Andre Carter drew little Pro Bowl attention this season despite leading the Redskins with 10.5 sacks and becoming a steady force in run defense.
Now, the 28-year-old Carter has a chance to make a name for himself on a big-time stage in this Saturday's Wild Card playoff game against the Seattle Seahawks.
The Seahawks employ the NFC's sack leader this season in Patrick Kerney, one of four defensive ends to beat out Carter for the Pro Bowl.
Kerney, the former University of Virginia pass rusher, finished with 14.5 sacks.
Across coasts, Carter has been equally as steady all season for the Redskins. He produced 65 tackles, fifth best on the team, and 17 quarterback pressures to go along with his sacks.
Carter was solid in the Redskins' stretch run. Last Sunday, early in the first quarter against the Dallas Cowboys, he tackled the running back Marion Barber for a 5-yard loss, setting a tone for a dominant defensive afternoon.
In Week 15 against the New York Giants, Carter stopped running back Reuben Droughns on a fourth down. Later, he raced around left end and sacked Eli Manning, forcing a fumble that was recovered by Anthony Montgomery.
Carter's 10.5 sacks this season are two short of his career high, set in 2002 with San Francisco.
Carter's sack surge actually began late last season. In his last 21 games, he has 14.5 sacks.
One reason Carter may not draw more national attention is that he has produced just two multi-sack games in that span.
That's fine with him.
"I just keep it going," Carter said, "I know every great player has a three or four sack game. I don't force it. I just play hard, play by play. I think the most important thing for me is to win the game."
The NFL began recognizing sacks in 1982. Since then, there have been 17 occasions during which a Redskin has reached double digits in sacks.
Redskins greats Dexter Manley and Charles Mann both did it four times.
This season, Carter became the first Redskin to reach double digits in sacks since linebacker LaVar Arrington registered 11 in 2002.
Carter earned a place on the Redskins' single-season sack leaders with his 2007 performance. His 10.5 sacks put him at 12th on the list, tied with Marco Coleman.
Manley is the Redskins' single-season all-time leader with 18.5 in 1986. He's also No. 2 on the list with 15 sacks in 1985. Up next is Mann with 14.5 sacks in 1985.
The Redskins finished with a league-low 19 sacks last year. That figure was upgraded to 33 team sacks this season.
All offseason, Redskins coaches decided to trust the defensive linemen already on the roster. Carter now represents the top beneficiary of that trust.
"The coaching staff, from [assistant head coach-defense] Gregg Williams to [defensive coordinator] Greg Blache, has been very trusting of us to get the job done and we've been very successful," Carter said. "We're a talented group of players who believe in each other and we play hard for each other."
Added Williams: "We have to continue to find more ways to help him, but the big thing is he helps himself out. He's highly conditioned. He's very motivated. He's very intelligent. He goes in with a game plan on his own technique every week now.
"He knows that we give him the freedom, that he talks to us throughout the course of the week and there's a give and take on the things that we see him do in practice. We try to help him out with a few of the things that we think he should capitalize on.
"He's now a smart enough football player in understanding what we do and why we do things, that now he can add his own thought processes to the technique that he has to use to go in to a game."
Carter spent his first five NFL seasons with the San Francisco 49ers, where he competed against the Seahawks twice a year. In six games against Seattle, he has three career sacks.
Carter wasn't with the Redskins when they made the playoffs in 2005. He saw postseason action with the 49ers his first two years in the league 2001 and 2002.
There's the real incentive for the Redskins' 6-4, 252-pound defensive end and pass-rush specialist.
"This is such a fun experience," he said. "It's not over yet--we want to keep it rolling."