If you said Aug. 23, 2014, you would be a winner. Since that 23-17 win over the Indianapolis Colts, New Orleans has gone 0-10 in the preseason since its last victory.
In the first quarter, New Orleans looked solid on defense as they held the Browns without a first down and three punts in the first quarter. The Saints defense made a goal line stand on one of the best drives for Cleveland in the first half.
New Orleans started Chase Daniels at quarterback, as Drew Brees didn’t play that night, and Daniels led the Saints to a field goal on their second possession of the game. That gave New Orleans a 3-0 lead when he exited the game as Garrett Grayson took over under center.
The Browns defense forced Grayson to fumble as he scrambled on a passing play. Cleveland recovered and used the short field to score a touchdown, going up to 7-3 with a little more than five minutes before halftime.
New Orleans rallied as Grayson led the team to a field goal, cutting the Browns’ lead to 7-6 at the break. One of the biggest first-half highlights was rookie running back Alvin Kamara’s play.
The former University of Tennessee star led the team in rushing with four carries for 35 yards in limited action. Kamara ended up with early rushing attempts, as Mark Ingram and Adrian Peterson had the night off.
New Orleans turned to Ryan Nassib at quarterback in the third quarter. He led the Saints to their only touchdown of the night late in the third quarter.
Nassib found Tommylee Lewis for a two-yard touchdown pass. New Orleans converted a two-point attempt, taking a 14-7 lead late in the third quarter.
In the fourth quarter, the Saints defense looked every bit of its 2016 version, as rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer hit deep pass after deep pass. Kizer led the Browns down the field off a 52-yard completion that led to a score one play later.
Cleveland went for a two-point try but failed as New Orleans held on to the lead at 14-13. The Saints defense couldn’t hold up as Kizer hit another deep pass for a 45-yard touchdown that put the Browns back on top 20-14.
Nassib took the Saints to the Browns’ 21-yard line before he was sacked and fumbled on a fourth-down play. Cleveland took a knee to end the game for the 20-14 win.
New Orleans defense looked bad late but overall played well. The unit made four tackles for a loss, four sacks and seven quarterback hits.
Most of the players on the field during the fourth quarter collapse won’t be on the field during the regular season. Only the long drive that ended on a goal line stand and the fumble that led to the Browns first touchdown off a short field, the Saints’ defense gave up little in the first half.
The Saints could have a weapon in the slot for mismatches, as running back Tommylee Lewis finished with 10 receptions for 124 yards and a touchdown. There was very little the Browns could do to cover Lewis, who made a circus catch for 32 yards that set up at the Cleveland goal line, but New Orleans failed to score as they turned the ball over on downs.
New Orleans will look to break its 10-game preseason losing streak Sunday, Aug. 20, on the road against the Los Angeles Chargers.