NEW ORLEANS — For seven weeks, Chris Ivory sat on the sideline, his patience growing thinner and thinner as he watched the Saints run game founder.
And as the weeks piled on, New Orleans’ vocal and passionate fan base grew louder and louder in their calls for Ivory to get on the field.
Monday night, in the Saints’ 28-13 win over Philadelphia, the fans got their wish and so did Ivory, who raised eyebrows with 48 yards, including a 22-yard touchdown gallop, on 10 carries.
“Yeah, it felt good,” Ivory said. “I feel like you’ve always got something to prove. But they (the coaches) know what I’m capable of. It’s just all about getting on the field. I don’t think it was about proving anything. It felt good just to score and allow them to see what I could do.”
Ivory’s first touch came on New Orleans’ first play of the second quarter. It was a nine-yard gain around right end and, as the bulk of the 73,099 fans in attendance realized who it was, cheers grew audibly louder.
His second touch was even better.
Brees handed Ivory the ball on a counter play. Good blocking on the right side of the line opened up a gaping hole in the Eagles’ defense and Ivory did the rest. He dashed between blocks and then sidestepped Philadelphia’s David Sims, racing into the end zone for the Saints’ first offensive touchdown of the game.
Instead of spiking the ball, he ran down the end line, pointing the football at the fans, the same ones who had called for him throughout the first half of the season.
“He’s one of those unique back that can make the first guy miss or he can run over him,” acting Saints head coach Joe Vitt said. “He’s grown as a back. He’s more secure in the offense. Obviously, we trust him as a back. We like Chris. It was exciting to see him run well.”
Ivory led the Saints in rushing in 2010 with 716 yards on 137 carries. Last season, he finished with 374 yards on only 79 carries.
He just had to be patient this season, something he said was “very hard.”
“It’s been tough. It’s definitely been tough,” Ivory said. “No guy wants to sit back but in the program we have, that’s just how it is. We’ve got five backs. I guess with them not really knowing what they want to do, everybody can’t get touches.
“It’s just one of those things where I have to be patient, sit back and allow the coaching staff to gather their thoughts and whatever it is they want to do.”