Jan 9, 2022; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; New Orleans Saints quarterback Taysom Hill (7) is checked after being injured running against the Atlanta Falcons during the first half at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Saints’ Taysom Hill needs surgery to repair Lisfranc injury

New Orleans Saints quarterback Taysom Hill needs surgery to repair the Lisfranc injury he sustained in Sunday’s season finale against the Atlanta Falcons.

Saints head coach Sean Payton didn’t give a timeline for recovery, however reports put Hill out of action for about six months.

Hill was injured during the second quarter after being tackled on a running play. Hill completed 7 of 9 passes for 107 yards and one touchdown and rushed five times for 18 yards before departing in the 30-20 win over Atlanta.

For the season, Hill passed for 978 yards, four touchdowns and five interceptions. He rushed for 374 yards and five scores.

The 31-year-old Hill started five games this season for the Saints (9-8), who did not qualify for the playoffs despite Sunday’s victory.

He was one of four starting quarterbacks New Orleans utilized this season.

Jameis Winston was the starter before tearing the ACL and MCL in his left knee in the Saints’ seventh game of the campaign. Trevor Siemian started four games and Ian Book received one start.

Siemian replaced Hill against Atlanta and went 9 of 15 for 71 yards and two touchdowns.

–Field Level Media

Jan 9, 2022; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; New Orleans Saints quarterback Taysom Hill (7) passes against the Atlanta Falcons during the first quarter at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Saints QB Taysom Hill injures foot against Falcons

New Orleans Saints quarterback Taysom Hill sustained a Lisfranc injury to his left foot during Sunday’s 30-20 victory over the Atlanta Falcons.

Hill was injured during the second quarter after being tackled on a running play.

“He hurt his Lisfranc. We just don’t know to what degree,” Saints coach Sean Payton said of Hill.

A Lisfranc typically involves a fracture of the foot. Depending on the severity, the recovery time could be as long as six months.

Hill suffered a Lisfranc injury to his right foot when he was a star quarterback at BYU. The injury occurred in the opening game of the 2015 season against Nebraska and he missed the rest of the season.

Hill was 7-of-9 passing for 107 yards and one touchdown and rushed five times for 18 yards before departing against Atlanta.

For the season, Hill passed for 978 yards, four touchdowns and five interceptions. He rushed for 374 yards and five scores.

The 31-year-old Hill started five games this season for the Saints (9-8), who did not qualify for the playoffs despite Sunday’s victory. He was one of four starting quarterbacks New Orleans utilized.

Jameis Winston was the starter before tearing the ACL and MCL in his left knee in the Saints’ seventh game of the campaign. Trevor Siemian started four games and Ian Book received one start.

Siemian replaced Hill against Atlanta and went 9 of 15 for 71 yards and two touchdowns.

–Field Level Media

Jan 9, 2022; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; New Orleans Saints wide receiver Tre'Quan Smith (10) runs against Atlanta Falcons safety Duron Harmon (21) after a catch during the first half at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Saints knock off Falcons but fall out of playoff picture

Trevor Siemian came off the bench to throw two touchdown passes as the visiting New Orleans Saints defeated the Atlanta Falcons 30-20 on Sunday.

The Saints (9-8) got a win they needed to stay alive for a wild-card playoff berth, but they were eliminated from the playoff picture when the 49ers defeated the Rams in overtime a short time later.

Siemian replaced injured Taysom Hill in the second quarter and completed nine of 15 for 71 yards. Hill completed 7 of 9 passes for 107 yards and a touchdown before suffering an injury to his left foot.

Alvin Kamara rushed for 146 yards on a career-high 30 carries to help the Saints possess the ball for 39 minutes, 17 seconds.

That helped limit Matt Ryan to 216 yards on 20 of 33 passing, after he threw for a season-high 343 yards in a 27-25 victory in New Orleans on Nov. 7.

Qadree Ollison’s 19-yard touchdown run produced the only points of the third quarter and pulled the Falcons (7-10) within 24-13 at the end of the period.

Brett Maher’s 27-yard and 33-yard field goals increased the lead to 30-13 midway through the fourth quarter.

Ryan threw a 1-yard touchdown to Russell Gage to complete the scoring with 21 seconds left.

On the game’s first possession, the Saints drove 84 yards in 10 plays, capped by Hill’s 18-yard scoring toss to Adam Trautman. It marked the first time this season that New Orleans scored a touchdown on its opening drive.

