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Chargers-Saints Recap: Easton Stick, Bolts offense struggle against Saints in 22-17 loss

Quarterback Stick played the entire game for the Chargers but couldn’t overcome two interceptions en route to a 22-17 loss to the Saints.

NFL: Preseason-New Orleans Saints at Los Angeles Chargers Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

The Chargers offense looked a lot less comfortable on Sunday night as they went up against a stingy New Orleans Saints defense that possessed a lot more NFL experience when you compared respective resumes.

Backup quarterback Easton Stick completed 21-of-41 passes with no touchdowns and two interceptions. The offensive line could not grant him consistent time in the pocket as the offense began the game with a trio of three-and-outs.

Defensively, young Chargers such as Daiyan Henley and Tuli Tuipulotu showed out to keep the Saints out of the end zone for most of the night.

New Orleans converted all five of their field goals with Will Lutz hitting three while rookie Blake Grupe added two.

Former number one-overall pick Jameis Winston completed 13-of-21 passes for 169 yards while rookie Jake Haener finished 11-of-17 for 118. Wideout Shaquan Davis led all players with 63 receiving yards on three catches.

For a complete recap of the Sunday night’s game, check it all out below!

First Quarter

The Chargers began the game with a three-and-out on offense with Joshua Kelley being brought down a yard short of moving the chains after a short catch on third down.

The Saints were able to move the chains once on their first drive, but a holding penalty from former Charger tackle Storm Norton brought up a second-and-17 that couldn’t be overcome.

After the Saints forced another three-and-out by the Chargers, the Bolts’ defense recorded one of their own which was capped off by a Chris Hinton sack on third down.

Rookie edge rusher Tuli Tuipulotu helped shut down the Saints’ third offensive drive of the game with a great two-play sequence with a tackle for loss on second down and a forced incompletion on third.

The Chargers got their first third-down conversion of the first quarter with a 14-yard completion from Easton Stick to Keelan Doss. On the very next play, Stick hit first-rounder Quentin Johnston on a dig route to move the chains once more.

Second Quarter

The Saints defense got after the Bolts on the other side of the break as they stripped Stick on third down before recovering well within Chargers territory. On the second play of their ensuing drive, Winston hit rookie running back Kendre Miller up the left sideline for a big gain. Miller gashed the Chargers up the middle on the next play for a touchdown to put the Saints up 7-0.

Johnston helped lead the Chargers on their longest drive of the game by catching another pass and drawing a holding penalty. Keelan Doss also forced a defensive hold by the Saints that moved the Chargers 31 yards down the field and into the end zone. On first down inside the 20-yard line, Stick rolled to his right and threw a great pass to Donald Parham in the flat. Parham would have walked in for the touchdown but the ball bounced off both hands for an incompletion. The Chargers couldn’t punch it in on the next two plays which forced a kick from Cameron Dicker, which was good, to bring the score to 7-3.

The offense was shut down once again, this time with Zion Johnson and Jamaree Salyer replaced by Jordan McFadden and Zack Bailey. A holding penalty by Foster Sarell derailed the drive from the start and Stick couldn’t bring them out of the hole.

After a strong defensive effort to force a another quick punt by the Saints, Stick missed rolled out to his left, missed two open receivers, and threw a really bad interception straight into the arms of cornerback Isaac Yiadom. The Chargers managed to keep them out of the end zone but the Saints converted a field goal to return their lead to seven.

Stick finally found the groove he was looking for all day on the Charger’s final drive of the first half. It took just six plays for the Chargers to find the end zone as Stick completed a pair of passes for 29 yards, scrambled for 21 on another play, before finding pay dirt on a read option from six yards out.

The Chargers almost ended the half on a high note but Ja’Sir Taylor let up a 42-yard completion with 19 seconds remaining in the half. The Saints kicked a field goal two plays later to retake the lead 13-10 as time ticked off.

Third Quarter

Rookie Jake Haener started the second half for the Saints and he immediately provided a surge of momentum for New Orleans as his first pass was a 53-yard completion. The Saints ran nine plays inside the Chargers’ 20-yard line but penalties continued to hold them back from punching it into the end zone. The third-string defense held strong with big plays from recently-signed cornerback Matt Hankins and edge rusher Andrew Farmer. Another field goal for New Orleans pushed their lead to 16-10.

Stick remained in the game to begin the second half. He hooked up with Stone Smartt several times and a strong first run for Elijah Dotson on the night helped push the offense to the Saints’ side of the 50. They stalled from there, failing to convert a fourth-and-six which led to the first turnover-on-downs of the game.

Both teams traded punts with little to highlight before the clock ran out in the quarter.

Fourth Quarter

The first play of the fourth quarter was a screen pass by the Saints but rookie sixth-rounder Scott Matlock did an excellent job of sniffing it out and tackling the ball-carrier for little to no gain.

Stick continued to run the offense into the fourth quarter but any tangible momentum was still absent. On a third-and-one, Stick changed the play to an inside run but it was stuffed for a loss of two. On the fourth-down attempt, Stick was sacked for a huge loss after refusing to throw it away. That series of events turned into another Saints field goal. With 7:38 remaining in regulation, the Saints held a 22-10 lead.

The Chargers got the ball for one final drive with a little over two minutes remaining, but the offense sputtered in one of the more frustrating sequences of the game that involved Stick being sacked on second and third down. There was one last injection of home with a massive 39-yard catch by Terrell Bynum in triple coverage, but the offense went right back to sputtering as Dotson dropped two passes in a three-play sequence before Stick through another interception to seal the loss.