Giants must respect Saints run game

December, 8, 2012
12/08/12
12:00
PM ET
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Yes, the Saints actually do run the ball.

And in the past five games, they've been quite good at it.

In their last five games, the Saints are averaging 119.8 rushing yards per game, which is over 27 yards better than what they are averaging for the season. An effective running game makes New Orleans' already potent offense even that much more high-octane.

"I think they got a nice dynamic running game. They got four running backs that can run the ball and they all got different (skill sets). Some guys are better in between the tackles, some are better outside," Giants cornerback Corey Webster said. "We have to be cognizant of whoever is the running back on the field at that time and his skill set and whether he's catching the ball out of the backfield or running the ball. We have to stop the run and it all starts up front."

The Saints are known more for relying on quarterback Drew Brees' arm to win games, but their running game has certainly come to life. In four of the past five games, they've rushed for at least 100 yards, and they've had three games during that stretch in which they went for at least 140 yards. New Orleans rushed for 101 yards its last time out against Atlanta.

The Saints lack a true No. 1 running back, but make up for it with four different weapons. Mark Ingram and Pierre Thomas have the most carries on the team, but Chris Ivory and Darren Sproles are quite effective as well. Giants linebacker Michael Boley said there isn't another player in the league like Sproles, who is listed as a running back despite catching 51 passes on the year, compared to just 26 carries.

Boley said the Giants have to be focused on stopping the run first, compared to just looking for Brees to drop back and throw it on every play. If a team goes in and just forgets about the run, New Orleans is going to pound the ball on the ground behind its talented offensive line.

Making matters worse for the Giants, they have been poor at stopping the run this year -- ranked 21st in the league, allowing 121.8 yards per game. The Redskins totaled 207 rushing yards on Monday night, and the Giants have talked about needing to be better fundamentally and execute. There were plenty of missed tackles and missed assignments that cost them in that loss.

For the Giants to try and slow down the Saints o Sunday, they're going to have to make sure they shut down the run game, or they will be in for a rough day.

"A lot of people talk about their pass game and that's what a lot of people focus on but they run the ball very effectively," Boley said. "They've got four backs that can run it, so they do a good job of putting those guys in different situations and they do a good job running."

Matt Ehalt

ESPN New York contributor

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