CARSON, Calif. (AP) – Alvin Kamara ran for a 2-yard touchdown, and the New Orleans Saints capped a productive week in Southern California with a 36-7 preseason win over the Los Angeles Chargers on Saturday night.
Saints quarterback Drew Brees was 7 of 9 for 59 yards with an interception in three series, while Philip Rivers was 5 of 7 for 29 yards in a brief tuneup appearance for the Chargers.
This was the second consecutive year the Chargers hosted the Saints in a preseason game at StubHub Center following joint practices between the teams in Orange County. While the workouts came later in training camp than usual, the Saints built off two productive days with a strong performance in the traditional dress rehearsal for the regular season.
Chargers first-round draft pick Derwin James intercepted a pass from Brees on the first possession of the game. James, the safety from Florida State, picked off a third-down throw into double coverage with Desmond King defending Ted Ginn Jr.
The Chargers drove to the Saints 4 on the ensuing drive but elected not to attempt a short field goal, and Rivers’ fourth-down pass was too high for Mike Williams.
Austin Ekeler finished with 50 yards rushing on six carries and added three receptions for 13 yards. With starting running back Melvin Gordon not with the team because of a family matter, Ekeler ripped off runs of 21 and 12 yards to his first two carries to get the Chargers moving.
Los Angeles fared better on its second possession, with rookie Detrez Newsome scoring on a 5-yard run off left tackle. That marked the end of game action for Rivers, replaced by Cardale Jones early in the second quarter.
New Orleans did not get its initial first-down until late in the first quarter when third-string quarterback and special teams contributor Taysom Hill moved the chains by running a direct snap on a fake punt around the left side. That helped set up Kamara’s short touchdown plunge seven plays later. The Saints took an 8-7 lead on a 2-point pass from Brees to Michael Thomas, the last throw Brees would make before giving way to Tom Savage.
Wil Lutz kicked field goals of 25 and 35 yards in the final two minutes of the first half, and Hill scrambled for a 11-yard touchdown run and a 2-point conversion on a keeper late in the third quarter. Cornerback Marcus Williams added a 59-yard interception return for a touchdown, which came seven plays after a pass interference penalty against Williams negated a ricochet TD return by linebacker Craig Robertson.
Hill threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to Tre’Quan Smith to cap the scoring.
There were no apparent protests during the national anthem.
Saints: DE Trey Hendrickson was able to return after hobbling to the sideline early in the first quarter. A second-year player from Florida Atlantic, Hendrickson has been a pleasant surprise in training camp as the Saints look to bolster their pass rush.
Chargers: DE Joey Bosa (foot) did not play, but went through a series of agility drills prior to the game. Bosa has not practiced since sustaining the injury to his left foot on Aug. 7. … CB Casey Hayward (hamstring), CB Trevor Williams (ankle), and WR Tyrell Williams (foot) also sat out.
Saints: Finish the preseason at home against the Los Angeles Rams on Thursday.
Chargers: Finish the preseason at the San Francisco 49ers on Thursday.