"Picking your poison" is an expression that usually refers to trying to stop a multi-faceted opponent in one area at the expense of another, hoping that the balance sheet will work out in the end.
But when an explosive offensive team like the New Orleans Saints shows the ability to pound the ball between the tackles as well as get to the edge, it may be the case of NFL defenses choosing between arsenic, hemlock or cyanide.
The Saints rushed for 148 yards Sunday in a 31-21 beating of the Carolina Panthers, and rookie Alvin Kamara and veteran Mark Ingram II cobbled together 248 yards from scrimmage in dominating a very good defense.
Kamara, whom the Saints traded up to select in the third round of the 2017 draft, has stamped himself as perhaps the leading candidate for offensive rookie of the year. He not only has the ability to get to the edge, but there is a smoothness to his gait that makes it appear as though he may not be moving that fast.
But he is.
Late in the game with New Orleans leading 31-21 and trying to run out the clock, Brees threw a simple screen to Kamara in the slot. The rookie dashed 22 yards across the field to put the game away, finishing off the move by hurdling a tackle.
"I was thinking, please land on your feet and not on your head," Brees said.
"There was a design and Alvin was able to get man coverage," New Orleans head coach Sean Payton said. "He's smart. He's a guy that understands football and knows how to line up in some different spots, and he works at it. ... The guys up front did a good job. The runners had some big plays, and it's part of playing well as a team."
Ingram took a simple handoff off right tackle early in the second quarter and raced 72 yards to the Carolina 12, the second-longest run of his career. Ingram does most of his damage inside the tackles, but in the last two seasons, he's shown an ability to get to the edge and make defenders miss.
"They have been getting the best of us, especially in big games," Ingram said. "We put an emphasis on we were going to be the bullies. We were going to hit them in the mouth."
Ingram said his 72-yard run was so well-blocked it was "wide open."
"I tried to hit the hole as fast as I could and hit the end zone," Ingram said. "They were sleeping on my speed, so I have to put the burners on them every now and then. I was trying to get my Alvin Kamara mode and get my matrix on."
Kamara said he appreciates learning from Ingram.
"It is one of those things where you see how someone prepares all week," Kamara said. "He performs the way he practices. He runs like that during practice. I wasn't surprised. I was just hyped."
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