Redskins' Ladell Betts fills in for Clinton Portis, has big day against Broncos

Ladell Betts breaks through for some of his 114 yards. "He's the type of guy, when he gets an opportunity, he's gonna make superstar plays," said teammate Lorenzo Alexander of the longtime backup.
Ladell Betts breaks through for some of his 114 yards. "He's the type of guy, when he gets an opportunity, he's gonna make superstar plays," said teammate Lorenzo Alexander of the longtime backup. (John Mcdonnell/the Washington Post)   |   Buy Photo

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By Rick Maese
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, November 16, 2009

After posting a rushing performance unlike any Redskins fans had seen this season, running back Ladell Betts was led to the interview room beneath FedEx Field. It's a postgame area usually reserved for the head coach and one or two star players. Betts is a guy whose own team misspelled the name on the back of his jersey during a preseason game this year.

"I was just joking on the way over here, I didn't remember how to get to this room," Betts said with a smile. "It's been so long."

Fortunately for the Redskins, he didn't have the same problem finding his way to the field for the team's first offensive possession. Starting for the first time since 2006, Betts proved to be a difference-maker in Washington's 27-17 win over the Broncos. The Redskins snapped a four-game losing streak, and Betts posted the team's best rushing performance of the season.

Clinton Portis, sidelined because of a concussion suffered against the Atlanta Falcons a week ago, watched the game in street clothes, cheering on his teammates.

Asked after the game whether he'd consider a lineup change when Portis is healthy enough to return, Coach Jim Zorn said simply, "No."

But the difference in the Redskins' offense with Betts in the backfield -- and an offensive line that refused to get pushed around -- was undeniable. Not only were Betts' s 114 yards more than anything Portis has posted this season, but the team's 174 rushing yards and 40 carries were also both season highs.

Plus, Sunday's performance came against a Denver defense that was ranked third overall in the NFL and No. 8 against the run.

Betts's one-yard plunge into the end zone with 2 minutes 44 seconds remaining snapped a 17-17 tie and provided the team's winning touchdown. With two rushing scores in as many weeks, Betts has quickly taken the team lead in rushing touchdowns.

"It doesn't surprise me," quarterback Jason Campbell said of Betts's contribution. "Because that's the type of attitude he has and that's the type of player he is."

Betts has shown before he's a reliable backup for Portis. When the Redskins' star running back was placed on season-ending injured reserve in 2006, Betts strung together 100-yard games in five straight games. In the sixth game -- the season finale -- he managed 92 yards.

Betts has made 12 career starts and has managed 100-yard games in seven of them.

"I mean, in this league, superstars have opportunities," teammate Lorenzo Alexander said. "And he's the type of guy, when he gets an opportunity, he's gonna make superstar plays."


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