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Saints’ ground game thriving heading into Seahawks matchup

Mark Ingram built on his late-season push with a big game last weekend (97 yards, TD).
Mark Ingram built on his late-season push with a big game last weekend (97 yards, TD).elsa/getty images

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METAIRIE, La. — When Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman started studying video for this Saturday’s rematch with the Saints in the NFC playoffs, he noticed something different about New Orleans’ offense.

‘‘They are running the ball extremely well and that is different from the game we played against them previously,’’ Sherman said, alluding to the Seahawks’ 34-7 demolition of the Saints Dec. 2. ‘‘They are a confident bunch.’’

The Saints, whose offense has been defined by Drew Brees’s prolific passing the past eight years, rushed for 185 yards in an opening-round playoff victory at Philadelphia last weekend.

Coach Sean Payton’s confidence in the ground game was never more obvious than when he called eight runs on the Saints’ 10-play, game-winning drive that chewed up the last 4:54 on the clock. The last seven plays consisted of six meaningful runs, followed by Brees’s keeper to the middle to set up Shayne Graham’s 32-yard field goal as time expired.

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