Saints ride Hill to rollercoaster win over Seahawks

GAME-WINNER: Taysom Hill takes the final strides in his decisive 60-yard touchdown run Sunday, lifting New Orleans over Seattle in the Caesars Superdome. (Photo by PETER FOREST, Journal Sports)


NEW ORLEANS — It was Taysom Time in the Caesars Superdome on Sunday.

The New Orleans Saints snapped a three-game losing streak as Taysom Hill accounted for four  touchdowns in a full-throttle 39-32 victory over the Seattle Seahawks, prevailing in a contest with seven lead changes.

Hill ran for three touchdowns, including the decisive 60-yard score in the fourth quarter, and led the team with 112 rushing yards on nine carries. The longtime fan favorite also threw a 22-yard touchdown pass to Adam Trautman and recovered a fumble on special teams.

Hill’s offensive involvement went according to plan.

“We talked earlier in the week and felt like some of the run game stuff that we could do with Taysom in the game would be really good against this group,” said Saints’ first-year coach Dennis Allen.

Said Hill: “I knew I was going to get more opportunities this week, so I just did my part to prepare for when I came up. There’s a lot of conversation about me right now, but when you can rush the ball for over 200 yards (that’s a credit to an offensive line). Those guys up front played very well. Their defense was being very physical and their linebackers were moving really well. I feel like offensively that we have been riding this tipping point and this was an ending that we were ready for.”

New Orleans (2-3, 0-2 in the NFC East) scored first as Will Lutz made a 56-yard field goal. Seattle responded by needing only five plays to score as Geno Smith found DK Metcalf open for a 50-yard touchdown. The Seahawks extended their lead by adding a field goal.

New Orleans found the end zone for the first time in the second quarter with an eight-yard run by Hill. The Saints then took advantage of a Seahawks special teams miscue as a bungled punt gave the ball to the Saints at the Seahawks’ 13-yard line.

Two plays later, Hill rushed in from nine yards out to give the Saints the 17-10 advantage.

Seattle reclaimed the lead with another field goal and a 35-yard touchdown pass from Smith to Tyler Lockett seconds before halftime.

Saints second-year linebacker Pete Werner started the rally from 19-17 down when he dislodged the ball from Metcalf and it was recovered by David Onyemata. Six plays later, Andy Dalton hooked up with rookie wide receiver Chris Olave for a 16-yard touchdown.

New Orleans added to its lead with a four-play, 79-yard drive highlighted by a 54-yard pass from Dalton to Alvin Kamara. The drive was capped with Hill throwing the touchdown to Trautman for a 31-19 advantage 36 seconds before the final period.

Early in the fourth, Seattle closed the gap with Smith finding Lockett again for a touchdown — this one from 40 yards out. The two-point attempt was no good. After forcing New Orleans to punt, Seattle took the lead again with 6:54 to go as rookie running back Kenneth Walker III scored on a 69-yard rushing touchdown for a 32-31 edge.

New Orleans sealed the win on the ensuing possession as Hill took the designed run play over the left side and outran the defense for a 60-yard touchdown. Mark Ingram scored the two-point conversion with 5:22 left.

“They knew we were going to run the ball on third and short. They were clearly selling out to stop the run,” said Hill. “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.”

Dalton, starting again for the injured Jameis Winston, completed 16-of-24 passes for 187 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Kamara ran for 103 yards on 23 carries while also leading the Saints with six receptions for 91 yards.

Hill’s Swiss-Army-Knife impact was pivotal, said Dalton.

“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. “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.”

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, whose team dipped to 2-3, gave credit where it was due.

“Taysom Hill had a great football game against us. We did not stop him, and our plan for the Wildcat did not work. That was truly the difference for them, I thought, in a lot of crucial situations he came through in a big way for them. It wasn’t new. They had done it. The things we tried to do, we couldn’t get it done.”

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