OAKLAND, Calif. (Sept. 1, 2005) -- Joe Horn planned to head for Houston with the intent of helping one refugee family hurt by Hurricane Katrina.
He'll go by limo, van or rental car.
Across the country from their devastated city, the New Orleans Saints somehow played a competitive football game when it's probably the last thing some of them wanted to do -- and then they turned their thoughts to assisting those in need and reuniting with family members over the weekend before returning to work Monday.
"It's not just the people in the (Astrodome), there are people in hotel rooms, 12 at a time with families piled on top of families, and they won't have the financial means," Horn said. "I'm going to stay there two days and see if I can help them out. I know I can't help everybody, but I'm going to try my best because I love the fans there and in Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi."
Transported 2,000 miles to California on Sunday, the Saints avoided the wrath of one of America's worst storms and prepared for this game under the sun at San Jose State University despite all the uncertainties back home.
A moment of silence was held before the game, and about 100 people turned out for a last-minute blood drive sponsored by the Raiders and the American Red Cross outside the Coliseum. The Raiders made a donation to the Red Cross and also ran public service announcements in the stadium, on their Website and on their broadcasts encouraging people to help hurricane victims.
Players from both teams held a prayer circle when time expired.
"Everybody on our team is heartbroken," Saints coach Jim Haslett said. "They feel for the people. I think the one thing about our football team is that we're resilient. When we step on the field, we're focused. When we get off the field, our minds go somewhere else."
Afterward, the Saints flew all night to San Antonio with no idea when they'll go home -- or whether they even still have homes. Their temporary home will be the Marriott Riverwalk.
John Carney kicked field goals of 38 and 37 yards, but also missed a 38-yarder in the third quarter for New Orleans. He was patted on the back by holder Todd Bouman when the ball sailed wide left. Bouman started at quarterback and completed 13 of 20 passes for 120 yards.
|The Saints marched on, but their thoughts were on their ravaged community.|
New Orleans came into the game hoping to improve its run defense and appeared to make strides, limiting Oakland to 61 yards after allowing 151 yards to Baltimore's Chester Taylor in a 21-6 loss to the Ravens.
The Saints (1-3) celebrated good plays and were businesslike from warmups to the final tick of the clock. They don't yet know where they will play their home opener Sept. 18 against the New York Giants.
The Raiders (1-3) earned their first exhibition victory exactly a week before they open the season in a nationally televised game at Super Bowl champion New England.
Moss scored his second TD of the preseason in the only series he played and also had a 9-yard reception before taking a seat. Collins and almost all the other starters also played only one series.
"The first drive was good," Moss said. "One thing that we wanted to do was get out there and get ourselves ready for next week. With everything that we have gone through as far as training camp, preseason and today's game, we are headed in the right direction."
The Saints never considered not playing this game, even with heavy hearts.
"I wouldn't say it's overwhelming," said general manager Mickey Loomis, who doesn't know whether the team will play in New Orleans again this season. "They understand they have a job to do. They know their families are safe. Once you know your family is safe, you go back to your business. What's overwhelming is what's going on in New Orleans, Mississippi and the entire Gulf Coast."
In the seats behind the Saints sideline, New Orleans resident Chad Seeger held a sign reading, "The Dome will rise again!" -- a reference to the Louisiana Superdome, which became a temporary refugee camp for thousands of the city's stranded citizens, but was heavily damaged in the storm.
Seeger came to California last week for vacation and was supposed to fly back Monday, when the hurricane hit. He is staying with his girlfriend and her family in San Francisco.
Another Saints fan, New Orleans native Jimmy Lashley, held a sign reading, "Forget, Iraq. Help our own."
Third-string Oakland quarterback Andrew Walter, a third-round draft pick out of Arizona State, returned after missing the previous two exhibition games with a strained groin. He went 13-for-20 passes for 221 yards, including a 52-yard completion to Johnnie Morant.
- The Saints expect a truck to arrive in San Antonio carrying any supplies such as computers and equipment that could be salvaged from team headquarters.
- Oakland's Chris Carr returned the opening kickoff 101 yards, but an illegal block penalty called it back.
- Raiders receiver Carlos Francis caught one pass, playing for the first time against the very team Oakland was playing when he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee last Oct. 24 and then had surgery.