Tacky? Not really, but even if you think so, the broom former Carolina Panthers wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr., held postgame Sunday was quite a statement.
Ginn was the Panthers’ best option for stretching defenses vertically. He was also past 30, and wanted to get paid big to remain with the Panthers. So then-Carolina general manager Dave Gettleman passed, and Ginn signed with the New Orleans Saints.
That looked like a really bad call in the Saints’ 31-26 playoff victory Sunday over the Panthers at the Superdome. Ginn made a huge play in the first quarter, an 80-yard catch for the first touchdown of the game. It was a blown coverage by the Panthers’ secondary, according to both Ginn and quarterback Drew Brees. But it became more than just a chunk play because Ginn is still such a burner.
The broom — it was fellow ex-Panther A.J. Klein’s idea — represented the Saints sweeping the Panthers, 3-0 this season. Three of the Panthers’ six total losses this season were inflicted by the Saints, who now advance to a Sunday divisional-round road game against Minnesota Vikings.
How important was it for Ginn, who played some of the best football in his NFL career in two Carolina stints, to remind Panthers management what they cast off?
“Very important,” Ginn said. “To go (against) a team that pretty much said that you weren’t really a factor for them, to come out here and be an X factor, to rise through games, that really did it for me.”
He really did it to the Panthers. Ginn wasn’t even the primary receiver in the play called. By his own description, his role was to be a decoy. But there was some confusion in the Carolina secondary, which Brees recognized, and it was the ideal opportunity to exploit Ginn’s breakaway speed.
“I seen Kurt (Coleman) come down, and I knew I had a chance,” Ginn said of the Panthers’ flubbed coverage. “I got to my spot, Drew found me, and the rest was history.”
Ginn said it was actually in the back of his mind that Brees might not have the arm strength to catch up with all the separation he had created.
“Oh, yeah, for sure. It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve run out somebody’s arm,” Ginn said. “You’ve got to know the ins and outs. Whether to be a burner or not. Drew and I worked day-in and day-out this season on different things.”
Ginn had been a resource of sorts to both the Saints offense and defense this week, offering nuances of what he knew about his former teammates’ tendencies. He said all that institutional knowledge made a difference in his performance Sunday (four catches for 115 yards and that touchdown).
“For sure,” Ginn said while fiddling with that minibroom like it was a walking stick. “I played with those guys for many years — minicamps and (training) camps. You kind of pick up on what they want to do.”
Ginn said it was obvious quickly that the Panthers’ defense was fixated on defending the run, versus the Saints’ Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram. Brees finished with 376 passing yards (23 of 33, including a 7-of-7 start). He threw for two touchdowns, and was intercepted once.
“They knew we had a great running game. They were going to put high effort into (stopping) the run. We were just trying to get ourselves open for Drew. We knew we’d have to be the guys.
“We know what we’ve got in this room. With a guy like Drew, no matter (the score), you’re in the game. We just tried to go out and be in the right spots at the right time.”
Klein couldn’t play Sunday, due to a sports hernia. But he did come up with the broom idea, which made for quite the celebration postgame.
“To go out and sweep a divisional opponent like that three times, “ Ginn reflected.
“Everybody should get a broom.”