Dominant Rushing Attack Helps New Orleans Saints Dispatch Texans, 38-14

Paul Augustin, Jr.Senior Analyst IAugust 23, 2009

HOUSTON - AUGUST 22:  Running back Mike Bell #21 of the New Orleans Saints runs past cornerback Brice McCain #41 of the Houston Texans on August 22, 2009 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

It appears as if the Saints have found their third running back.

Mike Bell carried the ball 10 times for 100 yards, including a 46-yard touchdown run in the Saints 38-14 win over the Houston Texans.

Each of Bell's ten carries went for positive yardage.

New Orleans piled up 173 yards on the ground.

Drew Brees also looked sharp after missing most of the week to attend a memorial service for his mother.

Brees was perfect on the first drive that ended with a touchdown pass to Pierre Thomas.

Joey Harrington and Mark Brunnel combined to drive the offense 13 plays and 99 yards for a touchdown early in the fourth quarter. The drive culminated in Herb Donaldson's 14-yard touchdown run.

Harrington left the game early in the drive due to a mild concussion he suffered after scrambling for 10 yards.

This game turned from shootout to blowout thanks in part to the defense's ability to adjust to the Texans and force turnovers.

After allowing 73 yards and a touchdown on the opening drive, the first unit clamped down on Houston and allowed only 50 yards of offense the rest of the first half.

Texans quarterback Matt Shaub looked sharp early on as he delivered the ball quickly and accurately in the first quarter.

Pro bowl receiver Andre Johnson had four first half catches but was held to just 38 yards.

Cornerbacks Jabari Greer and Tracy Porter and safety Darren Sharper each had tight coverage on Johnson.

Greer made an interception and returned it 23 yards, Porter ripped the ball out of Johnson's hands after one reception to cause a fumble, and Sharper batted a pass away from Johnson 15 yards down field.

The Saints held the Texans to less than three yards per carry.

The Saints biggest problems came on special teams.

New Orleans was flagged for consecutive illegal procedure penalties while attempting a field goal.

Kicker Garrett Hartley, who has come under scrutiny as of late, missed a 30-yard field goal attempt. He will likely miss the first four games of the season due to testing positive for a banned stimulant.

Hartley also missed a short field goal attempt last week against the Bengals.

The one bright spot on the special teams unit was wide receiver Rod Harper.

Harper, who is trying to beat out Skyler Green and Courtney Roby as the sixth receiver and punt returner, dazzled the Saints fans in attendance with a 79-yard punt return for a touchdown.

The Saints next preseason game is Saturday, August 29 at Oakland against the Raiders.

This will be the last preseason game before NFL teams have to trim their rosters from 80 players to 75.