NEW ORLEANS - The injury bug eventually comes for everyone, even Mr. Invincible himself in Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson.
For the first time since Seattle drafted him in 2012, the Seahawks played without their beloved No. 3 under center last week. Wilson was injured the week prior against the Los Angeles Rams and is now on injured reserve, forcing Seattle to give the reins to backup quarterback Geno Smith — who started his first game since 2017 in a loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday.
Because Wilson was placed on injured reserve, Smith will be the one to face the New Orleans Saints in their Monday night clash this week, which prompts the question: How have the Saints fared against backup quarterbacks in recent years?
The answer is complicated and depends on the definition of "backup."
Calling Philadelphia's Jalen Hurts a backup is a stretch considering the body of work he's pieced together since late last season, but that's technically what he was when he torched New Orleans in his first career start after the Eagles benched Carson Wentz last year.
Does Denver's Kendall Hinton count from last season's sham of a game against the Broncos? Sure, the practice squad wide receiver got the start at quarterback against the Saints and completed one pass, but it feels disingenuous to include this one.
Do we count Minnesota's Case Keenum from the "Minneapolis Miracle" game? Technically Sam Bradford was the Vikings' starter at the beginning of the season, but Keenum had started 14 games during the regular season while Bradford was on the sidelines.
With all of those asterisk-worthy outings in mind, here's a rundown of all the quarterbacking performances against the Saints, since 2017, that were performed by someone who wasn't the original starter:
Jalen Hurts — 2020: Week 14 at Philadelphia
Eagles fans had been clamoring for a changing of the guard at quarterback for a while before the Saints came to town. Wentz wasn't performing at the level he had been previously, eclipsing 300 yards passing just once in 2020. The week before New Orleans traveled to Philadelphia, the Eagles benched Wentz in favor of the rookie Hurts.
Hurts dominated the Saints, running for 106 yards on 18 carries and adding 167 yards passing in Philadelphia's 24-21 win.
Kendall Hinton — 2020: Week 12 at Denver
The Saints came to Denver prepared to face second-year signal caller Drew Lock, but all of Denver's quarterback options landed on the COVID-19 list after they were declared close contacts with COVID-positive quarterback Jeff Driskel.
Denver called upon Hinton, an undrafted rookie practice squad receiver who had played quarterback in college at Pittsburgh. Hinton got the start at quarterback, but there wasn't quarterbacking going on that day. He completed 1-of-9 passing for 13 yards and threw two interceptions in the win for New Orleans.
Nick Mullens — 2020: Week 10 vs. San Francisco
Three weeks before the Saints and the 49ers were due to square off, starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo suffered a high-ankle sprain. Mullens started three games before he faced the Saints, completing 24 of 38 passes for 247 yards with two interceptions and one touchdown in New Orleans' 27-13 win.
Nick Foles — 2020: Week 8 at Chicago
Chicago's quarterback situation had been drawing the ire of Bears fans for some time, and just two weeks into the season the Bears benched Mitch Trubisky in favor of Foles. Foles' sixth start of the year came against the Saints in a game that is more well-known for Javon Wims' sucker punch to C.J. Gardner-Johnson's helmet. Foles completed 28 of 41 passes for 272 yards with two touchdowns and an interception in the contest that New Orleans won in overtime.
Will Grier — 2019: Week 17 vs. Carolina
Starter Cam Newton injured his foot early in the season, which gave the reins to Kyle Allen to start for most of the year. In the final game of the regular season, Carolina's third-string quarterback Grier got the start (his second of the season) instead of Allen, but Grier ended up playing just 24% of the snaps because he left the game with a foot injury. He completed 1-of-8 passing for 4 yards, while Allen went 25-of-41 passing for 295 yards in New Orleans' 42-10 win.
Ryan Tannehill — 2019: Week 16 at Tennessee
Starter Marcus Mariota was benched after Tennessee's 16-0 loss to the Denver Broncos, which gave Tannehill a starting spot again. Tannehill started in eight games after that before facing New Orleans. In a loss to New Orleans, Tannehill completed 17 of 27 passes for 272 yards with three touchdowns and five sacks.
Kyle Allen — 2019: Week 12 vs. Carolina
In Allen's ninth start of the year after Newton suffered his foot injury, he kept it close in New Orleans, completing 23 of 36 passes for 256 yards with three touchdowns. New Orleans won, 34-31, after kicker Wil Lutz made a field goal at the buzzer.
Gardner Minshew — 2019: Week 6 at Jacksonville
After moving on from Philadelphia, Nick Foles went to Jacksonville and was named the starter for the Jaguars. That was short-lived after he broke his collarbone in the season opener. The Jaguars went with the rookie Minshew under center after that. His fifth start came against the Saints, and he put together one of his worst performances of the season in the loss, going 14 of 29 for 163 yards.
Kyle Allen — 2018: Week 17 vs. Carolina
Both teams played backups in the regular-season finale, with New Orleans looking to Teddy Bridgewater and Carolina going with Allen. With a considerable bunch of New Orleans' starters getting rest, Carolina pounded New Orleans, 33-14. Allen completed 16 of 27 passes for 228 yards with two touchdowns.
Ryan Fitzpatrick — 2018: Week 1 vs. Tampa Bay
With Jameis Winston relegated to the bench due to a three-game suspension stemming from an allegation that he groped a female Uber driver, Fitzpatrick carved up the Saints' secondary. He pieced together one of the best games of his career, completing 21 of 28 passes for 417 yards with four touchdowns for a near-perfect passer rating of 156.2 in Tampa Bay's 48-40 win.
Case Keenum — 2017: Playoffs at Minnesota
Vikings starter Sam Bradford played only two games before injuring his knee. Keenum started the rest of the season, leading the Vikings to the playoffs. Keenum completed 25 of 40 passes for 318 yards with one touchdown pass and one interception in a game that'll forever live in the nightmares of Saints fans.
Bryce Petty — 2017: Week 15 vs. New York Jets
Petty's first start of the season came against New Orleans after Josh McCown broke his hand the week before. He completed 19 of 39 passes for 179 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions in what was a 31-19 win for New Orleans.
Brett Hundley — 2017: Week 7 vs. Green Bay
Aaron Rodgers rarely misses games, but the 2017 season wasn't kind to the future Hall of Famer. Rodgers fractured his collarbone the week before the Packers played the Saints and needed 13 screws to fix the damage. In the interim, the Packers turned to their backup in Hundley. In his first start of the 2017 season, Hundley completed 12 of 25 passes for 87 yards with an interception. New Orleans went home with the 26-17 win.
Jay Cutler — 2017: Week 4 vs. Miami
Tannehill play in a single game for the Dolphins in 2017, but he was named the starter before the season began. Tannehill tore his ACL during offseason training, and free agent quarterback Jay Cutler filled the void. In his fourth start in Miami, Cutler completed 20 of 28 passes for 164 yards with an interception. The Saints blanked the Dolphins 20-0.