Being a starting quarterback in the NFL is supposed to be hard — but it appears nobody told Pocatello’s Taysom Hill, who helped the New Orleans Saints beat the Atlanta Falcons 21-16 on Sunday to run his record to 3-0 as a starter in the NFL.
“At the end of the day, I’m happy that we’ve gotten three wins,” Hill said postgame, per the Saints. “That’s the statistic that I care most about. As far as my overall development and the process, I feel like I’m becoming more and more comfortable in operating the offense and I feel like there are so many ways I can continue to get better, which is encouraging when we’re moving the ball, we’re playing football games.”
The Highland grad threw his first two NFL touchdown passes in the win, completing a 15-yard score to Tre’Quan Smith in the first quarter and an 11-yarder to Jared Cook in the second.
The throw to Smith was Hill’s first touchdown pass since 2016, his senior year at BYU.
“I know there have been a lot of conversations about getting your first touchdown completion, but as long as we’re winning football games, I’m happy,” Hill said. “So, I was certainly happy about it because I knew it was going to help us win. I was happy for Tre’Quan he ran a great route.”
Hill finished 27 of 37 passing for 232 yards, two touchdowns and no incompletions. He also ran 15 times for 83 yards — both marks second on the team behind Alvin Kamara.
A career-long 43-yard scramble in the first quarter set up the touchdown pass to Smith. The 83 total rushing yards were also a career-high, and Hill’s 232 passing yards were one off his career-high of 233, set two weeks ago in his first start, also against the Falcons.
The Saints were 8 of 17 on third down, and 2 of 3 on fourth.
“I think his third downs all game were strong,” Saints head coach Sean Payton said about Hill after the game. “I thought his performance was strong. He made a lot of throws.”
The low point of the game for Hill was three fumbles, one of which was recovered by the Falcons. That play, which came on second-and-goal from the Falcons’ 5-yard line early in the fourth quarter, kickstarted Atlanta’s comeback.
“I have to put two hands on the ball in that situation,” Hill said. “Guy came over, made a good play and topped down, ball out. I’m disappointed about that and (it’s) certainly something I need to fix.”
The Falcons had a chance to go ahead late, but the Saints’ defense stopped them on fourth down.
With three wins in three games since Hill took over for injured starter Drew Brees, the Saints are now 10-2, the best record in the NFC. Along with the 11-1 Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC, they’re one of only two teams in the NFL to have already clinched a playoff berth.
Blackfoot and Idaho State alum Josh Hill played 42 snaps in the game for the Saints, his most since Week 9, but wasn’t targeted at his tight end position.