It was not exactly an epiphany, but the proof is in the results. While the Atlanta Falcons kept winning week after week in 2016 and advancing to the Super Bowl with a fast attack offense and a fast demon defense, New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton was definitely paying attention.
Payton looked across the line at the defense of the Falcons – deer athletes in each position – and probably decided that the Saints, to avoid being swept by the Falcons as they were in 2016, would have to change course to compete for a title of the NFC South.
That means, if you can not escape them, run over them.
The 9-3 Saints will travel to Atlanta on Thursday night for a critical divisional test against the 7-5 Falcons – the first of two games against Atlanta in three weeks – and The Saints have committed to hit the race to control the clock and remain efficient, allowing Drew Brees to shoot when he wants to instead of when he needs it.
The backfield tandem of Mark Ingram II and Al Vin Kamara has been virtually unstoppable this year, and the two backs accounted for 248 yards of scrimmage in a 31-21 victory over the Carolina Panthers on Sunday in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome
Look for the Saints to try to set the game running north-south again on Thursday night.
"They can run," Payton said of Dan Quinn's defense. "I think that's the only thing in the movie, they're fast in every position, I think (Keanu security), Neal has played extremely well, I think they rush the passer-by very well, and if you get on the third try, (see) A lot of the things we saw happened in Seattle (when Quinn was the defensive coordinator of the Seahawks) "
Ingram did not practice on Tuesday because of a toe injury, but he is expected to play against the Falcons. Against an eight-man front last Sunday, Ingram caused a man to miss the line of scrimmage and ran 72 yards for the second longest race of his career.
Ingram, who has won 922 yards and scored nine touchdowns in 180 carries, said he and Kamara, a Tennessee third-round pick, are simply doing what they're paid to do: give the Saints 2017 more balance so that each game does not rise or fall on the right shoulder of Brees.  "I felt it was a possibility if we executed the ball," Ingram said. "I only know that the offense is open, and it puts us in a primary position to make plays It's crazy how it's happening this year I've been preparing well and the offensive line, receivers, tight end, fullback (they also have). I still want to be there more and take the ball more, but it's working and there are enough touches for both of us. "
Kamara has scored in six consecutive games and ranks third in the NFL among runners with 59 receptions. The rookie has 1,220 total yards and 11 touchdowns and is averaging 8.4 yards per touch.
Kamara's biggest move last week was to convert a fourth bet and Carolina 2 goal on a touchdown by throwing a big hit from linebacker Shaq Thompson – it's not an easy feat – scoring standing in the first series of the game .
"It was a (heck) of a career for Alvin Kamara," said Saints defensive end Cam Jordan. "Nine times out of 10, if it had been anyone else, they would have gone down." Your balance is amazing. That's what really separates him from many different riders. "
" What really missed me is his balance, "Quinn added." I do not know how many missed tackles you can track on a player, but I would bet he would have one of the highest (numbers). "
The Saints They can also retrieve rookie cornerback Marshon Lattimore from a sprained ankle, which would bolster his coverage against Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones.The Saints are giving up just 17.9 points in nine of their last 10 games.
One loss at home 14-9 against the Minnesota Vikings last week broke the Falcons 'three-game winning streak.The Falcons averaged 27 points in all three wins but held on to three field goals for the Vikings' strong defense.
Atlanta cornerback Desmond Trufant, who is a different player like Lattimore, has been eliminated from his concussion symptoms and should play against the Saints.But from left guard Andy Levitre has a Triceps partially torn and can not play.
"We have to turn the page fast to get to New Orleans," Quinn said. "We are back in our division, everything is there for us, we know it."
The Falcons converted just 1 of 10 third-down attempts against Minnesota, and many of them were long-distance situations, which distorted the chances of success, Quinn said.  "My most important question is how (hell) we go into third and 12 and third and 17 and third and 13," Quinn said.
The Falcons swept the Saints last year, winning 45 -32 in New Orleans and 38-32 at home.