Fresh off a contract extension, Ladell Betts turned in another career performance in Sunday's game against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Betts set career highs in rushing with 171 yards on 33 carries, and he was the Redskins' standout offensive player in the 21-19 loss at FedExField. Betts reeled off runs of 19, 13, 20, 17 and 12 yards--in the first half against the Eagles' porous run defense.
It was the second week in a row that Betts set career highs in rushing. He had 155 rushing yards on 28 carries in the Redskins' 24-14 loss to the Atlanta Falcons on Dec. 3.
Since Clinton Portis was placed on injured reserve in mid-November, Betts has emerged as a potential franchise back. He is running with a combination of patience and confidence: he waits for blockers to do their jobs and then bulldozes through holes, often making the first tackler miss.
"My offensive line did a tremendous job," he said. "My receivers downfield blocking played a vital role in my running success, too. All I had to do as a runner was read my blocks, and find a running lane."
The 5-10, 222-pound running back was the Redskins' second-round draft pick in 2002. Even as Betts waited for opportunities behind Stephen Davis, Trung Canidate and Clinton Portis from 2002-05, he knew he was capable of being a franchise back.
"All the things that I'm doing now are things I always knew I was capable of, it just was a matter of working hard, staying focused, and being ready when the opportunity presented itself," he said.
Betts' 171 rushing yards was the 11th-best rushing performance by a Redskins player in franchise history. Portis rushed for 171 yards on 36 carries against the Chicago Bears on Oct. 17, 2004.
Gerald Riggs holds the franchise mark with 221 rushing yards on 29 carries on Sept. 17, 1989.
As Sunday's game moved into the second half, Betts continued to dominate in the running game. He reeled off a 14-yard run on his first carry of the third quarter, and followed that up with an 11-yard run.
Betts found success running straight at the Eagles' defense, which entered the game ranked 28th against the run.
"As a competitive athlete you always want the ball," he said. "These are the situations you want a player. You want to be looked at by your peers and coaching staff as someone who can make things happen. I just give credit to my offensive line and coaching staff for allowing me this opportunity to make some plays."
With the Redskins at 4-9 and out of the playoff hunt, Betts said he hopes to finish with more than 1,000 yards rushing for the first time in his career.
Betts has accumulated 814 rushing yards so far this season, and he needs 186 to reach the 1,000-yard plateau. That means he would need to average 62.0 yards per game over the Redskins final three games.