Taysom Hill made his highly anticipated first career start Sunday, which netted a familiar result for the New Orleans Saints — another win. Hill certainly wasn’t Drew Brees in New Orleans’ 24-9 victory over the Atlanta Falcons, but he was efficient.
Hill finished 18 of 23 for 233 yards and recorded a 108.9 passer rating, with no touchdown passes and no interceptions. Hill is just the seventh quarterback in the NFL since 1950 to have competed over 78% of his passes in his first career start (minimum 20 attempts). Of those seven quarterbacks in that category, he joins Stan Humphries as the only quarterback to average over 10 yards per pass attempt (Hill averaged 10.1 yards per attempt Sunday).
Hill also rushed for 51 yards and two touchdowns (and a lost fumble), leading the Saints in both categories. He joined Daunte Culpepper as the only players in the Super Bowl era with at least 40 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns in their first start at quarterback (Culpepper accomplished the feat in Week 1 of the 2000 season).
“I thought that he played well,” said Saints head coach Sean Payton, evaluating Hill’s performance. “He had the one turnover late in the game. … We had a big touchdown pass called back. It’s a good team win.
“I think that he called one formation (and) flipped around the wrong way. There was one motion. All of that kind of calmed down and he got very comfortable with the flow of the game. We did a good job up front, I thought, blocking him.”
The Saints were just 4 of 11 (36.7%) on third down, but scored on 3 of 4 red zone trips and averaged 6.1 yards per play. Their season average on third down was 47.9% and scoring touchdowns on red zone attempts was 65% heading into Week 11. The Falcons also have a bottom five defense in yards allowed, which the Saints took advantage of to the tune of 378 yards.
Hill played well enough to win and deserves another start as a result.
“He played tremendous. I can tell, all throughout the week, his preparation, I can see the look in his eyes. He was ready for the moment every day,” said Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas, who finished with nine catches for 104 yards. “He found a way to win today. And he just progressed today and everyone saw it. And I’m very proud of him.
“I’m kind of at a loss for words because I know he’s been waiting for that moment and he finally got it. And he showed what he could do and we still have a lot of room for improvement. That’s the exciting thing.”