INGLEWOOD, Calif. (AP) — One might think Dennis Allen would be relatively happy that his New Orleans Saints had two good days of work against the Los Angeles Chargers and then won Sunday’s preseason game 22-17.
Only the second-year coach sounded about as far from peachy as one could get.
The accomplishments of the past four days were diminished by extreme weather in Southern California. There was also tight end Jimmy Graham suffering a “medical episode” and being disoriented Friday night when he was taken into custody in the Los Angeles area.
Graham was evaluated by the team doctor, and released from a hospital on Saturday morning.
“There’s been a lot. I’m ready to try to get back home and get ready to go back to the dome next week,” Allen said.
The second preseason game for both teams went on as scheduled despite torrential rain from Tropical Storm Hilary that caused most sporting events scheduled for Sunday in Southern California to be canceled or rescheduled.
Less than 90 minutes before kickoff, an earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 5.1 hit near Ojai, about 85 miles (136.79 kilometers) north of Inglewood, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. It was felt at the Hollywood Park stadium.
Most of the starters did not play after receiving plenty of work during Thursday and Friday’s joint practices.
Jameis Winston directed three second-quarter scoring drives for New Orleans, and the defense forced three turnovers. But Allen was perturbed that the Saints committed 14 penalties for 141 yards.
“Look, we won the game and I’m pleased about that, but there’s a ton of (stuff) that needs to get cleaned up,” he said. “I thought it was a hell of a week just in terms of the productivity of what we were able to get accomplished in the joint practices and then be able to play the game, so that was all good.”
Chargers quarterback Easton Stick played the entire game and had a pair of rushing TDs. Stick’s 1-yard TD on a sneak got the Chargers within five points with 3:46 remaining.
After the Chargers (1-1) forced the Saints (2-0) into a three-and-out, Los Angeles drove to the New Orleans 28-yard line, but Lonnie Johnson picked off Stick at the Saints 1 on fourth-and-4 from the 28.
“I think that it was an uneven performance in the passing game for us. We didn’t protect the passer very well. I didn’t think that we threw it with accuracy,” Chargers coach Brandon Staley said. “Certainly, the three turnovers, that really told the story tonight.”
Stick, who is being counted on to serve as Justin Herbert’s backup, was 21 of 41 for 233 yards and two interceptions. He also had seven carries for 63 yards.
It was the first time Stick had played all four quarters in a game since he led North Dakota State over Eastern Washington in Football Championship Subdivision title game in January 2019.
“I appreciate Coach letting me go the full game. Just disappointed the way it ended,” Stick said. “I haven’t had a chance to play an extended period like that before. It will be big for me to go back and watch it and learn from it.”
New Orleans got its lone touchdown early in the second quarter on Kendre Miller’s 7-yard run off left guard. The Saints started the drive on the Chargers 33 after first-round pick Bryan Bresee recovered Stick’s fumble. Stick turned it over while being sacked by defensive end Payton Turner.
The rest of the points came on five field goals, three by Will Lutz and two by Blake Grupe.
“As we go out there and look at this film, I’m pretty sure we gonna find something that we can execute better on, but we are getting better every single day and I’m happy we got this win,” said Winston, who completed 13 of 21 passes for 169 yards.
After Stick’s 6-yard TD run tied it at 10 with 33 seconds remaining in the first half, Winston directed a four-play, 49-yard drive that was capped by Grupe’s 37-yard field goal.
The key play on the drive was Winston’s completion down the middle of the field to Shaq Davis for 42 yards to the Chargers 19. Los Angeles cornerback Ja’Sir Taylor was in front of Davis but appeared to lose track of the ball.
Graham watched the game from the locker room.
According to the Saints, team doctor John Amoss determined Graham “likely” was suffering the effects of a seizure when he was apprehended on Friday night.
“Jimmy is with us. He’s healthy. He’ll have some more testing to go on. But, look, he’s a little shook up but yet overall he’s doing OK,” Allen said.
Saints: Host the Houston Texans next Sunday in the preseason finale.
Chargers: Close the preseason at the San Francisco 49ers on Friday.