Bradley Handwerger / WWLTV.com Sports Reporter
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Mark Ingram kept churning his legs, head down and trying to bull through the right side of the Saints’ offensive line on a key fourth-and-one play late in the third quarter.
Don’t make the conversion and give the Jaguars, down only 10 points, the ball in New Orleans territory with renewed life.
But a friendly push from a teammate helped Ingram get over the proverbial hump, giving the Saints a first down.
Seven player later, John Kasay hit his third field goal of the day, the final score in a 23-10 Saints win over the Jaguars.
“I think one of my linemen pushed me in the butt, pushed me over,” Ingram said. “My legs were keeping going, but somebody pushed me and helped me over the top.”
It was just one of 34 running plays for the Saints (3-1), but it was a confidence-building one.
The Saints finished the day with 177 yards rushing with a 5.2 yard per carry average. Darren Sproles finished with 75 yards on seven carries while Ingram had 55 yards on 17.
Meanwhile, the Jaguars (1-3) finished with only 104, a key statistic Saints coach Sean Payton wanted to win heading into Sunday.
“We outrushed them and that was a goal for us,” Payton said. “We thought that’d be critical. Statistically if you look at their history playing at home, they’re about an 85 percent winner when they win the rushing battle.”
Added Ingram, “You heard about their front seven stopping the run, not bringing too much pressure and just flat out stopping the run. To be able to run the ball like effectively on a front seven like that is encouraging.”
But it’s plays like the fourth-down conversion that could help in the future.
Left guard Carl Nicks said it’s all about confidence.
“I think our confidence that our coach has in us gives us confidence to even call that, let alone execute it,” Nicks said.
As for the offensive line helping Ingram on the play, Nicks won’t take the credit.
“He’s being generous,” Nicks said. “That was all him. I remember pulling and thinking, ‘Man, this is a lot of bodies in here.’ And then he’s over there. That’s the Heisman for you right there.”