SAINTS 31, RAIDERS 26
OAKLAND, Calif. - Coach Jim Haslett gathered his special-teams players together and told the Saints they were about to line up for one of their most important kickoffs of the season.
A rookie took it to heart.
Moments later, Colby Bockwoldt scooped up Carlos Francis' fumble on the kickoff and ran it 6 yards into the end zone for what turned out to be the deciding score Sunday in New Orleans' 31-26 victory over the Raiders that snapped the Saints' three-game losing streak.
"That was pretty nice," said Bockwoldt, who made a similar play last season while with BYU. "We practice these drills, fumbles. You don't have time to think about it. My eyes were on the goal line."
His big play made it 31-19 only 14 seconds after John Carney kicked a 41-yard field goal for the Saints with 4:31 left. Oakland charged back down the field to score again - on Jerry Porter's first touchdown catch of the season with 2:34 left - making the special teams' performance so critical.
"I told them field position was going to be big, and try to stick them inside their own 20," Haslett said.
It took New Orleans nearly a half to get a first down. Once the Saints finally found a little success, they practically did whatever they wanted.
Deuce McAllister ran for two short touchdowns, Aaron Brooks threw for 282 yards and a touchdown, and Joe Horn had nine receptions for 123 yards.
Jerome Pathon added six catches as the Saints used a strong second half to send the Raiders to their fourth straight defeat.
"That's all we needed, to get a first down," said Brooks, who was 23-for-39 with a 4-yard TD pass to Lamont Hall. "Once we got into the groove, we were able to take it to them."