Injuries were the main storyline for the New Orleans Saints heading into their "Thursday Night Football" matchup with the Dallas Cowboys and those issues bled into the matchup itself. For the first time this season, Taysom Hill got the nod at quarterback as Sean Payton elected to turn to his Swiss Army knife to exclusively work under center in the Week 13 opener.
Over the first three drives, both teams were unable to put points on the board, but Hill was working efficiently, completing five of his eight initial pass attempts for 29 yards. It was on that eighth throw, however, where Hill would jam the middle finger of his throwing hand on an incomplete pass intended for receiver Marquez Callaway.
Replays would later show Hill's hand colliding into the arm of Dallas defensive end Dorance Armstrong on the third-and-7 attempt. As the punting unit came out, Hill would retreat to the sideline and be evaluated in the blue medical tent.
Taysom Hill has injured his hand!#Saints pic.twitter.com/xtKh53rq34— TimeoutSPORTS__ (@TimeoutSPORTS3) December 3, 2021
He'd eventually emerge and begin warming up, but with a splint on that middle finger. Hill didn't miss an offensive snap due to the injury, but it clearly bothered him the rest of the way. His accuracy appeared to be an issue throughout the game and the Saints struggled to push the ball down the field through the air, especially as they tried to play catch up once Dallas built up its lead.
"It's doing OK," said Hill of his finger postgame. "We'll get it assessed and figure out a plan tomorrow."
Following the injury, Hill completed 14 of his 33 passes (42.4%) for two touchdowns and four interceptions. Three of those picks came in the fourth quarter and included a pick-six. Hill noted that the splint "took a little bit of getting used to" as it naturally impacts how the ball comes off the throwing hand.
"I'm not going to rush to any kind of conclusions having not seen the tape or anything, but I feel like we did some things really well tonight and then we did some things really poorly," Hill said of his overall performance. "Obviously, it's tough to win a game when you turn the ball over four times. As soon as you look at the stats and you look at what you did, that's obviously the thing that jumps out to you. That's disappointing."
Prior to the finger injury, Hill -- who was also dealing with a foot injury coming into this contest -- had only rushed for 3 yards. The Saints did start to unleash that piece of Hill's game more in the second half as he finished the contest with a game-high of 101 yards on the ground on 9.2 yards per carry. He said after the game that the pain in his foot is "manageable" and didn't limit what he felt like he is typically capable of in that aspect of his game.
Of course, this all is occurring as New Orleans still tries to find its way under center in the first season of the post-Drew Brees era. Hill has been a candidate to carry that baton going forward, but the main sticking point that has prevented him from fully ascending to QB1 has been his lack of development as a pure passer. While a game where he injured his throwing hand may not be the best barometer to evaluate that, there weren't enough flashes that should prevent the Saints from continuing to search for their next franchise quarterback over the next few weeks and months.