The Denver Broncos' quarterback options were limited Sunday, to say the least.
Kendall Hinton, a practice squad receiver, was listed as the starter. However, running back Phillip Lindsay took the opening snap of the game. On the Broncos' first drive, Lindsay, Hinton and running back Royce Freeman all took snaps at quarterback.
The Broncos' three eligible quarterbacks -- Drew Lock, Brett Rypien and Blake Bortles -- were each deemed to be high-risk COVID-19 close contacts and none of the three dressed for Sunday's game due to the NFL's COVID-19 protocols. Lock, the starting QB, apologized on Sunday for his actions. The Broncos tried to sign an offensive quality control coach to the active roster and start him at QB, but the leagued nixed that idea.
That's how Hinton, an undrafted rookie from Wake Forest, got the start. With Drew Brees injured, the New Orleans Saints again started Taysom Hill, who threw for 233 yards and rushed for two scores last week against the Atlanta Falcons. Both teams struggled on offense. The output from both starting QBs led to some bizarre numbers.
Here's a look at some of the numbers courtesy of ESPN Stats & Information:
Hinton started the game 0 for 7 passing with an interception. He didn't complete his first pass until the third quarter. Hill completed just two passes in the first quarter. It was the lowest combined number of completions since Week 14 of the 2017 season when the Indianapolis Colts and Buffalo Bills combined for one completion. At halftime, the Saints and Broncos combined for one yard passing.
The Broncos went 0-7 passing in the 1st half vs the Saints.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) November 29, 2020
According to @EliasSports the last team to go 0-7 or worse in the 1st half of a game was the Chargers (0-8) in 1991 vs the Raiders. pic.twitter.com/e964ur6CFa
That number is the Broncos' worst performance in the first half since Tim Tebow went 0-for-4 in Week 10 of the 2011 season. Oddly enough, the Broncos won that game and Tebow completed just two passes.
The Broncos didn't help Hinton much. Five of his seven passes were thrown 15-plus yards downfield, and he had no screen passes. He was also pressured on five of his seven attempts.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Hinton's seven straight incompletions to start his career represents the second-longest streak by a player to make his debut over the past 40 years. Only player with a longer run? Punter Jeff Feagles, who had 8 consecutive incompletions to begin his career. His streak lasted his entire career.
While Hill's passing numbers were paltry (9-for-16, 78 yards), he was effective running the ball. He scored two rushing touchdowns Sunday making him the sixth QB since 1950 to have multiple rushing scores in consecutive weeks. Others on that list: Cam Newton, Kordell Stewart, Eric Hipple, Otto Graham and Johnny Lujack. However, Hill's success, and the performance of running back Latavius Murray, angered many fantasy football players who likely drafted Saints running back Alvin Kamara very highly for their teams.
Alvin Kamara with— PFF Fantasy Football (@PFF_Fantasy) November 29, 2020
Taysom Hill Drew Brees pic.twitter.com/8GUJz23Xuv
Taysom Hill really took Alvin Kamara's fantasy points and said... pic.twitter.com/sy34KqabPL— Tony Madness (@MrMadness) November 29, 2020
This was the Saints' first game with four rushing scores since 2017 when they had six in a game against the Buffalo Bills.
For Hinton and the Broncos' offense, there was no bright spot. Hinton finished 1-for-9 for 13 yards with two interceptions. The Broncos are the first team since the 1998 San Diego Chargers to have a game with more interceptions than completions. They are the only two teams in the past 45 years to have such an ignominious accomplishment.
There was a lot of reaction to this game as well.
There was a game today.— Denver Broncos (@Broncos) November 29, 2020
The final score is what it is.
Undrafted rookie WIDE RECEIVER @Kendall_Hinton2 came off the practice squad, had zero practice reps and competed in his first NFL game as the Broncos' QUARTERBACK-an unprecedented situation.
He deserves all the respect. pic.twitter.com/C4UpkPTZBQ
The Broncos punter after this game pic.twitter.com/Our0jm3J1J— Josh Dishman (@SirJoshDishman) November 29, 2020
Broncos presser answers gotta be like... pic.twitter.com/smdr1WvSaM— Double L must Rock The Bells (@LoveThePuck) November 29, 2020
A Broncos team with no QBs scored the same number of points against the Saints as a team with Tom Brady, Leonard Fournette, LeSean McCoy, Ronald Jones, Antonio Brown, Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Rob Gronkowski and Cameron Brate.— Evan Saacks (@evansaacks) November 29, 2020
Saints first win against Broncos since 1994 and all it took was for us to have zero QB's on the roster with less than 24 hours notice. 😂— MileHighGreco (@MileHighGreco) November 29, 2020