Quarterback-less Broncos Complete One Pass in Blowout Loss to Saints

Broncos
Matthew Healey/UPI

Nov. 29 (UPI) — The New Orleans Saints cruised to a 31-3 win Sunday at Empower Field after the Denver Broncos were forced to use an emergency quarterback because of COVID-19 complications.

Broncos starting quarterback Drew Lock, backup Brett Rypien and practice squad signal-caller Blake Bortles were disqualified from competing over the weekend when the NFL learned the three players weren’t wearing masks Wednesday, the day before third-string quarterback Jeff Driskel tested positive for the coronavirus.

With Lock, Rypien and Bortles out for Sunday’s game due to the league’s contact tracing protocols, the Broncos went with 23-year-old rookie Kendall Hinton — a practice squad wide receiver and former Wake Forest quarterback — under center against the Saints.

Hinton, who attempted his first pass since facing Clemson in 2018 while at Wake Forest, completed only one of his nine pass attempts for 13 yards and two interceptions. The Broncos managed only 112 offensive yards, marking Denver’s lowest output on offense since finishing with 128 yards in a loss at Washington on Oct. 12, 1992.

The 112 offensive yards that New Orleans allowed was the lowest total in franchise history.

“He did everything he could,” Broncos head coach Vic Fangio said of Hinton. “That was a big, big ask.”

“I was disappointed on a couple of levels. Our quarterbacks put us in this position. Our quarterbacks put the league in that position,” Fangio said. “We count on them to be the leaders of our team, the leaders of our offense, and those guys made a mistake. And that is disappointing.”

Saints quarterback Taysom Hill, who was filling in for the injured Drew Brees for the second consecutive week, was 9 of 16 for 78 yards with an interception. He also ran 10 times for 44 yards and two touchdowns.

Royce Freeman led the Broncos with 50 rushing yards on eight carries. Tight end Noah Fant’s 13-yard grab was Denver’s only reception in the game.

The Broncos (4-7) are scheduled to play the Kansas City Chiefs next week, while the Saints (9-2) will visit the Atlanta Falcons.

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