Detroit Lions at Washington Redskins: Good, Bad & Ugly


Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson celebrates after scoring a touchdown against the Washington Redskins in the fourth quarter at FedEx Field. Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

I bristled last Monday after Jim Schwartz was most animated during his press conference as he conveyed his annoyance for Sunday Night Football’s Tony Dungy. The Super Bowl-winning coach, a Michigan native, called the Detroit Lions “S.O.L” after their 25-21 loss to the Arizona Cardinals last Sunday. Perhaps Schwartz should have been more concerned with his team’s lackluster performance, but he saved his anger for an aptly called “same old Lions.”

Perhaps this served as a bit of bulletin board material for the Lions, as many players, including Nate Burleson, mentioned the comment in the post-game. The Detroit Lions indeed shed the same old Lions label, at least for this week, as they finally ended their zero-for-forever mark in the nation’s capital, beating the Washington Redskins 27 to 20 on Sunday afternoon.

Get Well Soon, Jason!

The day wasn’t all good. As often happens in the NFL, players can be lost for the season to injuries in the blink of an eye. The Lions’ first long-lasting injury of the season belongs to defensive end Jason Jones due to a ruptured patellar tendon.

From one Eastern Michigan alum to another, get well soon number 91!

Ummm, what????

There were some real head-scratching moments in this contest. Though it benefited the Lions, the fourth quarter Robert Griffin III fumble was, by rule, correctly called, but it is one of those rules in the NFL playbook that contradicts itself. Apparently had he been touched, it would not have been a fumble, had he slid feet first, it would not have been a fumble–not to mention the ground caused the fumble. Okay….

Now the ones that went against the Lions. Rashean Mathis hit Pierre Garcon in the ensuing drive after Detroit went up two scores in the fourth quarter and the hit, which looked harmless enough, was flagged as a personal foul for (apparently) hitting a defenseless receiver. Garcon had his head turned when he caught the pass and Mathis nailed him. I suppose Mathis should have politely tapped him on the shoulder to ask for his attention before he hit him.

Then there was the phantom face mask call on C.J. Mosley when he didn’t even grasp the face mask. His tackle was around the neck and caused Alfred Morris‘ helmet to pop off. It looked as if the officials would do the right thing and pick up the flag, but instead assessed the 15 yards anyway.

For the first time since it became known in 2010, the so-called “Calvin Johnson Rule” actually helped the Lions–wiping out a long touchdown pass for Washington. I still contend that while these plays are usually called correctly, the rule itself is flawed.


Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III (10) is tackled by Detroit Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh (90) during the second half at FedEX Field. Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

For the third straight week, we rave about the defense. While the Lions’ offense was sputtering through the second and third quarters, it was the defense keeping them in the game just as they had done against Arizona. The defense held RGIII‘s group to just 13 points.

Though Dick Stockton and Ronde Barber didn’t call his name much (they believed he wasn’t a factor–ummm okay…) Ndamukong Suh was all over the field quietly making plays while not drawing attention to himself–the perfect way for Suh to play and succeed.

Penalties and Special Teams

The two areas of concern for the Lions were a lot better. Just like last week they had eight penalties, but for only 73 yards as opposed to 100 in Arizona.

Aside from a Sam Martin errand kick-off out of bounds, special teams was flawless and David Akers hit on both of his field goal attempts.


Matthew Stafford, Calvin Johnson and the Lions’ offense got off to a slow start when DeAngelo Hall picked off a pass intended for CJ for a pick-six and 7-0 Washington lead. They got in sync after that.

Staff went over 300 yards for the third straight time and threw for two touchdowns following that lone INT. Calvin once again went over 100 yards receiving (115) and scored the game-sealing touchdown.

An unsung hero of the day may have been Burleson, who had one more yard than Calvin and did what he needed to do while CJ was being double and triple teamed. And to think some thought Burleson would be a non-factor after his broken leg that ended his 2012 season.

Finally, while Lions’ fans woke up Sunday to news they didn’t want to hear–that Reggie Bush was out, Joique Bell did his Reggie impression, amassing 132 total yards. Unlike Bush, though, he rolled through tackles. How often have we seen opposing backs pound through Lions’ defenders? It’s nice we have a bruising back of our own!

Bottom Line

  • I thought Washington would win this game. Probably most Lions’ fans did as well. We’ve seen this before, a reeling Washington team that Detroit suddenly helps to right. It appeared to be a typical loss in the Schwartz-era. Keep you involved in the game, full of hope only to crush it with a late loss.
  • For the record, I predicted the Lions to be coming off this two-game road trip at 2-1, except with a win in Arizona and loss in Washington–still on pace for my 10-6 prediction.
  • Nick Fairley looked like he gained about 25 pounds after missing last week’s game. What was up with that?
  • The Redskins have served as a streak stopper of sorts in two of the past three games (all three wins for Detroit). Just under four years ago, on Sept. 27, 2009, the Lions beat the Redskins 19-14 at Ford Field to snap their 19-game losing streak which stretched back to 2007 and engulfed the entire 2008 season with losses.