Younghoe Koo kicked a 48-yard field goal, trimming the Saints’ lead to 7-3 lead at the end of the first quarter.

Then, Koo’s 54-yard field goal got the Falcons within 7-6 early in the second quarter.

Hill was knocked from the game later in the quarter. Siemian replaced him and threw a 13-yard touchdown pass to Tre’Quan Smith for a 14-6 lead.

A pair of Falcons turnovers led to Maher’s 37-yard field goal and Siemian’s 5-yard touchdown pass to Juwan Johnson with two seconds left, extending New Orleans’ lead to 24-6 at halftime.

–Field Level Media

Jan 2, 2022; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton claps during pregame warm ups before their game against the Carolina Panthers at the Caesars Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Despite hurdles, Saints face Falcons with playoffs in sight

The New Orleans Saints have dealt with a lot of complications this season.

They were displaced to the Dallas-Fort Worth area for a month at the start of the season and had to move their opener from the Caesars Superdome to Jacksonville because of damage Hurricane Ida did to New Orleans.

Star wide receiver Michael Thomas has missed the entire season because of foot surgery, starting quarterback Jameis Winston was lost for the season in October because of a knee injury and more than a half dozen other key players have missed significant time due to injury.

Head coach Sean Payton, several assistants and about two dozen players have missed games because of multiple COVID-19 surges.

Yet despite all that, the Saints (8-8) head into the regular-season finale at Atlanta (7-9) on Sunday with an opportunity to earn a wild-card playoff berth. If they beat the Falcons and the Rams beat the 49ers on Sunday, the Saints are in.

“We have managed to keep our head above water, keep grinding, and keep fighting,” said Payton, whose team has won three of its last four after a five-game losing streak. “The number one goal, outside of winning the division, is making it to the postseason.

“We have the opportunity to do that this weekend, and you just want to find a way to get into the tournament.”

The Saints stayed alive in the playoff race with an 18-10 home victory against Carolina last Sunday.

Right tackle Ryan Ramczyk, who has missed the last seven games because of a knee injury, returned to practice on a limited basis Wednesday after being removed from the reserve/COVID list. Right tackle Terron Armstead (knee) and defensive end Marcus Davenport (ankle) missed practice.

“When you go all the way back to the start of the season,” Payton said, “it feels like two and a half years ago we were evacuating to Dallas during the hurricane. It doesn’t feel like that’s part of this season.”

The five-game losing streak began with a 27-25 loss to the Falcons on Nov. 7 in the Superdome.

Atlanta stayed alive in the playoff race until a 29-15 loss at Buffalo last Sunday.

“Obviously we wanted to get into these playoffs,” Falcons first-year coach Arthur Smith said. “We didn’t. So we’ve got to deal with reality and we’ve got to finish this season strong.”

The Saints and the Falcons are each other’s most frequent opponents, having met 104 times.

“You need division rivalries,” Smith said. “You want people to be excited about a game.”

Matt Ryan passed for a season-high 343 yards and two touchdowns in the first meeting. He also ran for a touchdown and the Falcons prevailed on Younghoe Koo’s 29-yard field goal as time expired.

“It’s always disappointing when you don’t have the opportunity to get into the playoffs and keep going,” Ryan said. “But we still have one more opportunity to go out there and try and play as well as we can against a division opponent, a good rival who’s playing for a lot.”

The Falcons have dealt with COVID issues of late as well. At one point they had 13 players on the reserve/COVID-19 list, but they’re down to three after activating six this week.

Kyle Pitts is the second rookie tight end in NFL history to have 1,000 receiving yards. He needs 59 more against the Saints to break Mike Ditka’s NFL record of 1,076, but he missed practice Wednesday because of a hamstring injury that sidelined him during the game in Buffalo.

–Field Level Media

Jan 2, 2022; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; Carolina Panthers running back Chuba Hubbard (30) is tackled by several New Orleans Saints defenders in the first quarter at the Caesars Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Saints corral Panthers, keep playoff hopes alive

The New Orleans finally scored a touchdown on Alvin Kamara’s fourth-quarter reception and they held on to defeat the visiting Carolina Panthers 18-10 on Sunday.

Brett Maher kicked four field goals to push the Saints into the lead by early in the third quarter.

It was mostly defense that boosted the Saints (8-8), who needed to win in order to keep their postseason hopes alive. New Orleans had seven sacks with 3.5 coming from Cameron Jordan.

