Justin Forsett has to wish he played the New Orleans Saints every week.
Forsett, the Baltimore Ravens running back, ran around, through and past the Saints defense Monday night, finishing with 22 carries for a career-high 182 yards, one of the main reasons the Saints fell 34-27 in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
Often, Forsett reached the second level of the Saints defense without a fight — his offensive line created huge paths for him, making his job easier. And he often made the first Saints defender miss, leading to even more yards.
His success ruined the Saints defense’s game plan against the Ravens, which started with eliminating their running game and forcing Joe Flacco to pass — exclusively — to win. But with Forsett averaging more than 7 yards per carry through the third quarter, Flacco had all the options available.
Not that the Ravens needed much more than Forsett.
By the time he scored on a 20-yard run with 2:53 left, many in the Superdome’s announced crowd of 73,303 had exited for what will be a long week of Saints disgust on local sports radio, throughout social media and in water-cooler conversations.
Forsett entered Monday’s game with 133 carries for 721 yards and five TDs, a more-than-suitable replacement for former Ravens running back Ray Rice, who was suspended indefinitely after a domestic violence case became very public after video of the incident reached the Internet.
“It is crazy when you think about where I was at this time last year — mostly doing a lot of scout-team work,” Forsett said. “I am just thankful for the journey I’m on. God has been faithful for me, and to just get the opportunity when I thought I would never get it again, it’s a blessing.”
Forsett has allowed Baltimore (7-4) to keep moving forward, which on Monday included moving Saints defenders out the way. His first score, a 13-yard run early in the second quarter, gave Baltimore a 14-7 lead.
And to think Forsett entered the 2014 season — before Rice’s legal issues — as a presumed backup and little more.
Now he’s one of the NFL’s top rushers and the latest player to run over the Saints defense, a unit that seemingly every week finds another reason, another way to lose. This time, missed tackles made a strong-running Forsett look even stronger. He broke tackles at the line of scrimmage, broke more in the open field and danced in the end zone.
“When you get a lot of opportunities like I’ve been getting, it allows you to get into a rhythm. I think that was the case tonight,” he said. “We were able to get something going early. And then we kept it going all the way thru the fourth quarter, so we all definitely enjoyed that rhythm.”