this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; Anthony Hargrove blew it. The New Orleans Saints defensive tackle, who had just helped the Saints cement their 30-20 victory over the Carolina Panthers on Sunday with a forced fumble and touchdown return in the final minutes, tried to celebrate ...
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|11-09-2009, 09:50 AM||#1|
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Anthony Hargrove blew it.
The New Orleans Saints defensive tackle, who had just helped the Saints cement their 30-20 victory over the Carolina Panthers on Sunday with a forced fumble and touchdown return in the final minutes, tried to celebrate the win in his usual way, by leaping into the stands and embracing the fans.
But he ran toward the wall in the back of the end zone and came up short.
Undeterred, Hargrove walked back to the goal line, geared up and tried again, this time reaching his mark.
"That first leap, my toe kind of caught the wall a little bit. I had to set myself and get my mind right, " said Hargrove, who then started to revise his excuse. "Actually, what happened was, I don't think the fans were ready. They were still cheering. I think if I would have went in there, they might not have been ready for me. . . . There was a little girl there. I might have hurt her."
Complete game coverage
New Orleans Saints defeat Carolina Panthers for best start in franchise history
Jeff Duncan: Each week a new hero emerges
Duncan's postgame video log
John DeShazier: Saints keep playing with fire
Grading the Saints' performance
Recapping the game
Jake Delhomme suffers first loss at Superdome
Scoring summary (with photos)
If anyone knows about making the most out of second chances, it's Hargrove, who had admittedly hit rock-bottom in his life and football career last year.
He was suspended for a full year by the NFL after a series of substance-abuse violations and arrests, and by his account, he was down to his last second chance when the Saints signed him in May.
But so far, the 26-year-old has made the most of it, rewarding the Saints with a valuable role player with a knack for making big plays.
"Usually by this time of year I'm in jail or been arrested or failed a drug test or something. If you look back, that's how it is. I get about a month in and go AWOL, " Hargrove said. "It's November, I haven't been arrested, I haven't failed a drug test. Seriously, I have to call a spade a spade. That's my reality. I'm in a very new place right now."
Hargrove also had to absorb the loss of a close friend Friday, whom he said was shot and killed in Buffalo.
"This is crazy. Honest to god. Just making a play like this once a week, it's a blessing, " said Hargrove, who recovered two fumbles Sunday -- one forced by defensive end Will Smith earlier in the fourth quarter -- and scored the first touchdown of his career. "It's crazy. I come out here and I just try to play. For me, it's a blessing. I don't think I've played this well, this consistent."
Hargrove has been filling in as a starter since Sedrick Ellis went down with a knee injury in Miami two weeks ago. He immediately responded with two sacks against the Dolphins and had another sack last week against Atlanta.
He said the touchdown, though, was probably the biggest play of his career, which began as a defensive end in St. Louis and Buffalo.
Hargrove was being held up by a blocker when he reached over to strip the ball from tailback DeAngelo Williams. Then he hit the turf and picked up the bouncing ball, and he ran it in 1 yard for the touchdown trifecta.
"Just being in position to make a play like that, it was awesome. I knew nobody else saw (the loose ball), so I just picked it up and kind of hobbled into the end zone, " Hargrove said.
"I'm no Sedrick Ellis by any stretch. I just started playing defensive tackle this year. I'm just in here trying not to be a weakness for our defense."
THE 'DRIVE': It became an afterthought once the Saints ran off the field with a 10-point victory, but the Saints' 13-play, 76-yard field-goal drive midway through the fourth quarter was easily the most intense possession of their season.
With the score tied at 20, the Saints took over at their 2-yard line with 11:19 remaining.
Up until that point, New Orleans had gained just 50 net rushing yards through three quarters. But once again, the Saints won the physical battle up front in the fourth quarter.
First came a 2-yard run by Pierre Thomas, then a 17-yard gain by Thomas on a short pass, then a 6-yard run by Thomas, a 10-yard gain on a short pass to Reggie Bush, a 12-yard run by Thomas, a 6-yard run by Thomas, a 5-yard gain by Bush on a pass, a 3-yard run by Mike Bell, then a 21-yard pass to Robert Meachem.
The result was five first downs in a span of nine plays.
The drive stalled after that, thanks in part to a holding penalty by guard Jahri Evans. But the Saints had moved into a position for John Carney's 40-yard field goal, which gave them a 23-20 lead with 4:36 remaining.
"We wanted to establish that in the second half, get the run game going more and really take it to these guys so we could open up the pass, " said Thomas, who ran for 50 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries and caught five passes for 31 yards. "We talk all the time about finishing. Finishing runs, finishing catches and finishing games."
INJURY REPORT: Saints Coach Sean Payton said cornerback Jabari Greer's strained groin was the only significant injury in the game. Greer came up gimpy after a long pass incompletion in the fourth quarter. He left the game and did not return. Payton said the injury did not appear to be serious.
Randall Gay replaced Greer in the regular lineup and rookie Malcolm Jenkins took Gay's spot in nickel and dime packages.
The Saints' inactive list consisted of Garrett Hartley, Chase Daniel, Lance Moore, Leigh Torrence, Lynell Hamilton, Scott Fujita, Nick Leckey and Ellis.
WORTH NOTING: Second-year defensive tackle DeMario Pressley appeared to handle himself well in his first career game after being activated from the practice squad. He made two tackles, one of them for a loss. . . . Rookie punter Thomas Morstead had one of the best and one of the worst punts of his brief career. He shanked one that bounced backward for a total net of 22 yards in the second quarter. But he pinned the Panthers back on their own 2-yard line with help from Jenkins and Courtney Roby on a 48-yard punt in the final minutes. . . . Defensive end Charles Grant made a cameo appearance at defensive tackle, something he worked on throughout the offseason.
WORTH REPEATING: Safety Roman Harper, a proud Alabama product, couldn't resist rubbing it in to LSU country after the win.
"It's good to be a winner, " he said. "Sort of like Alabama."