Ladell Betts reached his goal of a 1,000-yard rushing season on Sunday in St. Louis, but his day ended in frustration as the Redskins lost to the Rams 37-31 in overtime.
Betts finished the game with 129 rushing yards on 29 carries, and he had two touchdown runs. Through 15 games, Betts has compiled 1,062 rushing yards on 225 carries, both career highs.
Despite the success, Betts committed a critical gaffe with just over two minutes left in the fourth quarter.
At the Rams' 49-yard line, Betts took a handoff and followed blocks by Jon Jansen and Randy Thomas into open field. He appeared headed for a game-winning touchdown, but defensive back Oshiomogho Atogwe caught him from behind and jarred the ball from his grasp, forcing a critical turnover.
It put a damper on an otherwise strong performance by Betts. Again.
By rushing for more than 100 yards for the fifth consecutive game, Betts tied a franchise mark held by Rob Goode and Clinton Portis.
Goode rushed for five consecutive 100-yard games in 1951 and Portis matched it last season. With one game remaining, Betts has a chance to break it on Saturday, Dec. 30, against the New York Giants at FedExField.
Betts reached the 1,000-yard plateau on a 23-yard draw play late in the second quarter. It was the first time that Betts had rushed for more than 1,000 yards in his career.
Not so fast.
After the 23-yard pickup, Betts was at 1,003 yards for the season. One play later, he was tackled for a 5-yard loss, putting him back at 997 yards.
Betts got another chance later in the drive and ran around left end for a 13-yard pickup.
In the press box, the public address announcer said: "Betts now has his second 1,000-yard season."
Ever since Betts took over for the injured Clinton Portis midseason, the Redskins' offensive linemen have been pushing for Betts to eclipse 1,000 yards on the season. The feat remains a badge of honor for any offensive lineman, left tackle Chris Samuels said.
"It means a lot," Samuels said. "I have always thought Ladell was a talented back for us. He always came in and made great moves for us with the one-two punch. He has been doing an outstanding job and I am proud of him this season."
In the days leading up to Sunday's game in St. Louis, Betts did not shy away from saying he wanted to reach the 1,000-yard barrier. He admitted that he was well aware that the St. Louis Rams had the NFL's 31st-ranked run defense.
Betts' emergence at running back has coincided with Joe Gibbs' emphasis on the running game in the second half of the season.
Betts even discussed reaching the 1,000-yard plateau during negotiations for a contract extension, according to Gibbs. He signed the deal on Dec. 8.
Asked about Betts' quest for 1,000 yards, Gibbs said: "We don't talk a lot about that. I know it is important to Ladell. It would be important for any back. It is a major deal particularly seeing how he got it. He got 1,000 yards alternating carries at the start of the year and now he has gotten hot at the end of the year.
"When we were talking about trying to get him resigned, we would talk about the football end of it and he brought up reaching 1,000 yards. He said he was excited about having the opportunity to do it."
Added quarterback Jason Campbell: "Ladell means a lot to the offense because [his running] opens up our passing game and our play-action. When you can do play-action and have success with it, it helps open up the run game.
"It works hand in hand and it makes you multi- dimensional. That's what is going to help make us a great offense. We just have to continue to keep working and doing those things well."