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New Orleans Saints have leaned on run game during two-game winning streak

Saints have run 73 times for 286 yards and two touchdowns in wins over Atlanta, Cleveland

Check out the New Orleans Saints game action in Week 16 against the Cleveland Browns during the 2022 NFL season.
Check out the New Orleans Saints game action in Week 16 against the Cleveland Browns during the 2022 NFL season.

The New Orleans Saints have seen that there's prosperity in the grind.

Entering Sunday's game against the Eagles (13-2) at Lincoln Financial Field, the Saints (6-9) in their last two games have been able to put into practice what they have preached: On offense, it begins and ends with an effective running game.

In New Orleans' 21-18 victory over Atlanta, the Saints pounded the Falcons for 134 rushing yards on 34 attempts. And in their 17-10 road win against Cleveland, with the team playing in the coldest conditions in franchise history, the Saints hammered away at the Browns for 152 yards and two touchdowns on 39 carries.

This season, only once has New Orleans had more rushing attempts in a two-game span: 48 carries for 235 yards and three touchdowns in a 39-32 win over Seattle on Oct. 9, and 34 carries for 228 yards and a touchdown a week later in a 30-26 loss to Cincinnati.

"I think it's huge," guard Calvin Throckmorton said. "The ability to control the game like that and be able to run the ball effectively is huge in terms of opening up the offense and our playbook, in terms of play action, and being able to take shots down the field when we're able to.

"It's our belief that everything goes through the run game in our offense, and along the offensive line whoever is in there, we take a lot of pride in being able to do that at a high level."

"I think that's been an important part of what we've been able to do the last couple of weeks, is kind of get the run game going and be able to lean on the run game a little bit," Coach Dennis Allen said. "I think it's really about getting those rushing attempts.

"I think we had close to 40 rushing attempts in the game (Saturday). I think when you're at your best is when you're able to run the ball and run the ball effectively and run it 40 times, then obviously you're keeping your defense off the field, you're limiting the amount of time the opposing offense is out there and I think that's a big part of having success."

The two-game run ended a five-game stretch in which New Orleans didn't have more than 29 rushing attempts and 88 rushing yards in any game. The Saints were 1-4 during that stretch.

On Saturday against Cleveland, Allen said it was imperative to not abandon the running game despite the fact that New Orleans fell behind 10-0.

"I think that's important, because the run game is more about staying with it and staying committed to it," he said. "It's difficult to do in a game when you're down 10-0 but yet, we stayed committed to it and it ended up paying off for us in the end."

Also, it has been a bit of a resurgence for running back Alvin Kamara, who has 41 carries for 167 yards and a touchdown in two games. Kamara also has caught four passes for 47 yards.

Mix in Taysom Hill (16 carries for 86 yards and a touchdown, and two completions in as many attempts for 80 yards and a touchdown), and the Saints have presented a formidable one-two punch.

"We want to make sure that we're doing everything we can as an offensive line to put guys in the right spots and put guys in good position," Throckmorton said. "We take a lot of pride in that as well. Whoever it is back there, we're trying to push ourselves to make sure that we can be effective on the ground, especially in a game like it was on Saturday. It becomes pivotal and crucial to be able to do that effectively, so we were happy to be able to get that going."

The Saints will need more of the same Sunday against the Eagles, who allow 120 rushing yards per game.

"That's the goal each and every time we go out there, is to be able to run the ball at a high level – especially at this point in the season," Throckmorton said. "That's what's going to be able to separate the playoff teams from others. We absolutely consider ourselves a playoff team, so that's going to be our goal and we're excited for the challenge that Philly is going to present come Sunday."

Check out the New Orleans Saints game action in Week 16 against the Cleveland Browns during the 2022 NFL season.

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