Limiting Bush in regular season pays off in playoffs

Reggie Bush didn't always like the plan, but deep down he knew it was the best blueprint for success.

When Bush, the Saints' multidimensional running back and the star of New Orleans' 45-14 victory over the Arizona Cardinals in an NFC divisional playoff game Saturday at the Superdome, was told his touches would be limited throughout the season to ensure he would be healthy for the postseason, his competitive fire took control of him.

But Saints Coach Sean Payton never swayed.

Throughout the season, Payton picked his spots when to use Bush, who was coming off a microfracture procedure on his left knee in December of 2008.

Payton often rotated Bush in and out of the lineup.

In 14 regular-season games, Bush carried the ball more than 10 times once. His season-high for touches came at Buffalo on Sept. 27 when Bush had 20 -- rushing 13 times for 64 yards, catching three passes for 17 yards and returning four punts for 17 yards in the Saints' 27-7 victory.

"It's a long season, and you have to be careful with a back like him that in the first three weeks of the year he's had too many touches -- and he's breaking down, so he gives us versatility in the passing game and in the running game," Payton said. "Our depth with Pierre Thomas, Lynell Hamilton and Mike Bell there allows us to be smart about how we want to use him.

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