Austin Ekeler got the first carry of the game for the Chargers and behind some solid blocking he picked up 21 yards and a 1st down. Two plays later, he got another carry and rushed for 12 more yards. The offense eventually stalled out in the red zone and they turned the ball over on downs when Rivers couldn’t hit Mike Williams in the back of the end zone on 4th down from the 4-yard line. Ekeler touched the ball 7 times for 54 yards on the 9-play drive.
Mark Ingram rushed twice for a total of 5 yards on the next drive and Brees came up empty on 3rd down to force a punt. The defense continued to look good even without their starting corners.
Ekeler was still in at running back on the next drive. He rushed for 5 and defensive holding made it a 1st down. He rushed for 4 on the next play. On 3rd down, Derek Watt took a short pass for 11 yards and a new set of downs. Detrez Newsome then came in to spell Ekeler. Three rushes later he was in the end zone after a 5-yard touchdown run.
The defense forced another three-and-out, but the special teams fell asleep and the Saints picked up the 1st on a fake punt. From there, the defense was out of sorts and Drew Brees marched the offense down the field for a score. They attempted and converted a 2-point conversion to Michael Thomas.
Cardale Jones then came in for Rivers as the veteran signal-caller was shut down for the night. His first pass was a good one, but two hand offs and a sack later, the Chargers had to punt.
Tom Savage replaced Brees at quarterback and engineered a 14-play drive that ended in a field goal by Wil Lutz.
Jones returned to the field and missed two receivers en route to a three-and-out.
Savage then quickly found Tommylee Lewis for a big gain against Jeff Richards. From there, the offense was unable to move the ball, but they were already in range for Lutz who converted a field goal to end the half.
After half time, Geno Smith took over for Cardale Jones, and immediately hit Andre Patton for a 14-yard gain a fresh set of downs. Newsome was stopped for no gain on the next play, and Sean Culkin (a tight end) caught a pass on 2nd down. 3rd down fell incomplete and the Chargers had to punt again.
The Saints’ first drive of the half went three-and-out largely thanks to Jatavis Brown who was in on both of the first two tackles.
The Geno Smith-led offense managed one 1st down before eventually being forced to punt.
Taysom Hill then took over at quarterback for Savage. A rush and a reception by Boston Scott moved the chains for New Orleans. Uchenna Nwosu then collected a sack. Adrian Phillips stopped Shane Vereen for a short gain, but then on 3rd down, the defense was unable to prevent the Saints from picking up a 1st through the air. An offensive holding penalty put the Saints in a hole, but a defensive pass interference on the next play gave it back. A few plays later, Hill scrambled for a touchdown and the Saints went for 2 yet again. Hill took it in for 2 himself.
A Geno Smith pick-six was nullified by defensive pass interference near the beginning of the next drive. A reception by Patton and a nice 7-yard run by Newsome picked up a 1st. Newsome followed that run with a 7-yard reception. We then were treated to a Russell Hansbrough sighting as he moved the chains with a 5-yard run that ended the 3rd quarter. The 4th quarter got off to a bad start with Geno taking a sack and then throwing another pick-six. Unfortunately for the Chargers, that one would not be nullified.
Following the kickoff, Smith was back on the field. He hit Artavis Scott for a short gain. Newsome followed that with a short gain of his own. And on 3rd down, Smith threw short of the sticks and we got to see the punting team again.
The Saints opened up with a 7-yard run and a run for no-gain. On 3rd & 3, they ripped off a 23-yard play, but it was brought back due to a hold. A 4-yard run was then also undone by another hold. They immediately picked up the 1st on the next play anyway. Scott picked up 8 on 1st down, but the defense held his next run to only 1 yard. On 3rd & 1, Nwosu blew up the runner in the backfield. After a time out, the Saints lined up to go for it and Taysom Hill converted it. Four plays later, Hill found Smith in the end zone for another score. Another 2-point conversion was attempted, but this one failed.
Nic Shimonek replaced Smith at quarterback and his first play was a handoff to Newsome who went for 6 yards. He picked up another 2 on 2nd down, and on 3rd defensive pass interference moved the sticks. Terrell Watson got his first carry on the next play picking up 8 yards. Shimonek converted a 3rd & 4 by hitting Nelson Spruce for 7 yards. Watson was stopped for no gain and that brought us to the 2-minute warning. After the warning, Shimonek took a sack. On 3rd down, he hit J.J. Jones deep, but Jones’ stone hands could not haul the pass in. On 4th down, he took another sack.
From there, the Saints ran out the clock by taking a knee.