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Bush scores four TDs in best performance

Dec 3, 2006 - 10:08 PM NEW ORLEANS (Ticker) -- Alex Smith saw this type of performance from Reggie Bush plenty of times in high school.

In the best showing of his young career, Bush rushed for three touchdowns and caught another score as the New Orleans Saints pulled away for a 34-10 victory over the San Francisco 49ers.

After winning the Heisman Trophy at Southern California, Bush was drafted second overall in April's draft and entered the NFL being compared to the legendary Gale Sayers.

While he has excelled as a receiver, Bush came into Sunday's game with one rushing touchdown and one punt return for a score in his first 11 games.

But Bush turned back the clock to the days when Smith - the Niners quarterback - and him were teammates at Helix High School outside of San Diego.

"Me and Alex go way back together," Bush said. "I got to talk to him a little bit before the game. We joked around a little. We hadn't talked in a while, since the beginning of the season.

It was great today to be competing with him on the other sideline. I've been following him and rooting for him since he got into the league. He's a great competitor. He's going to do great things with that team."

In the first half, Bush had touchdown runs of one and eight yards in the second quarter, helping the Saints to a 14-3 lead. He caught a five-yard TD off a shovel pass in the third quarter and completed his big day with a 10-yard scoring jaunt in which he dove over the goal line with 11:18 remaining to make it 31-10.

Moments before his last score, Bush took a screen pass and raced 74 yards down the right sideline. He looked to be on his way to the end zone for a 92-yard score before boobling the ball and losing it out of bounds at the San Francisco 18.

"Naturally I wanted to be in there making plays," Bush said. "I had guys like Deuce, Joe Horn and Drew Brees teaching me to be patient. Patience is a virtue and I knew it (the big game) would come in due time. I hadn't had many flashy runs or breakthrough games. But I've been patient and learning, making adjustments."

Bush finished with nine catches for 131 yards and rushed for 37 yards on 10 attempts in tying Joe Horn's club record for TDs in a game.

"We were all waiting for that breakout game," Saints quarterback Drew Brees said. "I'm sure the fans were. He's used to just running circles around people in college. But you get to the NFL, the defenses are quicker, and they game plan so well. He's learning, he's watched Deuce McAllister, he's learned how to be a professional. He's developing, and he's just getting better and better."

McAllister rushed for a season-high 136 yards for the Saints (8-4), who moved 1 1/2 games ahead of Carolina in the NFC South.

McAllister also praised Bush.

"I'm sure the media and fans wanted Reggie to have a four-touchdown game the first week," he said. "It just didn't happen. He had to stay patient. You knew it (Bush's big game) would eventually come. He just had to be patient and continue to make his reads. The talent is obviously there. I don't know if it was anything he was doing differently today. He was making tacklers miss in the hole. He was making the tough runs."

Brees had his string of five straight 300-yard games snapped. He completed 17-of-28 passes for 186 yards and a TD.

Brees was without prized rookie wide receiver Marques Colston for the second straigt week due to an ankle injury. Horn also left in the first half with a groin injury.

New Orleans also received a big performance from his defense, which held Frank Gore to 40 rushing yards on 13 attempts. Gore entered leading the NFC with 1,177 rushing yards, 505 of them coming in the last three games.

Smith failed to have the same success against the Saints that Bush enjoyed against the Niners. He went 14-of-28 for 171 yards and one touchdown with three interceptions. Cornerback Mike McKenzie victimized Smith for a pair of interceptions.

"Hey it's been like a drought," McKenzie said. "I've been kidding him a little about that. When you can win that turnover battle like we did today, it's important. You're going to come out on the winning end of a lot of games."

Antonio Bryant had a 48-yard touchdown catch in the third quarter for the Niners (5-7).

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