Take that, history. The Detroit Lions served an old ghost a long overdue kick in the teeth Sunday afternoon, defeating the Washington Redskins 27-20 behind several clutch plays down the stretch on both offense and defense.
Though such plays evaded them last weekend during a similar pursuit in Arizona, the Lions were able to slay a bigger dragon this week, winning in Washington for the first time ever. Prior to Sunday, the Lions were 0-21 having only beat the Redskins while they played in Boston. However, behind Joique Bell, Matthew Stafford's clutch passing, Calvin Johnson's late touchdown and a key fumble, the Lions persevered and got the job done.
So, here's to Dwight Sloan and Gus Henderson, who first tasted defeat in the nation's capital starting the streak in 1939. Here's to Bobby Layne, Mel Farr, Lem Barney, Greg Landry, Charlie Sanders, Barry Sanders, Herman Moore and all the Lions in between who suffered after losses, wondering if some type of hex hovered over Detroit during trips to Washington. In 2013, that monkey has finally been lifted. The Hunt Report finally serves up a major dish of revenge to Washington that's been 74 years in the making.
Brandon Pettigrew May Have Been Replaced. When the Lions needed a score in the first half within the red zone, they went to Joseph Fauria for the second time in three games. Matthew Stafford simply threw the ball high and Fauria grabbed it out of mid-air. It was a fantastic catch that Pettigrew probably couldn't have made. Otherwise, Pettigrew wasn't a focal point for the offense Sunday, meaning the Lions probably worry about his hands more than they let on early in the week. If Fauria continues to catch touchdowns while Pettigrew fumbles around, the next Lou Gehrig-Wally Pipp moment could (and should) be taking place.
A Lazy Third Quarter Mindset Is Becoming A Huge Problem. Not to be a Debbie Downer-type in the midst of victory, but the Lions seem to get lazy in the third quarter coming out of the locker room. It happened again Sunday, as Washington started to move the ball easier on offense, and Detroit's offense started to bog down immediately after halftime. Had the team been facing anyone else, they could have found themselves in trouble similar to last week and trailing heading into the final quarter. The lack of focus at a key moment screams of coaching letdowns. Certainly something to stay tuned to as the season progresses.
No Reggie Bush? Joique Bell Says No Problem. Perhaps the Lions should try and deal Mikel Leshoure sooner rather than later. After being asked to shoulder the full time workload following Bush sitting out, all Bell did was go out and contribute in the best way possible, with 132 all-purpose yards. His touchdown in the first half kept the Lions ground game alive, and Bell did fantastic to give the passing game some juice at key moments as well.
Detroit Sill Needs To Score More Off Their Turnovers. In what has been a frustrating trend since the preseason, the Lions routinely fail to punch the ball into the end zone after forcing the other team into a turnover. Had the Lions simply been able to buckle down a few more times Sunday after Washington mistakes, the game wouldn't have been close. As the stakes get higher, Detroit will need to make sloppy teams pay for their mistakes, especially in bigger games.
Credit Jim Schwartz For Going On Fourth Down Late. It's Where The Game Was Won. Schwartz comes under plenty of fire in Detroit for his decision making (mysteriously including running the ball late in the first half last week) but credit the coach for playing to win Sunday and applying the dagger late in the fourth quarter. Schwartz could have settled for the field goal in a tense situation, but the Lions coach decided a powerful quarterback sneak was a better idea on fourth and inches. The Lions scored when Johnson caught a beautiful pass, and thus, ended up winning. Had the Lions played conservatively, they may have lost. Aggression helped Schwartz and his team in this situation, and they were clearly aided by the bold move.
Lions? In addition to the fantastic play of Stafford, Johnson and Bell, give Nate Burleson and Ryan Broyles credit for giving Detroit's passing game some teeth. Defensively, Ziggy Ansah had a fantastic game off the edge, and looks the part of a great pass rusher in the making. Chris Houston had a decent day in coverage.
Lambs? The biggest lamb Sunday was Rashean Mathis, who had a rough outing coming out of Jim Schwartz's "bullpen" early. He nearly made a key Whiff on a deep ball and was only saved by the Calvin Johnson rule. Mathis also offended collecting a personal foul penalty.
Stat Of The Day: 116, the amount of receiving yards for Nate Burleson. It was arguably Burleson's best day catching the ball since 2010, when he grabbed 113 yards and a touchdown on seven receptions against the New York Jets. Without Patrick Edwards and Reggie Bush and Brandon Pettigrew rendered largely useless, it was important for someone else to step up catching the ball. Burleson did that with a great day through the air, which included plenty of speed. Finally, Calvin Johnson had some help down the field.
What About The Five Things? Shaking off an early interception, Stafford's decision making was much better. Detroit's offense without Bush looked surprisingly good to the tune of 441 yards. Despite three personal fouls, discipline seemed much better, the offensive line held up alright only allowing one sack, and Brandon Pettigrew's hands were never an issue, as he was targeted two times but never figured into the game plan.
Stalking The Next Prey: The Chicago Bears come to town at 1 p.m. next Sunday in what will be an early showdown for first place in the NFC North. The game will be broadcast on Fox.
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