Bush Impressive As Saints Beat Browns

By TOM WITHERS
The Associated Press
Sunday, September 10, 2006; 6:27 PM

CLEVELAND -- Reggie Bush strolled down the hallway toward the team bus wearing a backpack, blue L.A. Dodgers baseball cap and smile. He looked like a college kid headed home from class.

School may be over for Bush. His pro education has just begun.

On Sunday, he passed his first test.

"I would probably give myself a 'B,'" he said. "I didn't get in the end zone."

Bush didn't dazzle but he certainly didn't disappoint in his pro debut. He and Drew Brees led the rebuilt New Orleans Saints to a season-opening 19-14 win over the Cleveland Browns on Sunday.

Bush, whose arrival in New Orleans has given the city's football fans renewed optimism in the wake of Hurricane Katrina's devastation, finished with 141 total yards. The Heisman Trophy winner had 61 yards rushing on 14 attempts, caught eight passes for 58 yards and returned three punts for 22.

He never got loose on one of the trademark breakaways he made commonplace at Southern California, and a few times he would have been better off falling down than trying to escape tacklers.

Although he didn't score, Bush helped get the Saints off to a winning start in this season of rebirth.

"I just wanted us to get a win," Bush said. "I wasn't focused on anything else. This was a perfect first step."

John Carney kicked four field goals, the last one with 5:42 remaining, and Brees, who signed a six-year, $60 million free agent contract in March, threw a 12-yard TD pass to rookie Marques Colston in the third quarter.

The Saints also got 90 yards on 22 carries from Deuce McAllister, making his return after missing the final 11 games last season following knee surgery.

New Orleans didn't clinch rookie coach Sean Payton's first win until the final two minutes, when safety Josh Bullocks intercepted a pass that deflected off the hands of receiver Braylon Edwards in New Orleans territory.


CONTINUED     1        >

© 2006 The Associated Press