NEW ORLEANS — For the first time in franchise history, the New Orleans Saints have scored at least 30 points in three consecutive games to open the regular season.
The latest came Sunday when the Saints (2-1) rallied for a 40-33 victory against the Houston Texans (2-1) before a sellout crowd of 73,002 at the Superdome.
The Saints twice opened the regular season with outputs of at least 30 points: 1993 and 2009, each time starting 2-0.
The Saints had two changes in their defensive lineup Sunday. Middle linebacker Jonathan Vilma, who injured his left knee in last week’s win over the Chicago Bears, was held out of the game after being sidelined for practice all week.
Jo-Lonn Dunbar, who started last week at the strong side, moved into Vilma’s spot. Rookie Martez Wilson, one of the team’s two third-round draft picks this spring, made his first NFL start at strongside linebacker.
Also, Will Smith, who returned after serving a two-game NFL suspension for using a banned diuretic in 2008, started at his customary right defensive end spot in place of Turk McBride.
In addition to Vilma, the Saints inactives were kicker Garrett Hartley (hip), wide receiver Marques Colston (shoulder), cornerback Tracy Porter (calf), defensive end Jeff Charleston, defensive tackle Tom Johnson and center/guard Matt Tennant.
Texans running back Arian Foster, who has a hamstring injury that he aggravated a week ago, headed up their list of inactives.
Their other inactives were running back Derrick Ward (shoulder/ankle), cornerback Sherrick McManis, wide receiver David Anderson, guard Thomas Austin, tackle Andrew Gardner and quarterback T.J. Yates.
Saints kicker John Kasay made his only field-goal attempt Sunday, a 35-yarder with 35 seconds remaining in the first half, and is now 5-for-5 this season. The Saints have converted their past 19 attempts dating to the end of the 2010 season and counting the playoff game at Seattle.
Saints center Olin Kreutz came out of the game in the first quarter and was replaced by Brian De la Puente for the remainder of the game. … Right tackle Zach Strief was helped off the field after injuring his right knee early in the third quarters. He was replaced by second-year offensive tackle Charles Brown, the only remaining offensive lineman on the Saints’ game-day roster. … Wilson left the game at the end of the first quarter.
Saints coach Sean Payton declined to address the nature of any of the injuries during his post-game news conference, saying he would provide updates when the team returns to practice Wednesday in preparation for the Jaguars at Jacksonville on Oct. 2.
By the numbers
168: Consecutive passes thrown without an interception by Saints quarterback Drew Brees dating to Game 16 last season against Tampa Bay. Texans safety Jonathan Joseph picked off a Brees pass intended for Devery Henderson in the second quarter, the first of two interceptions thrown by Brees.
30: Consecutive regular-season games with a touchdown pass by Brees, tying him for third all-time in the NFL with Dan Marino and trailing only Johnny Unitas (47) and Brett Favre (36).
Saints cornerback Jabari Greer had an interception in the fourth quarter, the team’s first pick in six regular-season games dating to Dec. 12, 2010, against the St. Louis Rams.
Brian Allee-Walsh and Sheldon Mickles contributed to this report.