Patrick Robinson’s second-quarter interception of Tampa Bay quarterback Mike Glennon felt like a ball of relief for the struggling Saints cornerback.
And in the Sunday aftermath of a 37-31 overtime victory, Robinson said he realizes why he lost his starting job three weeks ago, forcing him to spend recent games on special teams or worse: inactive on the sidelines.
Robinson said he understands why he’s struggled to mimic his practice efforts on Sundays. Why he became one of the most criticized players by fans and media.
“I think I think too much,” Robinson said. “I’ve been playing not to give up the big play. I think that really hurt me as a player ... instead of just playing football, using my instincts and my talents.”
He did the later against Glennon, locating his 39-yard pass in the air before out-muscling Tampa Bay receiver Louis Murphy for position, spinning his body, and making the catch over his shoulder at the Saints’ 4-yard line in Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Robinson’s play was the Saints’ first interception of the season.
“That was huge,” Saints outside linebacker Junior Galette said. “That was a huge momentum shift for us when Patrick got it.”
Ironically, Robinson may not have been on the field Sunday for nearly as many defensive snaps had the Saints not lost free safety Jarius Byrd for the season after a knee injury at Thursday’s practice.
Robinson’s one play did not erase several weeks of defensive lapses, dating to the preseason. Still, it was a catch in the right direction.
“He played real good, absolutely,” said Payton, who one week ago watched Robinson sit out a 38-17 loss at Dallas.
Glennon finished with 249 passing yards and two touchdowns.
Robinson’s NFL football journey has taken many turns.
In 2013, he suffered a season-ending ACL tear during Week 2 at Tampa Bay.
By August, he had recovered, winning the starting cornerback job opposite Keenan Lewis over future Hall of Famer Champ Bailey, who was then released. At the time, Payton told reporters Corey White was better suited to defend in the slot than out wide.
Then a myriad of miscues led to Robinson’s in-game demotion at Cleveland, allowing White, a third-year pro, to earn a bigger role with the Saints defense. While all of the defense’s previous woes could not be blamed on Robinson, he had made more than his share of mistakes.
Meanwhile, Robinson said he relied on family and friends — even Payton — to recover from the demotion and any related mental anguish. He also confirmed that he met with Payton recently, when his coach created a presentation meant to inspire Robinson, the 32nd pick of the 2010 draft.
“That meant a lot,” Robinson said of Payton’s gesture. “That made me feel a lot better about myself, to be honest.”
Robinson finished Sunday with one tackle and two passes defended.
“Everybody tells me, I’m talented, I’m talented, but I have to believe in myself too,” he said. “(Sunday’s game)... it’s a step forward. I think I’m getting better as time goes forward. I’m going to have more confidence in myself.”