SAN ANTONIO (AP) -- Aaron Brooks saw an opening and bolted.
Crossing the goal line just ahead of a defender, he spiked the ball
and raised his arms to celebrate.
That's when he heard it: the deafening roar of a crowd cheering
for the New Orleans Saints.
And for one Sunday afternoon at least, San Antonio and the
Alamodome felt like home for Brooks and his nomadic teammates.
"From the time we stepped out of the locker room going out
there to warm up, they really were into it," said Brooks, who
scored the Saints' only touchdown in a 19-7 win over the Buffalo
"They were excited about us being here and they embraced us,"
Brooks said. "We thank them for it."
Hurricane Katrina forced the Saints from their home at the
Superdome in New Orleans and into a cross-country journey with
three home games scheduled for the Alamodome and four others closer
to home in Baton Rouge, La.
After opening the season on the road, their first "home" game
was a Monday night loss against the Giants at the Meadowlands in
The Alamodome was clearly a more comfortable venue.
Tens of thousands of gold pompoms were distributed to the 58,688
in attendance at the 65,000-seat stadium. Fans used to cheering the
NBA champions San Antonio Spurs did the wave and deafening chants
of "Dee-Fense" forced the Bills (1-3) to take a delay-of-game
penalty in the first quarter.
"It was a mix of New Orleans people and San Antonio people,"
Saints coach Jim Haslett said. "I think you saw the result. It
helped our football team."
By the fourth quarter, the crowd was on its feet when the Saints
stuffed Willis McGahee on fourth-and-inches, taking possession for
a drive that would lead to Carney's third field goal, making it
16-7 with 5 minutes left.
"We're still the New Orleans Saints," Stallworth said. "New
Orleans is still cheering for us and we have San Antonio on our
side as well."
But it wasn't just the crowd that made a difference for the
Saints. After committing 10 turnovers in their previous two games,
the Saints had none against the Bills and generally negated the
sloppy play they showed on the road.
"That's the difference in every ball game," Brooks said. "We
didn't do that today."
The Bills, meanwhile, continue to struggle behind first-year
starting quarterback J.P. Losman, who was handed the reins of the
offense over veteran Drew Bledsoe, who left the team and is now the
starter in Dallas.
Losman was 7-of-15 for 75 yards with an interception and three
sacks before he was replaced by Kelly Holcomb at the start of the
fourth quarter. The Bills have just two touchdowns in their last 14
quarters and managed just 208 total yards Sunday.
"I'm not happy. You're never happy when you're pulled," Losman
said. "I'm trying not to take it personally ... but it's tough."
Bills coach Mike Mularkey said Losman will remain his starter.
"J.P.'s the starter, and I'm going with J.P.," Mularkey said.
"I think everyone understands that."
Losman looked sharp early, rushing for 23 yards and passing for
28 as the Bills drove 75 yards for a touchdown on their first
possession. The quick 7-0 lead looked like it might take the crowd
out of the game.
"It kind of gives you the sense we should have been doing that
more and more," Mularkey said. "After the first drive we really
couldn't put anything together."
But then Losman misfired badly with a throw into double coverage
in the second quarter and Jason Craft returned the interception 39
yards. That set up Brooks' 4-yard touchdown run that gave the
Saints a 10-7 lead. Brooks dropped back to pass before he spied an
opening and slipped across the goal line in front of Troy Vincent
and spiked the ball.
Carney's 40-yard field goal with 13 seconds left in the half
made it 13-7.
The Bills nearly retook the lead in the final seconds of the
half when Terrence McGee returned the ensuing kickoff 82 yards,
crisscrossing the field and ducking through defenders before he was
finally tripped up inside the Saints 5 after time expired.
"That was huge," Brooks said. "If that guys scores, that
would have taken a lot of air out of us."
Joe Horn, New Orleans' leading receiver, missed just his
second game since 2000 when he was scratched from the lineup with a
sore right hamstring ... Katrina also spoiled a potential
homecoming for Losman, who played in college at Tulane .... City
officials had hoped a sellout would help push San Antonio's case as
an NFL-worthy area, but there were large sections of empty seats.