Taysom Hill got better as the game wore on Sunday, leading the New Orleans Saints to a 24-9 victory over the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday at Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

Hill rushed for two second-half touchdowns while completing 78.2% of his passes in the former BYU star’s first start as an NFL quarterback, as he fills in for the injured All-Pro Drew Brees.

After New Orleans fell behind 9-3, Hill led the Saints on three touchdown drives as they beat their NFC South rivals while racking up 378 yards of total offense.

Taysom Hill final stats

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Hill’s 51 rushing yards was a team high, though he had a fumble in the fourth quarter at the end of a 20-yard run when the Saints could have added to their lead. Still, Hill had a big day on the ground, scoring from 2 yards out in the third quarter on a fourth-down play, then scored later on a 10-yard run where he beat the defender to the pylon.

Hill also looked comfortable in the pocket as a passer, particularly as the game wore on. He completed nine passes to Michael Thomas for 104 yards, and a 44-yard pass to Emmanuel Sanders in the second quarter set up New Orleans’ first touchdown.

Drive No. 10, starts at New Orleans 40

Saints lead 24-9, drive starts 5:03, fourth quarter

Taysom Hill twice converted third-and-1 runs to keep the drive going, and the clock running, as the Saints ran out a lot of clock before punting the ball back to Atlanta in the final minute.

Taysom Hill stats, drive No. 10

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Drive No. 9, starts at New Orleans 35

Saints lead 24-9, drive starts 11:07, fourth quarter

Taysom Hill’s first turnover ended what was a promising drive and play, as he got stripped on a quarterback draw that had gained 20 yards down to the Atlanta 22. It was one of those exciting plays that shows off Hill’s unique value as a runner, but he got careless with the ball.

Taysom Hill stats, drive No. 9

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New Orleans Saints quarterback Taysom Hill (7) carries for a touchdown against Atlanta Falcons linebacker Deion Jones (45) in the second half of an NFL football game in New Orleans, Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020. | Butch Dill, Associated Press

Drive No. 8, starts at New Orleans 47

Saints lead 17-9, drive starts 1:41, third quarter

Taysom Hill is really looking comfortable out there, after an impressive 10-yard touchdown run, his second of the day. This time, he outran the defender to the pylon. Earlier on the 53-yard scoring drive, he converted a third-and-3 with a 6-yard run on first play of the fourth quarter.

Hill has given the Saints a two-score lead and outplayed veteran Matt Ryan so far, aided by a huge defensive effort from New Orleans.

Taysom Hill stats, drive No. 8

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Drive No. 7, starts at New Orleans 43

Saints lead 17-9, drive starts 7:01, third quarter

Taysom Hill looked like he had given the Saints a two-score lead when a long pass — a little underthrown, mind you — was caught by Emmanuel Sanders for a 57-yard score on the drive’s opening play, but a holding penalty brought it back. Hill later took an 11-yard sack on a second-and-10 to stall the drive.

Taysom Hill stats, drive No. 7

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Drive No. 6, starts at New Orleans 20

Saints lead 10-9, drive starts 14:53, third quarter

Taysom Hill scored his first touchdown as the starter, running for 2 yards on a fourth-and-goal in a very vintage Taysom Hill play. It looked like the drive might stall after a third-down pass reached the Atlanta 2, but the Saints stayed aggressive to score on the fourth-down play.

Hill completed 4 of 5 passes for 54 yards on the 80-yard drive, including a 25-yard toss to running back Latavius Murray that got New Orleans down to the Atlanta 21.

This is the most poised Hill has looked all day.

Taysom Hill stats, drive No. 6

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New Orleans Saints quarterback Taysom Hill (7) drops back to pass in the first half of an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons in New Orleans, Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020. | Butch Dill, Associated Press

Halftime analysis

Saints lead 10-9

There’s been inconsistency — which is to be expected, considering it’s his first start — but Taysom Hill has led two scoring drives as New Orleans leads at the half.

Hill hasn’t really done much with his legs, rushing for just 6 yards on two attempts, and he’s also been sacked twice. He’s shown more as a runner getting to open spots in the pocket to make some nice throws.

As a passer, Hill has been OK, completing 69% of his passes for 127 yards. His favorite target has been Michael Thomas, who has five receptions for 56 yards, and while Hill airmailed the pass, his 44-yard completion to Emmanuel Sanders was big on the Saints’ touchdown drive.

