Here's five takeaways from the Washington Redskins' Week 6 matchup against the Detroit Lions Sunday at Ford Field.
1. Despite a wild fourth quarter and final two minutes, the Redskins couldn't hold on to keep their winning streak alive.
With the offense not scoring for much of the afternoon, it was Washington's defense that took center stage for the first half of Sunday's game in Detroit.
Check out the top images from the Washington Redskins' defense and special teams in their 2016 Week 7 matchup against the Detroit Lions Oct. 23, 2016, at Ford Field.
While the Lions were able to move the ball down the field at times, Detroit managed just three points in the first half, a scoring outcome matched by Dustin Hopkins on the final play of the second quarter.
Then the game completely changed in the fourth quarter, as the Redskins outscored the Lions 14-3 through the first 14 minutes of the frame.
But with the game on the line in the final minute and Detroit needing a touchdown, quarterback Matthew Stafford marched the Lions 75 yards down the field in just six plays, finding Anquan Boldin for an 18-yard score with 16 seconds left in the game.
The Redskins would get the ball back, but there just wasn't enough time to engineer another scoring drive.
"We had a chance to close out the game and we didn't," linebacker Ryan Kerrigan said. "We did some good things out there but not enough to win."
On that final drive, Stafford three of his five pass attempts for 71 yards.
"The offense finally got some juice and got going, and we just had to stay stout and finish the game and we didn't do that," safety Will Blackmon said. "So credit to them, they did a great job. It was a chess match all game, and I had fun, I like when it is difficult. It was going back and forth, they threw a punch, we threw a punch, it was a comparative, entertaining game inside the lines, and they got the last punch."
2. The team had too many miscues even with the final score close.Whether it was the ball that bounced off of Bashaud Breeland that turned into a long third-down gain, a rare miss from kicker Dustin Hopkins or the offense's two lost fumbles, the Redskins had too many mistakes on Sunday, even when it appeared the pendulum had swung their way near the end.
Check out the top images from the Washington Redskins' offense in their 2016 Week 7 matchup against the Detroit Lions Oct. 23, 2016, at Ford Field.
While Rob Kelley would recover his first fumble of the game, his second fumble – one in which he tried to fight for extra yards at the goal line but coughed it up – on the afternoon, though, potentially cost the Redskins points on the board.
The Lions would recover the fumble in the end zone for a touchback. 10 plays later, Matt Prater converted on a 43-yard field goal attempt to crack a scoreless affair.
"We fumbled twice. That's big, we can't fumble first-and-goal at the six running into the end zone," Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said. "We had a couple false starts penalties and their defense did a nice job."
Then in the third quarter on 3rd-and-1 from the Detroit 34-yard line, Trent Williams tripped over Spencer Long. As he was falling, he tried to toss the ball to Jones, but the ball would instead hit the turf and be recovered by the defense.
"I've got to learn from that. There's no excuse for that," Long said after the game. "That reach block, he got in my view, a great play by them, great jump on the snap count, I got to not let that much penetration come. But I'm learning, man. I promise you I'm going to learn from that and come back strong. That was a big one. Plays like that, there were other plays in the game, it's a team effort and we're going to learn from this one. We're going to come back fighting. We're going to come back stronger."
3. Kirk Cousins had a solid game, hitting on 30 of his pass attempts for more than 300 yards and two total touchdowns.Setting the tone early by targeting four different receivers on the first drive of the game for the offense, Cousins had an efficient game against an aggressive Lions defense, as he finished the game with 300 passing yards and a passing touchdown while registering a passer rating of 106.9.
Cousins also recorded a 19-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter with a quarterback keeper on an option play with running back Chris Thompson.
His 300-yard passing performance puts him second all-time in Redskins history in that category, while his touchdown run was the longest rush attempt of his career.
"Phenomenal play call by [offensive coordinator] Sean [McVay]," Cousins said after the game of his touchdown run. "We had run it the previous play and handed it off. Second time we got to it because we didn't get the look we wanted on a pass play, so we checked to it. The defensive end closed and pulled it. Phenomenal blocking by our receiver on the outside to give me the chance to get there, and great play design."
Cousins also found Robert Kelly for a one-yard touchdown throw in the fourth quarter.
"It felt pretty good," Kelley said of his first career NFL touchdown. "It's something you dream about as a kid and it actually happened for me this time."
While the Redskins weren't able to hold on for the victory, Cousins also proved to teammates he can handle the pressure of a close game.
"Kirk is in the huddle, he's calling the play and he's getting guys engaged. 'Let's go, let's go,' just things that leaders would do," tight end Vernon Davis – who finished the game with 79 receiving yards – said. "Whether it's gestures or vocal, he's doing it and he's always been great. I'm excited about Kirk and I'm pleased to be working with him. Right now we just have to go to practice and get ready for the next one."
4. Jamison Crowder's breakout season continued with his second career 100-yard game.
Targeted nine times on the afternoon, Crowder was able to haul in seven receptions for 108 yards.
Sure, those are great numbers any way you look at it, but the catches he made and the way in which he did them was impressive.
Take his first catch of the game, a 19-yard reception on 3rd-and-6 when he juked Darius Slay right at the line to buy himself open space.
It was the first of four third down receptions on the afternoon, as Detroit really didn't have an answer for the second-year Duke product.
Cousins has always thought Crowder is "pretty talented," it's just a matter of getting him the football in the right spots.
"I go where my reads take me, and [on Sunday] they took me to him with the plays we called quite a bit," Cousins said. "But he's an extremely talented player, you've seen what he can do on special teams as well. No surprise to us, we see him every day in practice."
5. The Redskins were able to get pressure on Stafford, but it wasn't enough in the end.
Washington's defense was able to record at least three sacks for the third straight game, as linebackers Ryan Kerrigan, Trent Murphy and Preston Smith all took down Stafford on the afternoon.
For Kerrigan, he has registered a sack in three straight games, his longest streak since his career year during the 2014 season.
Murphy, meanwhile, has at least a half-sack in six straight games while also recording his third forced fumble of the season.
But on that final drive, Stafford was able to get the Lions down the field in a hurry. The 2009 No. 1-overall pick not only completed three passes for more than 70 yards, he also had a big scramble for 18 yards.
"He's a lot more mobile than people will give him credit for," Kerrigan admitted after the game. "He did a good job of creating opportunities to extend plays and throw that ball, but also a good job of scrambling and making plays with his legs."
Next up for the defense is a Bengals offense led by Andy Dalton, who has 15 rushing touchdowns in his career but has been sacked 22 times this season, the second highest mark in the NFL right now.