When the Saints lost to the Buccaneers in Week 1, backup quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and his “Fitz Magic” were all the rage.
However, flash forward three months and it’s the heroics of the Saints’ third string quarterback that enabled them to get revenge on their division rival.
Sparked by Taysom Hill’s blocked punt in the third quarter, the Saints (11-2) defeated the Buccaneers 28-14 to avenge their regular season opening loss, return to the win column and capture a second consecutive NFC South championship.
This marks the first time in franchise history that the Saints have won two division titles in a row.
Back to Back NFC South Champs mood 🏆🏆
— New Orleans Saints (@Saints) December 10, 2018
On Hill’s blocked punt, the Saints recovered the ball at the Buccaneers’ 30-yard line and never looked back.
The Saints scored 25 unanswered points in the second half, including 17 in the fourth quarter to rally for the victory.
“That ranks right up there for me,” Hill said to NOLA.com. “Blocked punts are pretty rare in this league. To have a game-changing play like that, it will definitely be a memorable moment for me.”
After Hill’s big play, there were touchdown runs by Brees (1 yard) and Mark Ingram (17 yards) and a 36-yard field from Will Lutz.
— New Orleans Saints (@Saints) December 9, 2018
“It was huge,” Saints defensive end Alex Okafor said to NOLA.com. “Special teams is an area of the game where you don’t expect to get a huge play like that. That’s a momentum-shifter and we capitalized on it.”
The jack of all trades Hill, who was an undrafted free agent out of Brigham Young in 2017, has returned kicks, covered punts, faked punts and run the read-option in the short-yardage and goal-line offense this season.
While the 6-foot-2, 221-pound Hill ultimately desires to play his natural position, he’s appreciate of the opportunity to get on the field in other capacities.
“I’m a quarterback, and I want to play quarterback,” Hill said to NOLA.com. “At the end of the day, though, I don’t want to sit on the bench. That’s not fun for me. I’m grateful that Coach (Sean Payton) and (special teams coach (Mike Westhoff) saw something in me and try to utilize me in different ways. Like I’ve told them before, whatever I can do to get on the field and help our team win, I’m all for it.”
Teammates respect the selfless attitude from Hill displayed by his willingness to do whatever it takes.
“He’s a great teammate,” Okafor said to NOLA.com. “You don’t see quarterbacks doing what he’s doing. You see athletically gifted quarterbacks all the time, but you don’t see quarterbacks on special teams blocking, throwing themselves, risking his body. You see a quarterback doing that, you’re like, ‘OK, if he’s doing this, then I need to take my game to the next level and be selfless, as well.'”