NEW ORLEANS -- The hometown fans booed quarterback Aaron Brooks in the pregame introductions. They were cheering him by the time the game was over.
"We were patient," Brooks said. "Things did not go well in the first half, but we didn't let it get us out of our game plan."
The Saints (1-1) led the NFC in scoring last season with 432 points and 49 touchdowns. But in the final two games of last season and the first one this year, New Orleans scored only 29 points.
At first, the Texans (1-1) looked as if they might hold the Saints to another poor showing. Houston's strategy was apparent: Take Saints running back Deuce McAllister out of the game. It worked last week when the Texans held Ricky Williams to 69 yards rushing in an upset of Miami.
"I'd try to take him out of the game also," Saints coach Jim Haslett said. "In the second half, he broke some tackles and got into the secondary. He's a hard guy to tackle once he's in the secondary."
On his first four carries, McAllister gained just 3 yards. On his fifth one, he found the hole he needed and ran for a 24-yard touchdown to put the Saints up 7-0.
At halftime, McAllister had just 28 yards on eight carries and New Orleans was trailing 10-7. But McAllister finished with 96 yards on 20 carries.
"Probably in the third and fourth quarters people get tired of tackling a guy my size," said McAllister, who is 6-foot-1, 221.
Last season, McAllister averaged just under 72 yards rushing in the Saints' losses, compared to just over 106 in their nine wins.
The Texans got their first touchdown despite two replay challenges by New Orleans. On fourth-and-1 on the 2-yard line, a play-action fake left quarterback David Carr with just one player between him and the end zone, and he dived in for the touchdown.
Houston, which has never won back-to-back games, took a 10-7 lead on a Kris Brown's 30-yard field goal.
In the third quarter, the Saints used some trickery on their second touchdown drive. Brooks walked away from the line, stamped his foot and clenched both fists in what looked like a broken play. The snap went directly to McAllister, who picked up a first down of a 5-yard run.
Three plays later, Brooks hit Donte' Stallworth for a 35-yard touchdown to give New Orleans a 14-10 lead.
New Orleans added a 39-yard field goal by John Carney with 22 seconds left in the third quarter.
McAllister got his second big run of the game on a 31-yarder that was a big part of the Saints' 72-yard touchdown drive to make it 24-10. Brooks capped it with a 2-yard pass to Ernie Conwell.
Brooks completed 18 of 27 passes for 189 yards. He was sacked once.
Carr, who had his first NFL game without a sack last week, had a miserable day against New Orleans. He was 17-of-36 for 213 yards and had two interceptions. He was sacked five times, pressured constantly and hit at least 10 times.
"That was the most physical game I've played since I've been here," Carr said.
The Saints' final touchdown came when Ashley Ambrose hit Houston receiver Billy Miller, jarring the ball loose and into linebacker Derrick Rodgers' hands. Rodgers ran 40 yards to score, making it 31-10.
- Sunday's game was New Orleans' 50th under Jim Haslett, who now has a 27-23 record since becoming the Saints' head coach in 2000.
- The last time a team from Houston played a regular-season game in the Superdome was Nov. 14, 1996, when the Houston Oilers beat the Saints 31-14.
- LB Sedrick Hodge fractured his right knee
- CB Dale Carter has a concussion
- DT Seth Payne sprained his right knee
The Associated Press News Service
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