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NEW ORLEANS 24, TAMPA BAY 21

Bush Scores on 65-Yard Return

October 09, 2006|From the Associated Press

NEW ORLEANS — With a few waves, Reggie Bush beckoned the crowd to its feet as he awaited a critical punt. Soon, he would have all of them standing.

Shut out of the end zone in his first four games as a pro, Bush took the punt 65 yards for a touchdown with under five minutes left Sunday to lift the New Orleans Saints to a 24-21 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

"When you see Reggie take those high steps, you know he's bound to make something happen," Saints defensive end Charles Grant said.

The celebration was interrupted briefly while referees sorted out a flag thrown against the Buccaneers.

"Once I turned that corner I was just trying to turn on the jets," said Bush, who also finished with 23 yards in nine carries and caught 11 passes for 63 yards. "It was so wide open the slowest guy in the world probably could have scored that touchdown. The monkey's off my back now."

Peppered with questions recently about whether he was frustrated or pressing, Bush responded that he did not care about scoring as long as the surprising Saints, now 4-1 and atop the NFC South, kept winning. They may not have beaten Tampa Bay if not for him.

"He's a guy who can change games, and today he changed one," Saints Coach Sean Payton said.

The runback spoiled an impressive effort by Tampa Bay (0-4), which rallied from a 10-point deficit to take the lead in the second half.

"I tip my hat to Reggie Bush," Tampa Bay Coach Jon Gruden said. "He lived up to his expectations today. Shame on him."

Deuce McAllister finished with 123 yards in 15 carries, including a 24-yard touchdown run, for the Saints. He had 117 yards in the first half.

Tampa Bay rookie quarterback Bruce Gradkowski -- playing in place of Chris Simms, who had surgery for a ruptured spleen -- completed 20 of 31 passes for 225 yards and two touchdowns.

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