Final

Saints 19

(1-0, 1-0 away)

Browns 14

(0-1, 0-1 home)

Coverage: FOX

1:00 PM ET, September 10, 2006

FirstEnergy Stadium, Cleveland, OH 

1 2 3 4 T
NO 3 6 7 319
CLE 0 0 7 714

Top Performers

Passing: D. Brees (NO) - 170 YDS, 1 TD, 1 INT

Rushing: D. McAllister (NO) - 22 CAR, 90 YDS

Receiving: K. Winslow (CLE) - 8 REC, 63 YDS, 1 TD

Bush debuts with 141 total yards in Saints' win vs. Browns

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

It was over when ...
Saints safety Josh Bullocks intercepted a pass that deflected off the hands of Browns receiver Braylon Edwards with less than two minutes remaining, sending Cleveland -- which is celebrating its 60th anniverary -- to its seventh season-opening loss since returning to the NFL in '99.
Game ball goes to ...
The Saints' defense, which held the Browns to just 56 yards and zero points in the first half. Honorable mention goes to Reggie Bush, who had 61 yards rushing on 14 attempts, caught eight passes for 58 yards and returned three punts for 22 in his pro debut.
Scouts Inc.'s take ...
Saints head coach Sean Payton did a great job of mixing things up with his play-calling and keeping the Browns off-balance. By using Bush and Deuce McAllister on the field at the same time, the Saints were able to create a lot of matchup problems for the Browns while creating downhill running seams inside the Browns' 3-4 defense. The Saints finished with 150 yards rushing against a supposedly much-improved Browns defense led by Ted Washington and Willie McGinest.

The Browns continue to have problems with their vanilla offensive game plans. They never really got into rhythm on offense until the second half and struggled to adjust to the Saints' attacking, up-field schemes led by Brian Young and Will Smith. The Saints were very disruptive attacking up-field gaps and allowing their linebackers to attack inside/out to Reuben Droughns.

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.

Elias Says

Reggie Bush
Bush
Reggie Bush's total of 119 yards from scrimmage was the highest by a Heisman Trophy winner in his NFL debut since 1982, when Marcus Allen gained 180 yards (116 rushing, 64 receiving).

• For more Elias Says, Click here.

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.

It was a painful and somewhat fitting ending for the Browns, celebrating their 60th anniversary. On their first offensive play, Edwards got behind the Saints defense for a 74-yard TD reception that got called back by a penalty.

"The first play described the whole game," Browns tight end Kellen Winslow said.

The Browns fell to 1-7 in season openers since returning to the league in 1999, and coach Romeo Crennel was short with the media during his postgame news conference.

"The other team played better than we did," snapped Crennel.

"Are you angry?" he was asked.

"I'm just peachy," he said.

Cleveland was held to 56 total yards and blanked in the first 30 minutes. But the Browns came back as Charlie Frye threw an 18-yard TD pass to Winslow, and the second-year quarterback scored on a 1-yard sneak to bring Cleveland within 16-14 with 11:20 to go.

The Saints, though, marched down for Carney's fourth kick and then held off Cleveland's rally.

Brees finished 17-of-31 for 176 yards with one interception. Frye, making his sixth career start, was 16-of-27 for 132 yards with the TD and two picks.

Winslow looked fully recovered after missing 30 games the past two seasons and had eight catches for 63 yards.

Bush made some rookie mistakes early. He misjudged Cleveland's first punt, retreating when he it sailed over his head. Late in the first quarter, he slithered through traffic on an 18-yard run and several other carries where he nearly got free.

Bush also dropped a third-down pass near the 5 that he might have scored on, and the 21-year-old had other moments where he tried to do too much.

"I was close a couple of times," Bush said. "On some of those plays I should have gone north instead of cutting sideways."

As he has done since the moment the Saints drafted him second overall, Bush made another strong impression.

"He has something to prove to everybody in this league and he wants to be the best," wide receiver Joe Horn said. "I think he did very well for just starting out. A lot of people wanted to see No. 25 in a real fight, and they were able to see it."

The Browns scored on their first series in the third quarter as Frye connected with Winslow. Playing in just his third game after missing most of two seasons with serious leg injuries, Winslow stiff-armed rookie Roman Harper on his way to the end zone.

Winslow immediately ran to the Browns bench, spiked his helmet and hugged head trainer Marty Lauzon, who spent countless hours in rehab with the tight end.

"It's been hard for me, he's been there every step of the way," Winslow said.

Game notes


Browns wide receiver Joe Jurevicius didn't return to the sideline after hurting his ribs in the first half. ... Frye led the Browns with 44 rushing yards. ... Fullbacks Mike Karney (right calf) and Keith Joseph (right knee) were the notable Saints injuries.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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Team Stat Comparison

 
NO
CLE
1st Downs1715
Passing 1st downs
126
Rushing 1st downs
56
1st downs from penalties
03
3rd down efficiency
9-185-12
4th down efficiency
0-10-0
Total Plays7154
Total Yards326186
Yards per play4.63.4
Total Drives1211
Passing170101
Comp-Att
16-3016-27
Yards per pass
5.73.2
Interceptions thrown
12
Sacks-Yards Lost
0-05-31
Rushing15685
Rushing Attempts
4122
Yards per rush
3.83.9
Red Zone (Made-Att)1-42-3
Penalties6-444-35
Turnovers23
Fumbles lost
11
Interceptions thrown
12
Defensive / Special Teams TDs00
Possession32:4627:14

Passing Leaders

NOC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTSACKS
Brees16/301705.7110-0
CLEC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTSACKS
Frye16/271324.9125-31

Rushing Leaders

NOCARYDSAVGTDLG
McAllister22904.1017
Bush15674.5018
CLECARYDSAVGTDLG
Frye6447.3115
Droughns11272.509

Receiving Leaders

NORECYDSAVGTDLG
Bush7527.4014
Colston44912.3120
CLERECYDSAVGTDLG
Winslow8637.9118
Northcutt4379.3012

Scoring Summary

FIRST QUARTERNOCLE
noFG9:42John Carney 35 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 10 plays, 27 yds, 3:14
30
SECOND QUARTERNOCLE
noFG14:31John Carney 17 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 12 plays, 73 yds, 4:25
60
noFG8:29John Carney 13 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 9 plays, 30 yds, 4:29
90
THIRD QUARTERNOCLE
cleTD9:12Kellen Winslow, 18 yd pass from Charlie Frye (Phil Dawson kick is good)
Drive info: 10 plays, 67 yds, 5:04
97
noTD2:06Marques Colston, 12 yd pass from Drew Brees (John Carney kick is good)
Drive info: 11 plays, 73 yds, 4:46
167
FOURTH QUARTERNOCLE
cleTD11:25Charlie Frye, 1 yd run (Phil Dawson kick is good)
Drive info: 13 plays, 74 yds, 5:40
1614
noFG5:45John Carney 12 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 11 plays, 70 yds, 5:38
1914