The Panthers (5-11), who didn’t score in the second half, have lost six games in a row.

Carolina had a 10-play drive in the works into the final minute until J.C. Gardner-Johnson intercepted Sam Darnold near midfield to end the threat to seal the outcome.

Taysom Hill threw the 12-yard touchdown pass to Kamara and finished with 222 passing yards on 17 of 28 accuracy. He also led the Saints with 45 rushing yards. Marquez Callaway made six catches for 97 yards.

It was the home finale for the Saints, who won for the third time in their last four games. They finish the regular season next week at Atlanta.

Darnold threw for 132 yards on 17-of-26 passing for Carolina. Chuba Hubbard gained 55 rushing yards on 17 carries and a touchdown.

Darnold made his first start since going out with a shoulder injury at midseason. Cam Newton was the starter the past five games, all losses for the Panthers.

The Saints, who didn’t commit a turnover, limited the Panthers to 178 yards of total offense. Maher had field goals from 41, 27, 41 and 33 yards. Lirim Hajrullahu made a 32-yard field goal for the
Panthers to open the scoring, but he missed from 47 yards out with a chance to give Carolina the lead early in the fourth quarter.

The Panthers were ahead 10-3 after Hubbard’s 21-yard scoring run early in the second quarter.

Carolina beat the Saints 26-7 in the second week of the season.

–Field Level Media

Nov 25, 2021; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; New Orleans Saints quarterback Trevor Siemian (15) hands off to New Orleans Saints running back Tony Jones Jr. (34) in the first quarter against the Buffalo Bills at the Caesars Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Saints count on getting healthy ahead of Carolina’s visit

The New Orleans Saints are expecting to get healthier by the time they face the Carolina Panthers on Sunday in New Orleans.

If not, it could spell serious trouble for the Saints (7-8).

Already out of reach is a repeat as NFC South champions. But their bid to reach the playoffs is ongoing. They’ll need to take care of business against the Panthers in order to have a chance to land in the postseason.

“We got to control what we can control, and our mindset going through this next week is we got to get a win,” Saints linebacker Pete Werner said. “Winning is on our mind, and we got to go out and execute.”

New Orleans played Monday night with 22 players on the COVID/reserve list. Two of those players were quarterbacks Taysom Hill and Trevor Siemian, meaning rookie Ian Book was summoned for his first NFL start.

The Saints insist that there’s still something to build on there and are not dwelling on the idea that one or both quarterbacks might’ve been able to play under the latest update to the NFL COVID protocol.

“Every week is different,” receiver Marquez Callaway said. “Different scheme. Different itinerary we go through. But throughout the weeks, you learn from your past week, the week before that.”

The Panthers (5-10) are on a five-game losing streak and have been eliminated from playoff contention.

“We want the wins,” Panthers receiver Robby Anderson said. “If you learn from a loss, you grow from it. We’re going through growing pains.”

Carolina’s offense has been in shambles, with Cam Newton unable to orchestrate a victory in five games as a starter this season. Sam Darnold will return to the starting role this week, coach Matt Rhule said Wednesday, in his second game back following an absence with a shoulder injury.

Fans booed the Panthers at times last week, so playing their last two games on the road might turn out to be a good situation.

“We don’t want (any) fake fans,” Anderson said. “We want diehard, loyal fans.”

New Orleans still presents a tough defense, doing its part of much of the 20-3 loss to Miami on Monday night. The Saints shut out the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the game before that.

Adding to the Panthers’ problems has been attention on Rhule’s status. With Rhule only in his second season, there’s plenty of grumbling coming from the fan base for a team that has wrapped up its home schedule.

“I’m going to … try to put together the best plan for our guys this week,” Rhule said. “I hope that our players respect that and appreciate that.”

Carolina isn’t free from COVID issues, with six players placed on the protocol list Monday to push the total number to 12 by midweek. Plus, cornerback Stephon Gilmore is likely out with a groin injury.

The Saints still have a chance to recover from their evolving roster dilemmas.

“I’ve quickly learned in the NFL, it’s about depth,” Werner said. “It’s about taking these opportunities, learning from them and going out and executing because, then again, it’s the NFL. You’re here for a reason.”

The Panthers beat the Saints 26-7 in the second week of the season.

The Saints are Carolina’s most-frequent opponent. New Orleans leads the series 27-26.

