Miami RB nearing first 1,000-yard season.
The only slip-up for Reggie Bush against the Buffalo Bills came after the longest run of his career.
Even then, Bush slipped on purpose.
Bush burst through the line, juked around a diving Jairus Byrd and sprinted to a 76-yard touchdown that helped put the finishing touches on the Miami Dolphins’ 30-23 victory over the Buffalo Bills on Sunday.
The dazzling run was capped off with a feet-first slide into the snowy Ralph Wilson Stadium end zone.
“There was really nothing to it,”?said Bush. “I play FIFA on PlayStation a lot, and you’re always sliding in that, so I felt like I did a little soccer slide there. I was just having fun and enjoying the moment.”
Bush sounded like a proud father when describing his highlight-reel touchdown run.
“They knew the run was coming and there really was only one guy deep and it was the safety,” said Bush. “The hole was huge so all?I had to do was make one guy miss.”
Bush, who ran through the snow flakes and the frigid temperatures to gash the Bills’ defense for a career-best 203 rushing yards, is trying to prove he can be an every-down running back in the NFL.
Even though the Dolphins are 5-9 and dealt with the firing of head coach Tony Sparano a week earlier, Bush, a guy labeled most of his career as a “gimmick” player, is having the most satisfying individual season since his days at Southern California.
“I don’t think any of the questions bothered me,” Bush said. “It was more that the opportunities bothered me. I knew what I was capable of doing.
“Rightfully so, people should be questioning me whether I can do it or not. If given the opportunity, I knew I could be an every down back.”
Before this season, Bush had rushed for 100 or more yards only once — in the second-to-last regular season game of his rookie season — on Dec. 24, 2006, at the New York Giants.
Then, through 11 games of this season, Bush had only ran for 100 yards once — Nov. 30 and again at the expense of the Giants.
Now, Bush has rushed for 100-plus yards in four consecutive games and he had plenty of people to thank, especially Sparano.
“I told him I really appreciated him believing in me and bringing me in here and giving me this opportunity to come here,” said Bush. “If it weren’t for him I wouldn’t be here ... I don’t know where I’d be.”
Bush, who will be 27 in March, dedicated his performance and the win over the Bills to his former head coach.
“It was terrible what happened with him not being here, so we just wanted to go out and get this win for him,” said Bush.
The big day for Bush might be a tad surprising only because the Dolphins were playing without All-Pro left tackle Jake Long, who missed a game for the first time in his NFL career with a back injury. John Jerry stepped in and the Dolphins’ offensive line did not miss a beat.
“They made it easy for me,” said Bush. “It’s really been a pleasure and an honor running behind them this year.”
After being drafted No. 2 overall in the 2006 draft, Bush spent five years with the New Orleans Saints doing much of his damage as a receiver and returner. Bush was an average running back who had been relegated to back-up duty the last couple of seasons.
Still, the Saints’ offense flourished and Bush played a critical role during the run to the franchise’s first-ever Super Bowl championship two years ago.
Injuries and other running backs out-performing him had begun to limit Bush’s opportunities and even his receiving and returning numbers had started to decline significantly.
Bush has been rejuvenated in Miami, though, with 194 carries already this season — 37 more than he’s had in any year prior. He also has obliterated his previous career-best rushing season of 581 yards, as Bush is only 27 short of 1,000 this year.
“To continue the growth of our running game has been great for our offense,” said Dolphins quarterback Matt Moore.
Bush has also become a threat as a receiver again. With 41 catches this season, Bush has a chance to finish with his best receiving season since 2008.
The key is still the opportunity for Bush, who is healthy for the first time since his rookie season. Bush has missed 20 games over the last four seasons, but has been the picture of health for most of the season, save for leaving a Monday night loss to the New York Jets early back on Oct. 17. Still, even that neck injury only kept Bush out of action for only one quarter.
It has taken a while, but like the Miami Dolphins, perhaps Bush is finally putting it all together.
Follow Paul Jannace on Twitter at @pjscribe.