Off of his best game of the season, Saints running back Mark Ingram appeared on “Face to Face” with Hannan Storm on ESPN this morning.
Ingram rushed 14 times for 146 yards and a touchdown and caught a 21-yard touchdown pass in a huge performance in the 49-21 win over the Los Angeles Rams last Sunday.
Ingram said he was inspired by a pre-game talk.
“Our assistant coach, Dan Campbell, gave us a great speech the night before the game,” Ingram said. “Just how guys thrive off of each other. So I just wanted to be physical, run with a lot of intensity and bring energy to my team, offensively and defensively. Whenever you’re running the ball physically, you have explosive plays in the run game, I think it brings energy and life to your entire team.”
During the game, the hashtag “Angry Mark” was trending on Twitter.
“Man, that’s funny,” Ingram said. “I try to run angry all the time. I try to bring a lot of physicality to my running style. That’s funny. Angry Ingram. I like it. It sounds kind of good. I’ll take it.”
Ingram opened the second half with a huge 61-yard run which set up the 21-yard touchdown pass from Drew Brees to make it 35-21
“It was a play that we’d been working all week preparing for it,” Ingram said. “It’s kind of an unbalanced formation. We put our right tackle on the left side, outside of Terron (Armstead) and they had a great block. Kuhn went up and pried the hole wide open for me. I almost tripped, I almost stumbled through the hole. It was so big. At that point, I saw open space and just tried to use my speed and try to make a big play for us. I’ve got to thank my coaching staff and offensive line for making that play happen for me. They made it easy for me.”
Ingram lost two key fumbles in successive games, the second in a win over Seattle on Oct. 30. He was benched. Since then, he has come back strong, averaging over eight yards per carry.
“Man, I’ve always been one not to shock from adversity,” Ingram said. “Some things are not always going to go your way. It sucks bad when you have two games where you fumble at key moments of the game.”
Ingram understands the responsibility he carries every time he carries the football.
“At running back, you’re carrying the entire dreams and aspirations of your entire team, your coaches, your teammates, every single person that is in this organization,” Ingram said. “I don’t take that responsibility lightly. I wanted to be able to bounce back strong and be the player that I really can be and do the things that I can make happen when I’m on my game. That was my main focus. I just wanted to bounce back strong for my teammates.”
Ingram was able to turn counselor and teacher when prized rookie wide receiver Michael Thomas fumbled twice in a loss to Denver on Nov. 13.
“I told him he was good, I said man you’re good, Keep you head up, it’s going to be alright” Ingram said. “You’re an animal, you’re a great player, we need you. I told him that the next drive that we were going to need him, that we were going to go down, that we were going to score a touchdown and win the game. We scored the touchdown but unfortunately, the PAT got blocked.”
Ingram reassured Thomas that things would turn out well.
“That’s what I told him, I told him to keep his head on and we’re going to need him,” Ingram said. “He’s a great player for us and he’s going to be a great player in this league for a long time. I told him not to let it hold him back, that everything was going to be okay.”
With the Saints in third place in the NFC South, Ingram knows that the Saints played well against the Rams but have a long way to go.
“We need to continue to improve, we need to continue to get better,” Ingram said. “We just had a great win Sunday but we have to continue to improve. There’s lots of things that we need to polish in order to give ourselves a chance to make a playoff push.”
Ingram understands that the Saints have no room for error if they want to make the playoffs.
“Realistically, we have to win all of our games,” Ingram said. “The schedule is not to be taken lightly. We’ve got Detroit coming up here 7-4, leading their division. Every single day, we’ve just got to win the day and continue to improve. We have great leadership on this team. I just try to lead by example and bring a lot of energy to our team so we can continue to improve.”
This weekend is a special weekend around the NFL as the league will allow players to wear cleats for their chosen cause. Ingram already knows what he will be wearing.
“I’m wearing my foundation cleats, the Mark Ingram foundation,” Ingram said. “It deals with children with incarcerated parents. That’s something that’s very important to me, something that’s very close to my heart. My father had been incarcerated for a number of years of my life.”
Ingram described the cleats he will wear.
“I’m wearing some cleats that symbolize my foundation, a picture, an animation of a child reaching for the stars and have a great relationship with their parents, regardless of their situation,” Ingram said. “My dad’s my hero. I love him to death. This is something that’s very close to my heart and that I want to bring awareness to.”