- The Washington Times - Monday, December 23, 2002

Kenny Watson and Ladell Betts know that 100-yard rushing games in Steve Spurrier's Fun 'n' Gun offense are few and far between.
So when both Washington Redskins running backs found themselves on the precipice of the coveted triple-digit mark during yesterday's 26-10 win over the Houston Texans, they realized they couldn't let this rare opportunity pass them by.
"We knew we were pretty close," Watson said. "We had a pretty good first half, and the offensive line was doing a good job. So we were kind of joking with each other, saying we might as well go ahead and both get it."
With 7:21 to play in the fourth quarter, Watson broke the barrier first, picking up 12 yards on third-and-1. Less than a minute and a half later, Betts rambled 15 yards down the right sideline to surpass the 100-yard mark himself.
And with that, these two relatively unknown running backs etched their names into the Redskins record book alongside some of the greatest rushers in team history. With Betts' 116 yards on 20 carries and Watson's 110 yards on 20 attempts, the duo became the first pair of Washington backs to each surpass 100 yards in a game in 17 years.
On Nov.3, 1985, Keith Griffin (164 yards) and George Rogers (124) accomplished the feat against the Atlanta Falcons. Four weeks earlier, in an Oct.7 game against the St. Louis Cardinals, Rogers (104) teamed up with John Riggins (103).
"It's kind of shocking," Betts said. "I didn't realize we ran as many times as we did. I didn't realize we had as many yards as we did. It's a true testament to our offensive line. Those guys got the job done."
The Redskins' most prolific ground game (247 yards) since they had 259 yards on Sept.3, 1995 against Arizona came without Stephen Davis in the lineup. The veteran back watched from the sidelines, still nursing a dislocated right shoulder that almost certainly will keep him from playing in next week's finale against the Dallas Cowboys.
No, the Redskins racked up all those yards (on a season-high 46 attempts to boot) behind the performances of two backs who entered this season with a combined one game of NFL experience. And given the probability of a Watson-Betts tandem sharing the load next season assuming the club does not bring Davis back and take an $11.4million salary cap hit Spurrier couldn't have asked for much more from the two during yesterday's audition.
"It was very encouraging watching those two," Spurrier said. "Certainly, we plan on using them very similarly next week."
And, perhaps, next year?
"I'm not really thinking of it as an audition, 'cause next year's not here," Watson said. "We've got to worry about now. We want to finish up the season strong."
Watson, a second-year back from Penn State who spent most of last season on the practice squad, and Betts, a rookie from Iowa, had nearly identical numbers yesterday. And they ran in nearly identical styles, staying between the tackles while totaling 15 rushes of 7 or more yards.
"The offensive line, they were opening up holes so big, sometimes we weren't even getting touched," Betts said. "It made our job pretty easy today."
The Redskins consistently ran behind the right side of their line (guard Tre Johnson and tackle Jon Jansen), which performed admirably against Gary Walker, the Texans' Pro Bowl left defensive end.
"I didn't think it was going to be as much power football as it was," Walker said. "I was thinking there would be a lot more draws and counter plays. They ran up in there and just outplayed us."
In a season that has seen Spurrier change offensive philosophies on an almost weekly basis, the Redskins yesterday never gave up on the running game, rushing the ball 46 times to 32 pass attempts.
And when they needed it most, up 13 points early in the fourth quarter, the Redskins chewed up the clock with 10 straight running plays. That kind of one-dimensional play calling may not be Spurrier's usual cup of tea, but in this case, it proved to be the best course of action.
"It's like a relationship," Johnson said of the running game. "You've got to stick with it. You may get stuck a couple times, it may be bad and you may want to roll out, but you've got to stick in there and make it work. And in the end, it's going to be a beautiful thing."

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