Bush, Brees lead Saints to first win

Published 12:54 am Monday, October 15, 2007

SEATTLE (AP) — The New Orleans Saints finally found the win column. A standout night from Reggie Bush was only a small part of their breakthrough.

Bush gained 141 yards, Drew Brees threw for 246 and receiver David Patten had eight catches for 113 yards Sunday night to lift the Saints to their first victory, 28-17 over the sloppy Seattle Seahawks.

It was a breakout day for New Orleans (1-4), which hadn’t scored more than 14 points in four dispiriting losses that brought back chilling memories of the ’Aints of days past. In this one, the Saints had three touchdowns by the middle of the second quarter.

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Now, it’s the Seahawks (3-3) who must go directly back to the drawing board after a second straight pathetic effort — this coming a week after a 21-0 loss at Pittsburgh.

Shaun Alexander ran for 35 yards on 14 carries, hardly making good on coach Mike Holmgren’s vow last week to fix the troubled Seattle running game. Matt Hasselbeck threw for 362 yards, his most since December 2004, though most came with Seattle trying to overcome a three-touchdown deficit.

The ugliness, and the booing at Qwest Field, started early when newly acquired long snapper Boone Stutz skidded one back to punter Ryan Plackemeier, who couldn’t field it. Pierre Thomas scooped up the loose ball and scored for a 7-0 lead.

Bush took over for the rest of the first half. Coach Sean Payton told Seattle media he hoped to limit his star running back to 25 touches if he could, but for a while, it looked like Bush might reach that mark by halftime.

He finished with 97 yards rushing and 44 receiving on exactly 25 touches, almost all the damage done in the first two quarters while New Orleans was amassing a 28-10 lead. The Saints spent the second half moving the ball and taking time off the clock.

Bush lost a fumble late in the third quarter at the Seattle 12, but it came at the end of a six-minute drive with an 18-point lead and the outcome not much in doubt anymore.

Trailing by 11, Seattle twice moved into New Orleans territory in the fourth quarter. But the drives ended with an interception by Josh Bullocks and with a Hasselbeck incompletion on fourth-and-9 from the 14.

Brees, who came into the game with one touchdown against a league-high nine interceptions, threw for two scores without a pick this time.

His prime target was Patten, a free-agent pickup this season who had five catches this season.

New Orleans went 7-for-14 on third-down conversions, though none of those successes said more than one that led to its second touchdown.

On third-and-10 in the first quarter, Brees hit Patten for first-down yardage, but a big hit popped the ball loose. It squirted 15 yards up the field and was surrounded by Seattle defenders. However, Saints tight end Eric Johnson hustled downfield, shouldered his body into the pile and came up with the loose ball, turning a possible turnover into a first down in Seahawks territory.

Bush ran for 19 and 14 yards to move New Orleans toward the goal line, then Brees hit Johnson for a 3-yard touchdown and a 14-0 lead.

The Saints defense collected five sacks, including two from blitzing safety Roman Harper. Despite his big numbers, Hasselbeck was harassed all day, throwing off his back foot, hardly looking like the Super Bowl quarterback he was only two seasons ago. He played without either of his opening-day receivers, Deion Branch and D.J. Hackett.

Alexander, meanwhile, has 60 yards on 25 carries over the last two weeks.

Among the few bright spots for the Seahawks, who were booed lustily all night long by the home crowd, are that they still are still tied for the lead in the bad NFC West and have another home game against a winless team, St. Louis, coming up next week.

The game was delayed for about 10 minutes early in the first quarter when the NBC overhead camera crashed to the turf during a timeout. It nearly clocked receiver Bobby Engram as he was walking toward the sideline.

It was hardly the most embarrassing thing that happened to the Seahawks on this night.