The outbursts were sudden and seemingly difficult to contain, not unlike Reggie Bush with a football in his hand. For the first few weeks of his NFL career the Heisman Trophy--winning Saints rookie would blurt swear words at odd moments, bemoaning his inability to reach the end zone. Usually this would happen when Bush was alone, often in the middle of the night. But sometimes, he said last Friday, he'd curse himself "at some totally random moment, and the people I'm with will look at me all weird."
Bush can stop working blue. On Sunday, on his 100th touch as a pro, Bush made his first NFL touchdown a special one, racing 65 yards on a punt return with 4:17 left, to give the surprising Saints (4--1) a 24--21 victory over the Buccaneers at the Superdome.
After watching the player who starts ahead of him, two-time Pro Bowl running back Deuce McAllister, carry the Saints' offense through much of the game (15 carries for 123 yards), Bush seized the spotlight when New Orleans, trailing 21--17, needed him most. He field ed Josh Bidwell's punt at the Saints' 35, took a few steps to his right, eluded a tackler and, picking up a key block from tight end Nate Lawrie, made a smash-cut down the sideline, beginning a race to the end zone that Bush knew he'd never lose. "Once I make a cut like that it's over," he said, after finishing with 161 all-purpose yards, including 63 on 11 receptions. "At that point all I've got to do is run."
As Bush celebrated with teammates in the end zone, he spied a penalty flag in the middle of the field and feared he had more frustration in store. "The ref was shaking his head like, Bring it back," Bush recalled. "My heart just stopped. I thought, I guess it's not meant to be." But the penalty was a face-mask call on the Bucs' Torrie Cox, leaving delirious Saints fans to chant, "Reg-gie, Reg-gie," and Bush, at last, to get a good night's sleep.
ALEX BRANDON/AP (BUSH)
Bush's first pro touchdown won the game and eased his troubled mind.