METAIRIE, La. -- Mark Ingram has gained more than 5,600 yards from scrimmage, scored 38 touchdowns, won a playoff game and gone to a Pro Bowl since his first trip to Lambeau Field.
But he hasn’t erased the memory.
Ingram and the New Orleans Saints came 1 yard short in his first NFL game against the Green Bay Packers in 2011, when the rookie first-round draft pick got the ball -- and got stuffed -- on the 1-yard line with no time left on the clock and the Packers leading 42-34 in the marquee Thursday night opener.
"I'll never forget that game or that play. It’s part of my story,” said Ingram, who is eager to go back Sunday and try to get his first career win in his third visit to Green Bay when the red-hot Saints take their three-game win streak into Lambeau Field.
"I'll never forget that game ever in my life. Kickoff [game], rookie year. A goal-line carry to win the game, that’s something you dream about as a kid growing up,” Ingram said. “It didn't turn out the way that I wanted it to, but it's something that I'll always look back on, especially going back to Lambeau. I want to redeem myself.
“I definitely want to go back to Lambeau and have a success story as opposed to the last couple times I've been there.”
Ingram said he didn’t feel quite as bad about the run stuff after he watched the tape. “It would’ve been a rough one to get in there for anybody,” Ingram said. “We ran a blast up the middle, they cut the offensive line and the linebackers jumped over the top.”
Still, he shook his head as the replay played through his mimd. “It was tough, man.”
That play feels like a distant memory now that Ingram has established himself as one of the best running backs in Saints history (he moved into second place in career rushing yards this season).
But it was a signature moment in the early part of Ingram’s career, when he took a couple years to hit his stride.
The Heisman Trophy winner from Alabama struggled to find his place in a crowded backfield that included the likes of Pierre Thomas, Darren Sproles and Chris Ivory. He battled some minor injuries during his first few seasons, and he never took to that short-yardage, base-running role that he was stuck in.
It was a lot like the Adrian Peterson experiment we witnessed in New Orleans over the first four games of this season.
But credit Ingram for showing the resilience to grow into an every-down back who has gained more than 1,100 yards from scrimmage in each of the past three years.
“I’m happy to see that I fought through a lot of adversity and a lot of situations that weren’t ideal,” the 27-year-old said. “I’m just patient, I try not to get frustrated. Because I was getting frustrated a lot in my younger years. Just not having the success that I anticipated, and just hearing things that people would say.
“But I had older guys, [Marques] Colston, [Robert] Meachem, Sproles, that were there for me ... coaches, guys that just uplift you and keep your confidence. It’s also just how I grew up. My father [former NFL receiver Mark Ingram] and my grandfather, how they raised me, how they raised me to compete. You’re never as good as they say you are, you’re never as bad as they say you are.
“I just stayed fighting, keep working, keep competing. And that’s all I know, man. So that’s what I’m gonna keep doing.”