In the second quarter of Sunday's game against the Rams, Clinton Portis came to the sideline for a breather. The next moment, Portis looked up and saw Rock Cartwright chugging downfield for a 52-yard gain.
"I figured I better get back in there," Portis said. "I couldn't let Rock get all the yards."
Portis was joking, of course. Cartwright's teammates took great pride in seeing the 5-7, 223-pound running back turn in a career performance in Sunday's 24-9 win over the St. Louis Rams.
Cartwright finished the game with 118 rushing yards on nine carries. It was the first time that Cartwright had produced a 100-yard effort in his four years in the NFL. Up until then, Cartwright's best day had been a 94-yard rushing effort against Dallas in 2003.
"The offensive line did a great job," Cartwright said. "All I had to do was just run. Everything we worked on in practice worked in the game. It feels good to get a victory and get the momentum going again."
Seven weeks earlier, across the state of Missouri, Cartwright committed a costly fumble in the Week 5 game against the Kansas City Chiefs. The ball was picked up by the Chiefs' Sammy Knight, who returned it 80 yards for a touchdown. The Chiefs won 28-21.
Coaches and teammates supported Cartwright through that tough time.
"I told him in Kansas City, 'Hey, everybody fumbles,'" Portis said. "You can't hold your head down. You have to bounce back. Ever since then, Rock has played great."
Said Cartwright: "You live and you learn. People make mistakes. I just make sure I have two hands on it at all times. It feels good to get a victory and it feels good to know I contributed the way I did and to help the team win."
So far this season, Cartwright has recorded 186 rushing yards on 24 carries. He also has two touchdowns.
His playing time at running back has come as a result of a knee injury to Ladell Betts, who has missed the Redskins' last three games.
"If everybody out there wants to talk about a consummate Redskin, I'll tell you it's Rock,'' head coach Joe Gibbs said. "He was rip-roaring it. We've all talked about it. We think if we played Rock steady down-in, down-out, he could make a bunch of yards for us. He's the guy that you talk about as a being a great team player. I'm just thrilled to see him get a chance to carry the ball."