Mark Ingram waited patiently for his opportunity against the San Francisco 49ers. The New Orleans Saints running back was benched early in Week 8 after losing a fumble for the second consecutive game, and veteran Tim Hightower handled the workload in a win over the Seahawks. Head coach Sean Payton said at the beginning of the week that the Saints were going with a running back by committee approach, and stuck to his word.
Hightower started the day for the Saints, and Ingram didn’t see his first carry until 3:06 left in the first quarter. Little did we know, Ingram would end up having an incredible bounce back performance that ended with 158 yards on the ground from 15 carries and two total touchdowns. Deservedly so, Ingram ended up receiving a game ball after the team’s 41-23 victory.
Breakdown of yards gained on the 15 carries for 158 yards:
- 1st Quarter: 4
- 2nd Quarter: 7, 3, 75, 4
- 3rd Quarter: 19, 0, 0
- 4th Quarter: 14, 11, 4, 2, 3, 7, 5
Even if you take out the big 75-yard touchdown out of the equation, Ingram averaged 5.92 yards per carry against the 49ers run defense. Obviously, they were the worst run defense in the NFL coming in, but that doesn’t mean the offensive line and Ingram didn’t do their job.
Let’s take a look at Ingram’s biggest plays of Week 9. Note: All film is courtesy of NFL Game Pass via All-22 Coaches Film.
2nd Quarter (7-yard rush): Ingram runs off right guard Jahri Evans and cuts back to hit the hole. Senio Kelemete goes low on the defensive tackle, and Ingram kept his balance to extend the play.
2nd Quarter (5-yard touchdown catch): It was a designed screen call, and you’ll notice Ingram gets a big block from center Max Unger and has Jahri Evans out in front. Zach Strief also holds his defender enough to give Drew Brees the time.
2nd Quarter (75-yard touchdown run): Just about everything goes right on this play, as Ingram gets two key blocks from Jahri Evans and a big one from Zach Strief. Senio Kelemete pulls and negates his defender from getting into the backfield. The open lane they generate is a thing of beauty.
3rd Quarter (19-yard rush): Once again, the right side does the job, as Tim Lelito is brought in as the sixth offensive lineman in the Jumbo set. Zach Strief has a key block, while Lelito helps block his man. Also, Brandon Coleman is able to get a key block on Antoine Bethea to help spring Ingram.
4th Quarter (14-yard rush): Ingram sidesteps Zach Strief being locked up with the defensive tackle, and Jahri Evans is out in front to push the linebacker aside to open the hole. Also, Max Unger does a great job pushing his defensive tackle aside.
4th Quarter (11-yard gain): Solid job on Max Unger to lock up the linebacker, and Senio Kelemete pushes his man to the outside to spring Ingram to the second level. Michael Thomas does a good job blocking his cornerback down field.
4th Quarter (7-yard gain): Fullback John Kuhn takes care of the blitzing linebacker, while Senio Kelemete pushes his defender out of the way. Once again, Max Unger does a formidable job taking on the defensive tackle in his face.