–Field Level Media

Dec 27, 2021; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; Miami Dolphins tight end Mike Gesicki (88) leaps over New Orleans Saints cornerback Paulson Adebo (right) during the first half at Caesars Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

Dolphins run winning streak to 7 by dominating Saints

The visiting Miami Dolphins — led by a dominant defense — won their seventh straight game, defeating the short-handed New Orleans Saints 20-3 on Monday night.

Miami (8-7) got a 28-yard pick-six from Nik Needham, a 1-yard touchdown flip from Tua Tagovailoa to Jaylen Waddle and a pair of Jason Sanders field goals.

The Dolphins’ winning streak is the second-longest active run in the NFL, trailing only the Kansas City Chiefs’ eight-game streak.

Miami’s defense had its first eight-sack game since 2012.

New Orleans (7-8) was without 22 players due to COVID-19 protocols. Quarterback Ian Book made his NFL debut and struggled against Miami’s blitzing defense. He threw two interceptions and completed 12 of 20 passes for 135 yards.

As has been the case all year, Tagovailoa threw mostly safe passes, going 19 of 26 for 198 yards with one interception and the one touchdown.

Waddle caught 10 passes for 92 yards. For the season, he has 96 catches for 941 yards, breaking Chris Chambers’ Dolphins rookie record for receiving yards. Chambers had 883 yards in 2001.

Book’s second career NFL pass resulted in a Dolphins touchdown. Andrew Van Ginkel deflected the pass at the line of scrimmage, and Needham turned it into an easy 28-yard interception return and a 7-0 Miami lead.

On its second possession, Miami extended its lead to 10-0 on Sanders’ 48-yard field goal. Miami was fortunate to get those three points because — on the previous play — Marcus Davenport strip-sacked Tagovailoa. However, Dolphins offensive lineman Liam Eichenberg recovered the fumble.

New Orleans got on the board with 2:45 left in the first half, when an eight-play, 55-yard drive ended with Brett Maher’s 38-yard field goal. The Dolphins led 10-3 at halftime.

With 5:10 left in the third quarter, Miami’s offense became the first to reach the end zone. It went down as a 1-yard scoring pass, but it was actually an end-around flip to Waddle, who cut back inside to increase Miami’s lead to 17-3.

That touchdown was set up by a huge third-and-9 play as Tagovailoa lofted a 40-yard pass to Mack Hollins, who made the catch despite apparent defensive interference. Later in the drive, the Dolphins converted a third-and-2 due to a roughing-the-passer penalty.

Sanders’ 34-yard field goal with 12:05 left in the fourth gave Miami a 20-3 advantage.

The Dolphins wound up with 259 total yards to the Saints’ 164.

–Field Level Media

Dec 19, 2021; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (1) attempts a pass against the New York Jets during the second half at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Dolphins flip to favorites at COVID-depleted Saints

The Miami Dolphins might be catching another lucky break.

Miami (7-7), which will visit the New Orleans Saints (7-7) on Monday night, is on a six-game winning streak, including a 31-24 victory over the New York Jets on Sunday. The Dolphins have the second-longest active win streak in the NFL, trailing only the Kansas City Chiefs (seven).

The Dolphins, however, have played a soft schedule during this run, beating only one team with a winning record — the 8-6 Baltimore Ravens. Every other Dolphins opponent during the streak already has clinched a losing record for the season.

On Monday night, the Dolphins will face quarterback Ian Book, a fourth-round rookie out of Notre Dame who will make his NFL debut.

The Saints’ top two QBs, Taysom Hill and Trevor Siemian, were two of nine players New Orleans placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list Thursday. The list also included starting safety Malcolm Jenkins, linebacker Kaden Elliss and defensive linemen Jalyn Holmes and Christian Ringo. Four more were added Friday, including starting linebacker Demario Davis and starting right tackle Ryan Ramczyk.

The Saints opened Week 15 as 3.0-point home favorites, but the line flipped to the Dolphins being favored by the same amount at DraftKings by Monday. Miami is being backed by 65 percent of the bets and 75 percent of the spread-line handle.

Book is set to become the fifth Saints starting quarterback this calendar year, a run that began with Drew Brees in January, before his retirement. Jameis Winston began the 2021 season as the starter before a season-ending knee injury on Halloween.

That led the Saints to Book, who went 30-5 at Notre Dame, setting a school record for most wins by a starting QB.

