Taysom Hill has been a do-it-all utility player since entering the NFL six years ago, but he took that to a whole new level on Sunday for the New Orleans Saints.
Hill, the former BYU dual-threat quarterback, scored three rushing touchdowns and threw a touchdown pass in the Saints’ 39-32 victory over the Seattle Seahawks.
He rushed for a team-high 112 yards on nine carries, with a 12.4 per-carry average.
Oh, and Hill, who transitioned over to tight end from QB this year, contributed on special teams, too: He returned three kickoffs for 69 yards and recovered a fumble.
“I think statistically it’s probably my best game I’ve ever had in the NFL,” Hill told reporters postgame.
Saints quarterback Andy Dalton, making his second start in place of an injured Jameis Winston, was even more complementary of Hill’s impact in the game.
“I mean, he’s such a weapon, and there’s nobody else like him. If you’re a defense, you have to prepare for so much when you never know where he’s going to line up,” Dalton said.
“So, I mean, his performance today, it’s hard to match all the stuff that he can do and all the stuff that he was able to do today to help us win. Yeah, he’s special.”
The top moment for Hill came when he delivered the go-ahead touchdown, a 60-yard run on a third-and-1 with 5:22 to play.
That came moments after Seattle took a 32-31 lead on a long touchdown run from rookie Kenneth Walker III.
“That was a big play,” Hill said of his game-winning touchdown run. “They were clearly selling out to stop the run. If you get past the first level of defense, then there is no one left.
“Once I broke through I knew it was a foot race. I think if I was five yards farther back, then I don’t know if I would have gotten in.”
Hill made some history with his four-touchdown effort.
He joined former Saints quarterback Archie Manning as only the second player in franchise history to run for three touchdowns and throw for another in a single game.
Hill also became just one of three players since 1950 to account for three or more rushing touchdowns, 100-plus rushing yards and a passing touchdown in a single game, per NFL Research, joining Ronnie Brown (2008) and LaDainian Tomlinson (2005).
“It’s so much fun when you receive opportunities with your teammates,” Hill said. “Those are the ones you remember and the moments that you cherish. The plays when your teammates come celebrate with you is what it is all about. Football is so much fun when you are making plays and winning games.”
Hill scored two rushing touchdowns — of 8 and 9 yards, respectively — in the second quarter to help the Saints build a 17-13 halftime lead.
He also converted a pair of third-and-short situations with runs on scoring drives, and Hill set up his first touchdown run with a 15-yard carry to move the Saints inside the Seattle red zone.
“I think any time you have a guy that can play the quarterback position and can affect the game with his legs, it creates a challenge for the defense because now you have to play 11-on-11 football and if you start creeping a safety too far into the box, he can still do some things in the passing game. It is a good piece to have,” Saints coach Dennis Allen told reporters.
Hall threw his first touchdown of the season — a 22-yard touchdown pass to tight end Adam Trautman — in the third quarter.
That capped a quick four-play, 79-yard drive and gave New Orleans a 31-19 lead.
“I was going to throw it. We talked at halftime. I think that was the classic we want to run the ball to set up the pass,” Hill said. “(Saints offensive coordinator) Pete (Carmichael) and I talked at halftime and he said that was one of the first plays we were going to get to me. He dialed it up perfectly.”
The Saints found ways to “perfectly” utilize their jack-of-all-trades player several times Sunday, and as a result, New Orleans picked up a much-needed win to improve to 2-3 on the season.
“I don’t want to overstate or undersell the importance of this win but one and three doesn’t feel great, obviously,” Hill said. “I felt like we needed a game like this just to get some confidence back and you know, the expectation moving forward is that we just keep this thing rolling.”