Mark Ingram didn't cut himself any slack after Sunday's win over the Chicago Bears.
Ingram, who fumbled twice in the fourth quarter while the Saints were trying to salt away the game, told reporters he had "sucked" in the postgame press conference, even after picking up 75 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries, plus six catches for 24 yards.
Blunt self-evaluations like Ingram's aren't always available, and Saints quarterback Drew Brees said Wednesday he didn't think Ingram "sucked," but the veteran running back wanted to be honest about the way he felt.
"I'm going to be tough on myself, I'm going to be hard on myself, because the goals and aspirations I have for myself are way loftier and way higher than anybody else can imagine," Ingram said.
Ingram, the seventh-year back who has been one of the driving forces for the Saints' offense during the team's five-game win streak, knows exactly how important those carries are late in the fourth quarter.
"Situationally, you’re carrying the ball and carrying everyone’s hopes and dreams, not just your own," Saints coach Sean Payton said.
The good news is Ingram has a history of bouncing back from adversity with some of his best games.
Ingram ripped off 158 yards against the 49ers the week after he was benched for fumbling against Seattle last season, and the week after he suffered a concussion on Thursday night against Carolina, Ingram gained 146 yards against the Rams.
"You can sit there and cry or pout about it, perform bad and let things go downhill, or you can get up and fight and try to overcome it," Ingram said. "Every man gets knocked down in this life, it's all about how you get up."
Ingram has spent plenty of time this week trying to correct his mistakes.
"Each time you carry it, you make sure it's high, make sure it's tight, make sure when you're going through traffic it's covered," Ingram said. "Individual drills, doing different drills in between periods. Just trying to make sure it doesn't happen again."
Fumbles aside, Ingram has an opportunity for a big day Sunday against a Tampa Bay defense that gave up 160 rushing yards to the Cardinals three weeks ago and 173 rushing yards to Buffalo two weeks ago before limiting the Panthers to 100 yards last week.
And ever since the Saints traded Adrian Peterson to Arizona, Ingram has been on a tear. Ingram has 294 yards on 65 carries in the past three games, averaging 4.5 yards per carry for New Orleans, which has relied more on the run this season.
The Saints has run the ball on 43 percent of their plays so far, the team's highest percentage since it ran the ball 44 percent of the time during the Super Bowl season. The percentage has risen to 48 percent during the Saints' five-game winning streak.
"We've wanted to put an emphasis on running the ball the past few years," Ingram said. "I think that's been a commitment from the team, from the coaching staff, how they've been scheming things."
Brees has plenty of confidence in Ingram to come back and hit the ground running against Tampa Bay.
"There’s not a guy that I care about more on this team than him or that I know is as prideful about what he does,' Brees said. "He is the heart and soul of this team."