“He’s a sharp kid,” Saints quarterback coach Ronald Curry said of Book, 23. “He’s a fast learner and a film junkie. He doesn’t make the same mistake twice, and I love working with him.”

Then again, Book struggled against top opponents at Notre Dame, and he would face a Dolphins defense that loves to bring exotic blitzes.

Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard, who this week was named to his third Pro Bowl, is the player most likely to victimize Book. Howard has intercepted 22 passes in his past 46 games, an impressive pace.

Other Dolphins defenders to watch include rookie Jaelan Phillips, who leads the team with 8 1/2 sacks; linebacker Jerome Baker, who has a team-high 73 tackles; and safety Eric Rowe (team-high three forced fumbles).

Over the past seven weeks, Miami ranks second in the NFL in fewest yards allowed.

Offensively, the Dolphins are led by second-year quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, who has completed 69.9 percent of his passes this season.

Rookie wide receiver Jaylen Waddle, who leads Miami with 86 catches and 849 receiving yards, is back from the COVID list this week.

Dolphins coach Brian Flores said he has confidence in his team.

“It’s a great group to coach,” Flores said. “They support each other.”

Miami hopes to become the first NFL team to finish with a winning record in the same year they started 1-7.

Dolphins rookie safety Jevon Holland, on the COVID list last week, is back at practice after clearing protocols. He has made numerous big plays for the Dolphins, including two interceptions and two sacks.

The Saints, though, are in a precarious position and may be down both starting offensive tackles. Terron Armstead (knee) did not practice Thursday and Friday, and Ramczyk also was dealing with a knee injury before being placed on the COVID list.

Running back Alvin Kamara is the Saints’ primary threat. In just 10 games this season, he has gained 1,016 yards and scored eight touchdowns from scrimmage this year.

The Saints also will rely on their defense; they are coming off a 9-0 win Sunday over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, becoming the first team to blank Tom Brady in 15 years.

The Saints got coach Sean Payton back Friday after he missed a week in COVID protocols. Payton will look to do something about an offense that ranks last in the NFL in completion percentage (57.4).

Now they’re set to play a hot defense, all while starting a quarterback making his NFL debut.

The 37.0-point Over/Under at DraftKings has seen the Over backed by 68 percent of the bets and 51 percent of the handle.

–Field Level Media

August 17, 2019;  Honolulu, HI, USA; Dallas Cowboys linebacker Justin March-Lillard (53) during the first quarter against the Los Angeles Rams at Aloha Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Saints sign Justin March-Lillard, Ethan Westbrooks for Monday

Looking to reinforce their COVID-19-depleted roster, the New Orleans Saints reportedly signed linebacker Justin March-Lillard and defensive tackle Ethan Westbrooks ahead of Monday night’s home matchup vs. the Miami Dolphins.

According to Nola.com, the two veteran defenders flew to New Orleans on Sunday evening and were expected to join the team Monday morning. They’ll play on Monday night pending negative COVID-19 tests.

March-Lillard, 28, appeared in one game on special teams for the San Francisco 49ers in December. He joined the league in 2016 with the Kansas City Chiefs and spent the previous four seasons with the Dallas Cowboys, where he played in 51 games overall with most of his playing time coming on special teams.

The 31-year-old Westbrooks, who played for five seasons with the St. Louis/Los Angeles Rams, hasn’t played in a regular season game since 2018. He did a short stint with the Las Vegas Raiders this past summer. He has 79 tackles and nine sacks in 67 career games (11 starts) for the Rams.

The Saints (7-7) currently have 15 active roster players on the reserve/COVID-19 list.

–Field Level Media

Dec 26, 2021; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Brandon Powell (19) reacts with defensive end Mike Hoecht (96) against the Minnesota Vikings during the third quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

NFL moves kickoff times for two Week 17 games

The NFL on Monday announced time changes for two games in Week 17.

The league flip-flopped the Los Angeles Rams-Baltimore and Carolina-New Orleans games, moving Rams-Ravens to 1 p.m. ET while making Panthers-Saints the 4:25 p.m. ET contest. Both games will remain on FOX.

Both games have playoff implications, with the Ravens (8-7) and Rams (11-4) both fighting to win their respective divisions. The Saints are trying to fight their way into the playoff picture while the Panthers have been eliminated.

The Saints (7-7) play the Miami Dolphins on Monday night in the finale of Week 16.

–Field Level Media