LANDOVER, Md. – There’s a long line of coaches dating back to when Taysom Hill first started playing football who have tried to get the Packers rookie quarterback to slide more on scrambles.
While that’s all well and good in theory, Hill still gets that glimmer in his eye whenever he sees the end zone within reach.
It happened again Saturday night during the Packers’ preseason game against Washington. With Green Bay down by three with a little more than 6 minutes remaining, Hill avoided a double-A-gap blitz and sprinted into the Redskins’ secondary.
Hill avoided not one, but two defensive backs and stiff-armed a third to complete the 23-yard touchdown run for what turned out to be the game-winning score in the Packers’ 21-17 win over Washington at FedExField.
“I think from college to the NFL, my mindset has always been the same,” Hill said. “I’ve had some coaches kind of harp on me to try to protect myself, but once I get into the red zone and I see the end zone, I’m going to do whatever I can to win. I wanted to get in.”
The undrafted rookie out of BYU completed 6-of-11 passes for 49 yards and scrambled six times for a team-high 38 rushing yards in three series after entering the game 8 seconds into the fourth quarter.
While fans were beginning to pour out as rain started to move in, Hill told the Packers players in the huddle this was their opportunity to showcase their abilities and win the game.
After connecting with receiver Jeff Janis on a 17-yard pass off a crossing route to start the drive, Hill hit a 10-yard pass to rookie running back Devante Mays and then scrambled for 9 yards on fourth-and-1 to extend the series.
Two plays later, the 6-foot-2, 221-pound quarterback ran in for the go-ahead score.
“My priority is to make sure I put us in a position to win the football game,” Hill said. “It means a lot to me. Let’s go win this football game. Let’s go get the lead back. That’s what we focused on. I know it’s the preseason and we want to put good film out there, but I wanted to win that football game.”
Hill’s late heroics came after quarterback Aaron Rodgers and primary backup Brett Hundley staked the Packers to a 14-10 lead at halftime.
Rodgers played only one series, guiding the starting offense down the field for a 15-play, 75-yard scoring drive that ended in a Martellus Bennett 3-yard touchdown.
After the second-team offense went three-and-out on its first possession, Hundley showed command and confidence when he retook the huddle during the start of the second quarter.
“Brett got us in the huddle, calmed us down and said we’re going to go down here and score,” running back Aaron Jones said. “We’re going to sustain a drive and we did that.”
Hundley engineered a seven-play, 73-yard series, including a picture-perfect pass to Janis down the right sideline for a 38-yard gain.
Janis turned out to be the favorite target of both Hundley and Hill, finishing with three catches for a game-high 63 yards.
Later in the drive, Hundley warned Jones he may be looking his way if Washington showed man coverage against the rookie running back.
The scenario played out and Hundley dumped a 5-yard pass into Jones’ lap, setting up his first career touchdown with 7:38 left in the first half.
“That was a good route for him, especially on the goal-line there,” Hundley said. “We talked about it before, going up to the line of scrimmage. He gave me a heads-up I’m going to be open on this and he had his first touchdown.”
Hundley was near-perfect on the evening, completing 9-of-10 passes for 107 yards with the touchdown to Jones for a 144.6 passer rating before giving way to Joe Callahan after the Packers’ opening series of the second half.
Hundley, who started last week’s 24-9 win over Philadelphia, has completed 68 percent of his passes in the first two preseason contests, fashioning a 101.6 passer rating with 197 passing yards, two touchdowns and one interception.
For Hundley, it felt good to get back into a groove after an ankle injury limited him to only one game and seven pass attempts last preseason.
“It was good to get the opportunity to get on the field and have some fun, play football and execute” Hundley said. “I think we went out there and did that today.”
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