Saints-Panthers: Drew Brees Says Ladell Betts Was MVP in New Orleans Win

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Saints-Panthers: Drew Brees Says Ladell Betts Was MVP in New Orleans Win
Chris Graythen/Getty Images
Ladell Betts says Saints are probably not used to his physical style.

Drew Brees had a front row seat in 2006 when former Washington Redskins RB Ladell Betts ran circles around a New Orleans Saints team headed to the NFC Championship Game.

After injuries to most of the Saints' offensive backfield, Betts is wearing black and gold these days and is the latest weapon at Brees' disposal.

Betts combined with Chris Ivory to gain 114 rushing yards and help the Saints establish a much-needed running game—something that had been missing in the team's first three games.

The Saints' consistent ground game helped improve New Orleans' woeful early-season third down conversion rate.

While Betts is a few years older and coming off major new surgery, he looked none the worse for wear, as he ran physical in gaining 47 yards on 13 carries and added 23 yards on four receptions. Betts had two key runs on a drive that led to what proved to be John Carney's game-winning 25-yard field goal.

Brees offered high praise, saying, "(Betts) is just a football player...he's tough, smart."

"Man, he was awesome...he was awesome. He was the MVP of the offense today in my opinion," Brees told reporters in the post-game locker room. "A guy (Betts) who was here for part of training camp but this is a pretty extensive offense, when you talk about what we do in the passing game, the run game, the no huddle, the empty, the formations, everything.

"And for him to be in here for training camp just for a few weeks...and then to come in and start and catch passes out of the backfield, do a great job with the protection, run the ball extremely well. He's just a ball player. He's just a football player," said Brees. 

On his first carry, Betts ran for nine yards, and he then added a six-yard reception and a seven-yard run on a 15-play, 90-yard drive that produced no points when Lance Moore fumbled near the goal line and Carolina's James Anderson recovered.

In the second quarter, Betts ran like a fullback for an eight-yard gain on a play where he accelerated on contact, lowering his shoulders and turning vertical all the while looking like the same player he did when he ran through the Saints defense in 2006.

Betts told WWL Radio that while the Saints may not be accustomed to physical running backs, that is his M.O., so get used to it.

"I guess they're not used to it here (physical running backs) but that's pretty much what I do," said Betts. "I just try to get my pads down, get downhill, and run through tackles."

On the Saints' final possession, Betts had six-, nine-, and four-yard runs on a drive that led to Carney's decisive, game-winning 25-yard field goal.

In spite of his performance, Betts told WWL that he still has a lot to prove. I wouldn't say I proved myself. I'm still earning the trust with the guys and here in the locker room and the coaches, but I definitely took a step in the right direction."

As for Sean Payton, he likes Betts' hard-nosed style.

"I thought he played physical today. There are a few plays where for a player coming off injury-that's very encouraging, that's kind of getting back on the horse if you will and this was really his first game back," said Payton.

"I thought (Betts) brought some toughness and I thought it was contagious to our sideline and to our offense."

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