Ingram-Kamara tandem blossoms in Saints’ win over Lions
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Saints running back Mark Ingram wasn’t entirely happy with his end zone dance, saying it wasn’t quite TV ready.
Ingram was pleased, however, to have scored twice in a 52-38 triumph over Detroit on Sunday and see the normally pass-happy Saints win a game with more yards on the ground than through the air.
Ironically, the Saints’ run-heavy triumph came on the heels of a decision to trade Adrian Peterson to Arizona after the veteran star running back had appeared in only four games. The move allowed the Saints to focus more play-calling for running backs on Ingram and versatile rookie Alvin Kamara, whose skills perhaps fit better in the “West Coast” style offense designed and called by coach Sean Payton.
“We wanted to take advantage of the opportunity,” Ingram said. “We wanted to prove that we can carry this team running the ball, receiving the ball and being playmakers for this offense.”
The tandem combined for 237 yards from scrimmage. Ingram had 114 yards rushing on 25 carries, and 36 yards receiving on five catches. Kamara gained 75 yards on 10 carries and caught four passes for 12 yards. The Saints (3-2) had 186 yards passing against Detroit (3-3).
Ingram said he wasn’t surprised the running game thrived with focus of the game plan narrowed from three running backs to two.
“When you’re in, out, down a series, maybe two series, you just don’t stay warm. You just don’t stay in the flow of a game,” Ingram said. “Any running back in this league will tell you that when they touch the ball, when they carry the ball, they feel well. They feel like they’re getting a rhythm and that’s when you have success.”
By the same token, Ingram was not surprised Peterson rushed for a season-high 134 yards and two TDs on 26 carries the same day, rather conveniently helping Arizona beat Saints division rival Tampa Bay.
“We just had three great running backs in one room and we were trying to get everybody into a rhythm,” Ingram said. “I’m glad to hear what Adrian’s doing in Arizona. We’ve been telling you all along that he’s still got the juice, so I’m glad he’s out there proving it.”
Here are some key story lines that emerged from the Saints’ wild win over the Lions:
RESILIENT STAFFORD: Lions QB Matthew Stafford, noticeably hobbled by an injured right ankle, was sacked five times, hit often and had about a dozen passes deflected. The result was five turnovers on three interceptions and two fumbles . The Saints defense scored on three of the turnovers.
Still, Stafford said he “absolutely” never considered leaving the game. And the Lions, who were down five TDs in the third quarter, threatened to pull off the largest comeback in NFL history.
“That is the attitude that our team has. That is the attitude that I have,” Stafford said. “No matter how I am feeling, I am going to be out there and trying to help us win.”
Stafford finished with 312 yards passing and three touchdown passes, helping Detroit close within one TD with nearly seven minutes left.
SURGING SAINTS: Looking lost after a pair of double-digit losses to start the season, the Saints have now won three straight by no less than two touchdowns. They are above .500 for the first time since 2013, the last time they made the playoffs.
“At 0-2, you have a chance to either fold up and cry about it or you can come to work and try and turn the ship around,” Ingram said. “We just have a lot of good guys in this locker room.”
WELCOME BYE: Stafford made it clear Detroit’s Week 7 bye is coming at a good time — not just because of his ankle. Safety Glover Quin was knocked out of the game with a head injury. Left tackle Greg Robinson left the game with an ankle injury and wore a protective boot. Receiver Golden Tate, who had a 45-yard TD among his seven catches for 96 yards, left the game with a shoulder injury in the second half.
“He was playing at a high level today,” Stafford said. “Sorry to see him to go off the field with whatever he has got, but he is a big part of our offense. He is a really talented player. He worked the middle of the field great today and made some big plays.”
GETTING DEFENSIVE: Payton credited the Saints defense for bailing the team out of “dumb” mistakes on offense and special teams. The Saints defense set a franchise record with three scores, none bigger than end Cam Jordan’s late interception of a pass he defected to himself for a touchdown. Those scores made the three TD’s the Saints defense allowed a virtual wash.
“That’s what we’ve been missing as a team,” Jordan said. “We’ve always had a potent offense ... and our defense is finally playing how they should be.”