What it means: After an 0-4 start, the Saints are now 5-5 and that at least puts them on the fringe of the playoff picture. It still is going to take a pretty miraculous finish for the Saints to get into the postseason. But hey, a month ago, their season appeared to be over. At the very least, the Saints are going to remain relevant for the next few weeks. At best, they’ll make the playoffs and be one of the great turnaround stories in recent history.
Breakthrough moment? Since moving from cornerback in his second season, I’ve always thought Malcolm Jenkins had a chance to become one of the league’s top free safeties. He has all the physical skills and the work ethic. But for reasons I could never quite put my finger on, Jenkins hadn’t recorded an interception since 2010. That changed Sunday in a big way. In the first quarter, Jenkins picked off a pass and returned it 55 yards for a touchdown. Speaking of safeties who haven’t had a lot of interceptions recently, strong safety Roman Harper, who went through the entire 2011 season without an interception, came up with his second interception of the season. Looks like that Steve Spagnuolo defense, in which safeties are supposed to be safeties and not pass-rushers, might be starting to take hold.
Ingram’s not a bust: For the last season and a half, a lot of fans have been claiming that running back Mark Ingram, a first-round pick in 2011, was a bust. I’ve never thought that was the case. I thought he was just the victim of a very crowded backfield. That backfield still is crowded, but Ingram has had a few good games recently and he’s starting to stand out from the crowd. Sunday might have been his best game yet. He carried 12 times for 67 yards, including a 27-yard touchdown run.
What’s next: The Saints host the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday.