Saints catch a break

ROB LONGLEY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 6:58 AM ET

SAN ANTONIO -- The mariachi band outside the Alamodome welcomed NFL football to the city by playing a lively version of When The Saints Go Marching In.

Inside, it may as well have been a death march for the bumbling Buffalo Bills and perhaps the team's anointed leader, quarterback J.P. Losman.

The Saints finally got a dose of good feelings following a month of despair, physically dominating the Bills in a 19-7 win.

Though the loss was complete, Losman was benched for the fourth quarter with the Bills trailing 13-7. Whether it has legs or not, the inkling of a quarterback controversy has begun, a plot that always plays well in Buffalo.

"I'm not happy, you're never happy when you are pulled," said Losman, who saw the Bills slip to 1-3 under his watch. "I'm trying not to take it personal. It's just tough.

"(Coach Mike Mularkey) said he was looking for a spark. It's something you'll have to ask him."

For the record, Mularkey was adamant afterwards that Losman, who completed seven of 15 attempts for 75 yards, is still the starter. That decision was no doubt simplified when his replacement, Kelly Holcomb, was the antithesis of spark, flaming out in relief.

The doubt is in the minds of some Bills players, however, after seeing the guy who was Drew Bledsoe's ticket out of town get the hook in two of four games.

"We're going to have to make a decision at some point," said receiver Eric Moulds, who had just two catches for 14 yards yesterday and was fingered by Losman for running the wrong route in a costly interception.

"Is it going to be J.P., leave him in there and let him learn? Or are you going to put Kelly in and see what happens?"

Playing before the closest thing to a "home" crowd since Hurricane Katrina uprooted the lives of all things New Orleans, the Saints responded to the love.

The 56,688 in attendance did what good home crowds do, firing up the Saints on defence, making life annoying for Losman and company.

"From the time we stepped out of the locker room, they were really into it," receiver Donte Stallworth said of the crowd. "They embraced us and I thank them for that."

The Saints also could blow a thank-you kiss to the Bills, who generously added to the comfort level. Despite infrequent blitzes, Losman was sacked three times and hurried often.

The backbreaker for the Bills offence was on a fourth and one at midfield early in the fourth quarter. Running back Willis McGahee was stopped for a two-yard loss on the play and you could have buried the Bills, who have yet to score a second-half touchdown this season, right there.

There were costly penalties on both sides of the ball and the once-proud Bills defence is anything but. Well aware the Saints would run, the Bills couldn't stop Deuce McAllister, who sliced through for 130 yards on 27 carries.

The D also couldn't contain quarterback Aaron Brooks, who ran for 33 yards and completed many of his 15 pass attempts in scramble mode.

After winning six of its final seven in 2004, a season that began in optimism is running out of steam in a hurry.

"I'm shocked," Moulds said. "The way we finished last year, we were making plays. This year, we can't get anything started."


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