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Saban Feels at Home

October 31, 2005|From Associated Press

BATON ROUGE, La. — Miami Dolphin Coach Nick Saban trotted off the field to applause, kissed a few women on the cheek, hugged other fans and signed autographs.

The former Louisiana State coach was triumphant again in Tiger Stadium, spoiling the New Orleans Saints' return to playing in their home state.

"It's been wonderful. I really do feel like this was coming home to play a game, and it was exciting for me even though I didn't say it [earlier]," Saban said. "It was exciting to be back in Tiger Stadium, and I feel really great that our team did a nice job to make us proud of how they played."

The Dolphins' 21-6 victory over New Orleans on Sunday was the type of defensive masterpiece that Saban made commonplace here when he won a bowl championship series national title two seasons ago. His defense gave up only two field goals, recorded a safety and kept Aaron Brooks off-balance in ending a three-game losing streak.

Gus Frerotte connected with Chris Chambers for Miami's only touchdown, which ended up being more than enough with Olindo Mare's four field goals. The Dolphins also scored on a safety.

Ricky Williams also showed signs of a return to form for the first time since his NFL comeback, battering tacklers as he gained 82 yards in 17 carries. Ronnie Brown rushed for 106 yards for the Dolphins (3-4).

An announced crowd of 61,643 loudly welcomed the Saints back to Louisiana for the first time since Hurricane Katrina, routinely rocking Death Valley as LSU fans do.

But the Saints (2-6), losers of four in a row, did little to leave their fans hopeful about the season, and Coach Jim Haslett criticized his team afterward.

"Right now we are a bad football team," Haslett said. "If anybody on this football team quits, or doesn't practice hard, or play hard, I promise you I will cut them."

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