By PAUL SCHWARTZ
January 22, 2007
CHICAGO - The burst of speed Reggie Bush displayed that left safety Chris Harris dead in his tracks impressed the Bears. The outrageous cut by Bush that left Danieal Manning and Charles Tillman grasping at air stunned the Bears.
And then, the antics pulled by the rookie Bush were, well, bush, if you ask the Bears.
"Disgusting," Harris said.
Bush en route to an electrifying 88-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown in the third quarter of yesterday's NFC Championship Game got his Saints back in the game, but did something far more damaging. Ahead of the field, Bush turned and pointed back at linebacker Brian Urlacher, who was trailing the play, and then launched himself head-first into the end zone. That pulled the Saints within 16-14. But the Bears were so incensed that they stormed to the last 23 points of the game in their convincing 39-14 rout at delirious Soldier Field.
"The taunting, him going in, pointing, flipping into the end zone, if you're gonna do that, be ready, we're coming after you," Harris said.
This was not a slight that was even discussed on the Bears sideline.
"I don't think anybody had to say anything, you could see that in everybody's eyes," Harris said. "You don't want anybody to do that to you at home. We came out and dominated after that."
Urlacher was not as effusive. "What did he do? Point back?" Urlacher asked afterward. "I'm sure he wished they won the game instead of pointing back at me."
Asked if he recalled the last time an opponent openly taunted him the way Bush did, Urlacher barely showed any emotion.
"I think we're going to the Super Bowl," he said.
Bush may regret awakening the Bears, because that is exactly what he did.
"I don't think that was showmanship on his part," linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer said. "They had two plays the whole game. They were the No. 1 offense in the league and we shut them down. People cut on our defense all year and they had two plays. That's pretty good."
Bush admitted his actions were over-the-top.
"I just got caught up in the emotion of the game," Bush said. "I was excited. It was a big play. I let my emotions get the best of me. I told Coach [Sean Payton] that I apologize for that. Obviously I was wrong for doing that."
All week, the Bears heard how it would be next to impossible to slow the Saints, who owned the No. 1 offense in the NFC. Drew Brees passed for 354 yards and two touchdowns, but much of the production was comeback yards and there was little or nothing from the 1-2 running back tandem of Bush (4 carries, 19 yards) and Deuce McAllister (6-18), as the Saints managed just 56 rushing yards.