By Tim Peterson
(Carson) – New Orleans scored on its first two possessions and made it stand up the rest of the way in a 13-7 win over the Chargers Sunday night before 21,197 at StubHub Center.
Neither starting quarterbacks played as Philip Rivers gave way to Kellen Clemens for the Chargers and Chase Daniel started for the Saints.
“Philip (Rivers) practiced against that team a couple of times in pads and against their ones and he had two good practices and I didn’t feel like he needed to play today,” said Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn.
The Chargers were also missing two key offensive linemen including left tackle Russell Okung but Lynn didn’t see that as a factor in Rivers sitting out. “Even if those guys would have played I would have had Philip out. He went against those guys all week and we got some work in against them. I needed to get a look at Kellen (Clemens) and Cardale (Jones,” Lynn said.
With Clemens starting the Chargers went three and out on their first series. Daniel started for New Orleans and on the first play from scrimmage he handed the ball to Alvin Kamara, who broke a tackle at the line of scrimmage and ran 50 yards for a touchdown.
On the Saints second possession Will Lutz finished off a 44 yard, 8-play drive with a 53-yard field goal for a 10-0 New Orleans lead.
The Chargers had difficulty moving the ball on the Saints defense with Clemens behind center. Former Notre Dame/ Chargers linebacker Manti Te’o made an impact with a couple of tackles and a big sack of Clemens in the second quarter.
New Orleans took the ten point lead into the break.
Cardale Jones opened the third quarter at quarterback for the Chargers and LA went three and out on the first series. Ryan Nassib started the third for New Orleans and the Saints did the same.
The Chargers moved the ball down into New Orleans territory in the third quarter but Jamaal Jones fumbled at the 11-yard line after a reception and the Saints recovered to stop the threat.
The Saints were ready to go up 17-0 as they drove deep into Charger territory but Dexter McCoil intercepted Nassib and turned it into a pick six going 98 yards for a touchdown with 8:52 left in the fourth quarter and suddenly it was a three point game.
On the following possession, the Saints drove 67 yards in 15 plays. Lutz booted a 26-yard field goal for a 13-7 advantage.
The Chargers got the ball back with a final opportunity but Jones’ pass on fourth down was picked off with less than a minute left and New Orleans ran out the clock.
“It was a preseason game but that couldn’t have gotten any uglier in my opinion. I thought our defense played well other than the first play of the game which could have made a difference,” Lynn said. “Offensively we were flat for some reason. We got to run the football a lot better than that. And we had seven sacks. That killed us.”
Now 0-2 in the exhibition season, next up for the Chargers is a date with the Rams next Saturday night at the Coliseum.