DENVER – Taysom Hill didn't look much like an NFL quarterback Sunday when the Denver Broncos held him to 78 yards passing, intercepted him once and sacked him three times.
Despite a paltry passer rating of 43.2, it wasn't Hill who looked out of position in a game the New Orleans Saints won handily, 31-3.
It was Broncos QB Kendall Hinton who looked lost, and for good reason: Until Sunday he was a practice squad receiver, and he was forced into action when all of Denver's quarterbacks were disqualified over coronavirus concerns.
"When I got the call it was pure excitement," Hinton said. "Of course, there was nerves and disbelief, but the encouragement the team gave me ... made it a lot easier for me."
The former Wake Forest quarterback who converted to wide receiver his senior year went 1-for-9 — a 13-yard pass to tight end Noah Fant was his only completion — with a sack, two interceptions and a passer rating of zero.
"He did everything he could," Denver coach Vic Fangio said. "That was a big, big ask."
The Broncos — who also sprinkled in some wildcat snaps to running backs Royce Freeman and Phillip Lindsay — were thrust into a quarterback quandary against NFC South-leading New Orleans (9-2) when Denver's passers failed to wear masks as mandated by the NFL's COVID-19 protocol last week.
Starter Drew Lock, backup Brett Rypien and practice squad veteran Blake Bortles were disqualified Saturday when the NFL discovered the three weren't wearing masks around each other before No. 3 QB Jeff Driskel tested positive for coronavirus Thursday.
An hour before kickoff, Lock tweeted an explanation and a mea culpa in which he admitted the QBs weren't wearing their masks when they gathered last week.
"For our quarterbacks to put us in this position was disappointing," Fangio said, "and I'm disappointed that I didn't do a good enough job selling them on the importance of the protocols."
The Broncos (4-7) managed 37 yards and a single first down before heading into halftime down 17-0 after the Saints scored twice off turnovers in the final 2:22 of the second quarter. Latavius Murray rushed for 124 yards and two touchdowns, and Hill added 44 rushing yards and two TDs for New Orleans, winner of eight in a row.
"Taysom played this thing just how I wanted him to play it, and it doesn't have to be aesthetically pleasing to be effective," Saints coach Sean Payton said. "The job is to win, and he did a good job of that."