New Orleans has two three-and-outs, and is still looking to establish consistency. For now, though, Hill has shown enough capability as the quarterback in his first start to believe he could stay the fill-in starter for the injured Drew Brees.

Taysom Hill stats, halftime

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Drive No. 5, starts at New Orleans 20

Saints trail 9-3, drive starts 4:26, second quarter

Taysom Hill guided the Saints on a go-ahead touchdown drive, marching 80 yards on seven plays with Hill throwing for 66 yards. He hit Jared Cook for first down on a third-and-6 at Atlanta 9, one play before Alvin Kamara scored on a carry from 3 yards out. Hill also completed a 16-yard pass to Michael Thomas on the first play of the possession, then connected with Emmanuel Sanders on a 44-yard throw that hung up in the air for a long time. For the first time all day, New Orleans leads.

Taysom Hill stats, drive No. 5

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Drive No. 4, starts at New Orleans 20

Saints trail 6-3, drive starts 8:57, second quarter

This drive didn’t gain much traction, as New Orleans moved the ball just four yards before punting the ball. Taysom Hill was off on a second-down throw that forced a third-and-8.

Taysom Hill stats, drive No. 4

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Drive No. 3, starts at New Orleans 25

Saints trail 6-3, drive starts 13:56, second quarter

The drive ended with a missed 53-yard Will Lutz field goal. On the first play, though, Taysom Hill faked handoff, then drifted left before lofting a pass to Michael Thomas for a 23-yard gain while under pressure for his nicest play so far of the game. Again, the Saints drove into Atlanta territory, but the drive stalled when Thomas dropped a pass on first down, Hill was caught for a 3-yard loss on the next play and a screen pass was incomplete to force the field-goal try.

Taysom Hill stats, drive No. 3

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Drive No. 2, starts at New Orleans 30

Saints trail 3-0, drive starts 7:17, first quarter

An end around to Deonte Harris netted a 23-yard gain on the drive’s second play to get the Saints into Atlanta territory, and Taysom Hill scrambled for a gain of four on the next play to the Atlanta 37. Hill, who completed 2 of 3 passes on the drive, hit rookie tight end Adam Trautman for a nice 19-yard pass across the middle to set up a first-and-goal at the Atlanta 4, but then the drive stalled. He nearly had a pass intercepted on second-and-goal, then a quick screen was read well and Michael Thomas gained no yards on third-and-goal at the Atlanta 4, leading to a 22-yard Will Lutz field goal to tie the game.

Taysom Hill stats, drive No. 2

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Drive No. 1, starts at New Orleans 24

Saints trail 3-0; drive starts 11:21, first quarter

Taysom Hill’s first drive goes three-and-out, after he took a 9-yard sack on third-and-1 at the New Orleans 33. Veteran Matt Ryan led the Falcons on a field-goal scoring drive to kick off the game, putting the Saints in an early hole. Hill rolled out on first down and hit star receiver Michael Thomas for an 8-yard gain but the drive soon stalled.

Taysom Hill stats, drive No. 1

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New Orleans Saints quarterback Taysom Hill warms up before an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons in New Orleans, Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020. | Butch Dill, Associated Press


In his fourth year in the NFL, Taysom Hill is finally being handed the reins as a starting quarterback.

Hill will start for the New Orleans Saints against the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday, with All-Pro quarterback Drew Brees, the Saints’ starter since 2006, on injured reserve with a reported 11 fractured ribs, per ESPN, and a collapsed lung.

Hill — who signed a two-year, $21 million contract extension with New Orleans this offseason as a restricted free agent — is earning the starting nod over fellow backup Jameis Winston, who started 70 games over the past five years for Tampa Bay before signing a one-year, $1.1 million deal in New Orleans.

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Before the game, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that Saints coach Sean Payton, long an ardent supporter of Hill, wrestled with the decision, and there are many among the organization that thought Winston should be starting.

“The Saints view this as a chance to get an evaluation of Hill at quarterback now and for the future, with Brees still likely to retire after this season, according to sources,” Schefter wrote.

NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported that Hill dealt a bit of nerves at practice early in the week, as the enormity of the situation sunk in.

“But he settled in and had a solid week. Expect Hill to find Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas early on short passes to get him in a rhythm and find success,” Rapoport wrote.

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