The Los Angeles Chargers fell to the New Orleans Saints 36-7 on Saturday night from ROKiT Field at StubHub Center.
In what is typically known as the dress rehearsal for the regular season, quarterback Philip Rivers isn't one who requires an extensive amount of "rehearsing" entering his 15th NFL season. Rivers played one quarter and led the Chargers inside New Orleans' five-yard line twice, including a touchdown drive. His final numbers: 5-of-7 for 29 yards.
Unlike Rivers, rookies require reps. Safety Derwin James took early advantage of his.
James picked off Saints quarterback Drew Brees on the third play from scrimmage, which gave Los Angeles the ball on its own 37. Then it was the Austin Ekeler show.
Ekeler, who started at running back in place of Melvin Gordon, touched the ball seven times for 54 total yards – including rushes of 21 and 12 yards – on a nine-play drive. The Chargers stalled, however, after failing to convert on a 4th-and-4 from the Saints' four-yard line.
After Los Angeles' defense forced a quick 3-and-out, the offense put together an eight-play, 42-yard drive capped off with a five-yard touchdown run by rookie running back Detrez Newsome. Kicker Caleb Sturgis added the extra point to make it 7-0 Los Angeles.
The Chargers' defense looked to have forced another 3-and-out, but New Orleans got tricky on fourth down. Quarterback Taysom Hill took a direct snap for five yards in punt formation to give the Saints a fresh set of downs.
Seven plays later, running back Alvin Kamara punched in a two-yard touchdown. Brees found wide receiver Michael Thomas for a successful two-point conversation to give the Saints an 8-7 edge.
New Orleans scored on its next two offensive possessions. A pair of Wil Lutz field goals extended the lead to 14-7 at halftime.
Look through some of the best action shots of the Bolts taking on the New Orleans Saints in their third preseason game.
The Saints pulled away in the second half. Hill scored on an 11-yard touchdown run and also rushed for the two-point conversion. He'd later add a passing touchdown. At the start of the fourth quarter, Saints cornerback Marcus Williams intercepted a Geno Smith pass and returned it 58 yards for a touchdown .
Cardale Jones played the entire second quarter at quarterback, finishing 1-of-3 for 13 yards. Smith started the second half and went 7-of-11 for 45 yards and an interception. Rookie quarterback Nic Shimonek closed the game.
Newsome had 12 carries for 34 yards. Ekeler finished with 63 total yards.
After dominating time of possession in their first two preseason games, the Chargers lost that battle to the Saints 33:08 to 26:52. Los Angeles committed just four penalties.
The Chargers close the preseason on the road next Thursday, Aug. 30 against the San Francisco 49ers. Kickoff is at 7 p.m. Pacific from Levi's Stadium.