BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) – Nick Saban brought another defensive masterpiece to Tiger Stadium, spoiling the New Orleans Saints’ return to Louisiana.

Gus Frerotte had a touchdown pass to Chris Chambers and the Dolphin defense recorded a safety in a 21-6 victory over New Orleans on Sunday. Miami allowed only two field goals and kept Saints quarterback Aaron Brooks off balance throughout in snapping a three-game losing streak.

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 on 17 carries. Ronnie Brown rushed for 106 yards for the Dolphins.

Miami got in the end zone only once, but Olindo Mare’s four field goals made that more than enough.

While Paul Tagliabue offered hope to those in Louisiana who’d like to keep the state’s NFL franchise, the Saints, losers of four straight, did little to leave their fans hopeful about this season.

Brooks was intercepted once, sacked six times and often jittery, twice fumbling without being touched – though he recovered both.

An announced crowd of 61,643 loudly welcomed the Saints back to Louisiana, routinely rocking Death Valley as LSU fans do. A sign with a fleur-des-lis read: “Welcome Home Saints.” Another read: “Forget the Alamo,” a reference to San Antonio, where the Saints have temporarily relocated since Hurricane Katrina.

NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue commended Louisiana fans for their longtime support and promised that the NFL would make a concerted effort to keep the Saints in the state.

“The Saints are Louisiana’s team and have been since the late 60s,” Tagliabue said. “Our focus continues to be on having the Saints in Louisiana.”

The campus around the stadium was a sprawling encampment of tailgaters, much as it is for LSU games. Many wore wearing LSU purple and gold, some with screen printing that read: “Welcome Home Nick.”

And the crowd clapped in synch and roared when the LSU band took the field shortly before kickoff, playing “Hold That Tiger,” a customary pre-game tradition in Tiger Stadium.

Saban, who coached LSU to a BCS national championship two seasons ago on the shoulders of a dominant defense, led the Dolphins onto the field to a mixture of applause and some unfamiliar boos. But by the end of the game the boo birds had turned their wrath upon the Saints’ stagnant offense.

Brooks was 14-of-31 for 181 yards. More than half of that went to Joe Horn, who returned form a hamstring injury to make seven catches for 99 yards.

Frerotte was 16-of-28 for 168 yards with one interception.

Trailing 9-3, New Orleans was in position to come back after Darren Howard caused and recovered Frerotte’s fumble on the Miami 29, but the Saints once again stalled. John Carney salvaged the drive with a 49-ard field goal to make it 9-6.

Miami took an 11-6 lead late in the third quarter, needing only a three-man rush to sack Brooks in the end zone for a safety, with Kevin Carter getting credit for the tackle, and his second career safety.

AP-ES-10-30-05 1943EST

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