The Norman Transcript

National Sports

January 9, 2014

Run game solid for Saints

METAIRIE, La. — When Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman started studying video for this Saturday’s rematch with the Saints in the NFC playoffs, he noticed something different about New Orleans’ offense.

“They are running the ball extremely well and that is different from the game we played against them previously,” Sherman said, alluding to the Seahawks’ 34-7 demolition of the Saints on Dec. 2. “They are a confident bunch.”

The Saints, whose offense has been defined by Drew Brees’ prolific passing the past eight years, rushed for 185 yards in an opening-round playoff victory at Philadelphia last weekend.

Coach Sean Payton’s confidence in the ground game was never more obvious than when he called eight runs on New Orleans’ 10-play game-winning drive that chewed up the last 4:54 on the clock. The last seven plays consisted of six meaningful runs, followed by Brees’ keeper to the middle to set up Shayne Graham’s 32-yard field goal as time expired.

Mark Ingram, who has largely struggled to live up to the expectations that came with being a Heisman Trophy winner and first round draft choice, led the running game in the absence of Pierre Thomas — the Saints’ leading rusher this season but sidelined with a chest injury. Ingram rushed 18 times for 97 yards and a touchdown, averaging 5.4 yards per carry.

“He’s been running real well,” Payton said. “I liked his ball security the other night. Those aren’t always easy yards. I am pleased with how he is playing and I think he’s had a handful of games now toward the latter part of the season where he’s been exceptional.”

Indeed, though Ingram’s 386 total yards rushing during the regular season did nothing to distinguish him, he overcame early season injuries and appeared to get stronger as the season wore on, finishing with a respectable average of 4.9 yards per carry for the season.

In addition to Ingram, the Saints have been getting run production from rookie Khiry Robinson. He added 45 yards on eight carries in Philadelphia.

Breaking news, severe weather alerts, AMBER alerts, sports scores from The Norman Transcript are available as text messages right to your phone or mobile device. You decide which type of alerts you want to receive. Find out more or to signup, click here.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
National Sports
  • NCAA board endorses more autonomy for big schools

    INDIANAPOLIS — The NCAA’s board of directors took the first step toward shifting power to the five largest football conferences on Thursday, endorsing a 57-page plan that calls for giving 65 of the nation’s biggest schools more autonomy in ...

    April 25, 2014

  • Dice-K 1st save since 2000 as Mets hold down Cards

    NEW YORK — Daisuke Matsuzaka pinched his eyelids, clenched his teeth and thought back. He couldn’t remember all the details of the first save of his professional career....

    April 25, 2014

  • Pineda banned 10 games

    BOSTON — Michael Pineda says he was just trying to get a better grip on the ball. Now, he won’t need one for a while....

    April 25, 2014

  • Teague, Korver lead Hawks in win vs. Pacers

    ATLANTA — As the final seconds ticked off the clock, the Atlanta Hawks celebrated and their fans serenaded the Indiana Pacers with chants of “Overrated!” Game 3 did nothing to change that perception....

    April 25, 2014

  • Blazers return home in control

    PORTLAND, Ore. — Houston has a LaMarcus Aldridge problem. The Trail Blazers’ All-Star forward has been dominating with more than 40 points in each of the opening two playoff games with the Rockets in Houston. Portland is up 2-0 as the ...

    April 25, 2014

  • Ben Martin surges to Zurich Classic lead

    AVONDALE, La. — Ben Martin treated a tiny gallery to a course-record round, shooting a 10-under 62 on Thursday in the first round of the Zurich Classic....

    April 25, 2014

  • Record number sign up for U.S. Open

    FAR HILLS, N.J. — More people than ever have signed up for a chance to play in the U.S. Open. The USGA said Thursday it received a record 10,127 entrants for the U.S. Open, which will be played June 12-15 at Pinehurst No. 2....

    April 25, 2014

  • Nadal cruises into Barcelona quarterfinals

    BARCELONA, Spain — Top-ranked Rafael Nadal looked more like his confident self on the clay in passing Ivan Dodig of Croatia 6-3, 6-3, to reach the Barcelona Open quarterfinals on Thursday....

    April 25, 2014

  • Sharapova advances in Porsche Grand Prix

    STUTTGART, Germany — Defending champion Maria Sharapova defeated Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-4, 6-3 on Thursday to set up a Porsche Grand Prix quarterfinal with top seed Agnieszka Radwanska....

    April 25, 2014

  • Emmert seeks big changes to NCAA

    INDIANAPOLIS — Mark Emmert wants the NCAA to fast-track upgrades for college athletes — regardless of whether a player union is pushing for them....

    April 24, 2014