Saints marching along

MIKE KOREEN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 11:26 AM ET

America's team has two good stories to share.

While the New Orleans Saints have received heaps of praise for maintaining their focus in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the players figure they also deserve credit for a nice run that started long before they were relocated to San Antonio during training camp.

Quietly, the Saints have put together a five-game winning streak, featuring victories in their final four contests last season and a last-minute 23-20 triumph over the host Carolina Panthers in their season opener.

"It's just unfortunate that we're part of the 32 teams in the NFL and it takes a national disaster for the media and NFL to show us some love," Saints quarterback Aaron Brooks, whose team narrowly missed the playoffs at 8-8 last season, told the New Orleans Times Picayune.

"That's really uncalled for. There are a lot of great players on this football team and we're a team in the middle of the pack that deserves attention."

The Saints, who announced this week they will play three home games in San Antonio (where they have been practising) and four home games at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, La., will face more adversity Monday when they play their first "home" game of the season against the New York Giants at the Meadowlands.

While New Yorkers are sure to back their Giants, the Saints seem to be winning over fans in strange places. Last week, the Saints received a hearty round of applause from Carolina fans. This week, the Saints sold 50,000 tickets for the San Antonio games on the first day of sales. And with the NFL raising funds for the battered region during the weekend and Giants Stadium displaying Saints colours and playing host to New Orleans musicians, Brooks and Co. are bound to receive some love.

"I'm hearing we are supposed to be the new America's team," Saints receiver Joe Horn said. "That's fine because that's what America's all about. It's about people bonding together."

Brooks, who has been a target for frustrated Saints fans, has elevated his game and was 18-for-24 last week. He has made 70 consecutive starts, putting him behind only Peyton Manning and Brett Favre in active starting streaks for quarterbacks.

Old friend, new enemy

New Dallas Cowboys quarterback Drew Bledsoe will match up against his former boss Monday when the Washington Redskins come to Texas Stadium.

Redskins defensive co-ordinator Gregg Williams coached the Buffalo Bills during the first two of Bledsoe's three non-playoff seasons in Orchard Park, N.Y. Williams, who wasn't the answer in Buffalo, has done well in Washington, where his defence was ranked third in the league last year.

"Facing Gregg's defence was never a treat even just in practice when we were up there in Buffalo," Bledsoe said. "Facing them for real this Monday night isn't going to be a treat, either."


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