The Los Angeles Chargers allowed the final 16 points, including Wil Lutz’s 28-yard field goal with one minute, five seconds to play, in a 19-17 loss to the New Orleans Saints Sunday in a preseason game at Dignity Health Sports Park.
“For three quarters, I thought it was pretty good complementary football,” Chargers coach Anthony Lynn said. “The fourth quarter, Taysom Hill took it over and they completely outplayed us in the fourth quarter.”
Hill — who is in his third season in the NFL and has as many regular-season receptions as he does completions, three, — completed 11 of 15 passes for two touchdowns and a game-high 136 yards and ran for a game-high 53 yards on five carries.
The Chargers were outgained, 324 yards to 304, including 248-109 in the second half, and trailed 19-16 in first downs. They led 31:34-28:26 in time of possession before a crowd announced at 23,207.
The Chargers (0-2) converted four of 14 third downs, 29%; the Saints, two of 10, 20%.
The Chargers scored all their points on three consecutive possessions in the second quarter. Cardale Jones threw a 24-yard touchdown pass to Andre Patton, Michael Badgley kicked a 32-yard field goal and Troymaine Pope returned a punt 81 yards for a touchdown three seconds before halftime.
Jones completed 10 of 14 passes for 111 yards in three series in what Lynn called “his best game as a Charger.” Jones has played in 10 preseason games with the Chargers, but no regular-season games since being acquired on July 26, 2017, from Buffalo in exchange for a conditional draft choice.
“I liked the way he handled offense going up and down the field for 98 yards,” Lynn said, referring to the 10-play drive culminating with Patton’s touchdown where Jones completed four of five passes for 49 yards and Justin Jackson ran for 22 yards on four carries.
“I think he is understanding that if you want to be good at this league and take your game to the next level, you definitely have to outwork and work as hard as anyone with no sympathy. Not saying that he wasn’t a hard worker, but the things that I see now, all the extra effort that he’s doing, I didn’t see before.”
Easton Stick, a fifth-round draft choice from North Dakota State who is competing with Jones to be the third-string quarterback behind Philip Rivers and Tyrod Taylor, completed five of 13 passes for 62 yards and an interception that ended the Chargers final drive.
“He had some penalties that put him behind the eight-ball,” Lynn said. “He started inside the 10 a couple of times and then he had a critical first down called back. So his drives really got stalled by penalties and he never really got going, but Easton’s doing well.”
With Rivers not playing for the second consecutive game, Taylor made his second consecutive start, completing seven of 10 passes for 57 yards with one interception on four series, where the Chargers picked up two first downs, punted twice and turned the ball over on downs once.
New Orleans (1-1) began its comeback with Hill’s 27-yard touchdown pass to Austin Carr with 3:10 left in the third quarter, completing a five-play, 60-yard drive.
The Saints drove to the Chargers 4-yard line on their next possession, but undrafted rookie Devine Ozigbo fumbled after being hit by Chargers linebacker Denzel Perryman, with undrafted rookie safety Adarius Pickett from UCLA recovering for the Chargers at their 9-yard line.
Hill concluded an 11-play, 69-yard drive on New Orleans’ next possession with a 1-yard touchdown pass to Ozigbo, cutting the deficit to 17-16 with 6:46 remaining. Anthony Lanier sacked Hill on the two-point conversion attempt, keeping the Chargers in the lead.
The Saints drove 50 yards on eight plays to set up Lutz’s winning field goal, with Hill completing both of his passes for 24 yards and running for six additional yards.
Jacquizz Rodgers ran for 20 yards on five carries on the drive.
The Chargers attempt to regain the lead ended after four plays on the ensuing drive when Stick’s pass was intercepted, two plays after his 31-yard pass to Artavis Scott advanced the ball to their 44-yard line.
With regular-season starting quarterback Drew Brees also getting the day off, Teddy Bridgewater made his second consecutive start at quarterback for New Orleans, despite coming “down with something about two days ago,” he said.
“I owe it to those guys to be out there,” said Bridgewater, who completed five of 12 passes for 40 yards with one interception in five series in what he said was “a poor game.” “We practice together. We give our all when we’re out there. I think I just have to do a better job fighting through difficult situations and things like that.”
Said Saints coach Sean Payton: “I probably should have got him out of the game earlier.”
With Bridgewater at quarterback, New Orleans punted twice, lost a fumble and got a 33-yard field goal from Lutz, three plays after linebacker A.J. Klein intercepted a pass by Taylor at the Chargers’ 38-yard line and returned the ball 20 yards.
“By no means is it a game you come away from and feel like you’re ready for the regular season,” Payton said. “We have a lot of work still to do. I thought we played pretty good defense early in the game. I thought offensively, we were awful.”
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