In five seasons with the Cleveland Browns, the postseason might as well have been a rumor to linebacker Craig Robertson.
From the 2011 to 2015 seasons, he was always a spectator and never came close to being a participant. The 2016 season, his first with the New Orleans Saints, was more of the same.
‘It’s an unbelievable feeling’
But all of that changed this year, with the 11-4 Saints clinching their first playoff spot since 2013 with Sunday’s 23-13 victory against the Atlanta Falcons.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling,” Robertson told Bill Lekas on the Sunday Drive. “It’s probably the best Christmas gift I’ve gotten in a long time. But it’s even more special to enjoy with the guys. Everybody has just put so much time into this season and it’s special to experience this with everybody.”
‘Guys didn’t go out of their circle, go out of their talent to do anything extra’
The Saints have their typically strong offense, which ranks second in the NFL. But it is their surprisingly impressive play on a defense that is 15th in the league that has done plenty to get them into the postseason. That defense showed up again by shutting down the Falcons’ high-powered offense.
“We just executed what we were supposed to do,” Robertson said. “Guys didn’t go out of their circle, go out of their talent to do anything extra. Guys just focused on doing their job and that was the whole key, just to do your job and just keep playing and guys did it. It was awesome.”
‘We were doing a good job of keeping them in longer-yardage plays’
Did he sense any frustration from the Falcons?
“Yeah, a little bit,” the linebacker said. “They wanted to get the run game going and we were doing a good job of keeping them in longer-yardage plays on second and third down. That was our goal coming in and that’s what we accomplished.”
‘(Lattimore’s) a Pro Bowler, so that’s what we expect from him now’
Standout rookie cornerback Marshon Lattimore did an excellent job of helping the Saints’ coverage to limit dominant receiver Julio Jones to seven catches on 11 targets for 149 yards. Lattimore, who at times handled Jones one-on-one, had an interception that set up a touchdown.
“We don’t even get surprised by that stuff anymore,” Robertson said. “He’s a Pro Bowler, so that’s what we expect from him now. Even though he’s a rookie, he’s on top of that rookie class when it comes to stats and all that stuff. In my opinion, (he deserves NFL) Defensive Rookie of the Year. And he’s been playing like it.”