Gameday Graphic for Game on 10/31/2010
DETROIT – Funny thing about a comedy of errors. It's not funny.
None of the gaffes and goofs of Sunday's game against the Detroit Lions tickle the ribs or provoke smiles. No one would laugh out loud unless assigned the task of breaking down the Redskins.
No real need to do that. The Redskins broke down all by themselves.
Sluggish, flat and sloppy (which is no way to go through life), the Redskins went into their bye week a day early. Thanks for visiting Ford Field. Next time could you remember to play?
At the end, the Redskins hooked Donovan McNabb for Rex Grossman. McNabb had thrown a stunning interception minutes before that allowed Detroit to score and take the lead. Grossman promptly absorbed a huge hit, coughed up the ball and the Lions scored again on the fumble return in what became a 37-25 smackdown. There's something to chew on with no game for two weeks.
"I felt Rex gave us the best chance to win," coach Mike Shanahan said afterwards, though he also indicated McNabb would remain the starter.
Desperation. Desperation, disaster and disgrace in Detroit. Once more.
Disguised for Halloween as a football game, this little shop of horrors pitted a pair of error-prone teams. It takes two to ugly it up to this extent and the Lions certainly did their part. Except they shook it off while the Redskins sank ever deeper into depths of their own making.
The Lions came in with one victory this season and that's always a bad sign for the Redskins. It is often said they play either up or down to the level of their competition and they continued to ride the elevator, pushing the down button continuously until they reached subterranean strata where even miners don't fare.
Lions 37, Redskins 25. A would-be 5-3 start that would have exceeded all outside expectations slipped away. Again, facing a softer opponent, the Redskins burped and hiccupped on offense, set themselves back with endless infractions and squandered a game that should have been candy.
"We're pretty much disgusted with ourselves," receiver Anthony Armstrong said.
The Redskins lost here last year. Lost to a team with a 19-game losing streak. Learn anything from that? No. They were flat enough at the start to get out of the locker room by sliding under the door.
Well, there's the comedy. Now, the errors. This will be the abridged version, as no one has the time to read a three-part series.
How about having a 95-yard kickoff return for a touchdown wiped out by a penalty, the third infraction by special teams on the day to that point in the third quarter? How about going into the game with just two healthy running backs and then losing one, the starter (Ryan Torain) to a hamstring? How about letting a crowd the size of a community picnic (42,329) get in the game and stay in it? How about jumping offside on a Detroit field goal attempt, allowing the Lions a first down and eventually a touchdown?
How about that interception Donovan McNabb threw when caution should have been the watchword? Or the early attempt for a two-point conversion when logic did not dictate it?
For a team to score on a kickoff return, as the Redskins ultimately did when Brandon Banks hauled one 96 yards, and still lose? It defies the odds.
Let's take a look at McNabb, victim of Halloween pranks. In each of the first two series, McNabb got stepped on as he pulled away from the center with the snap. Pressured, pummeled and pounded the rest of the way, he made the biggest mistake at the worst of times. Note to Redskins offensive line – No. 90 for the Lions is Ndamukong Suh. He needs to be blocked or he will break your quarterback. Make a note for next year.
For his part, McNabb showed a certain Halloween generosity. He gave away the football after the Lions knocked repeatedly on his door, put it right in their bag. That turnover let the Lions produce the go-ahead touchdown and two-point conversion and sent McNabb to the bench.
"You make a decision and you go with it," Shanahan said of the switch. "I don't think any quarterback likes it but you have to make those tough decisions."
When the line held (not in the sense of a holding penalty, smarty), McNabb launched a 50-yard strike to Armstrong that set up Graham Gano's 38-yard field goal that improbably put the Redskins ahead in the second quarter. Gano would add another, of 46 yards, on the final play of the first half for a 13-7 lead.
Even so, the seeds of disaster were about to bear pumpkin-sized fruit. The Redskins may have been ahead but it felt like anything but. They did not so much outplay as the Lions as survive their own worst efforts.
Sometimes, anyway. Midway through the third quarter, after a great tackle by LaRon Landry on Javhid Best to stop the Lions at the Redskins 7 and force a field goal try, Phillip Daniels crashed through the line before the Lions even considered snapping the ball. The penalty led to a first down and then the go-ahead touchdown, on Matthew Stafford's 2-yard pass to Brandon Pettigrew.
Stafford, back from an opening-day shoulder injury, would finish with four touchdown passes.
Compounding McNabb's problems was poor field position. The Redskins were always much closer to crossing their own goal line than Detroit's. When they managed to start from so privileged a spot as their own 20-yard line, Chris Cooley committed an offensive pass interference penalty and wham, the Redskins landed back at their own 10.
They think of that as their ancestral home land. They started drives at their own 10, 20, 20, and 11 in the first half. They must like it that way.
And now, a few words about their partners in crime, the Lions. That's a well-earned 2-5 record they sport. They drop passes, they drop interceptions (and Alphonso Smith will forever see an 85-yard touchdown he did not score because he did not handle a pass McNabb never should have thrown). With Redskins punter Hunter Smith spraying kicks to the sidelines way short of their intended destinations, the Lions enjoyed a tilted field.
The Lions provided the level of competition. The Redskins played to it, then got progressively worse.
The Redskins defense at least handled its business for a while. DeAngelo Hall intercepted a pass in the end zone to prevent a score, Albert Haynesworth blew up a third-and-short play and the Lions scored after Stefan Logan's 71-yard punt return put them at the Redskins 19. The Redskins contained the run and kept Calvin Johnson under control until their offense fell apart completely, the Lions sensed victory and Johnson ended up with three touchdown catches.
This is what the Redskins look like. It's not a Halloween mask. This is not a pretty face. When they line up against the NFL's better teams, they hang with them. When they face the dregs, they stoop to conquer.
Except they sometimes forget the last part. Nor do they ever seem to learn from it.
The Redskins travel to the Midwest for the second week in a row, this time to Detroit to take on the Lions on Sunday, Oct. 31 at Ford Field. Kickoff is 1 p.m. ET.
Ford Field is an indoors facility. The stadium has an artificial surface called FieldTurf and seats 65,000.
It is the second of two games the Redskins will play indoors in the regular season. They lost to the St. Louis Rams 30-16 at the Edward Jones Dome in Week 3 earlier this season.
The Redskins are 7-5 in indoor facilities in the last eight years, including 2004 and 2008 wins over the Lions at Ford Field. They have lost their last three games in indoors stadiums, however.
The Redskins are 2-1 in road games this year. They lost to the St. Louis Rams 30-16 in Week 3 and defeated the Philadelphia Eagles 17-12 in Week 4 and the Chicago Bears 17-14 last week.
The Redskins' game against the Lions is the third of four against the NFC North this season. In addition to the win over the Bears, the Redskins defeated the Green Bay Packers 16-13 in Week 5.
Detroit is coming off its bye week.
The Lions are 0-2 against the NFC East this season, with a 35-32 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 2 and a 28-20 loss to the New York Giants in Week 6.
The last time the Redskins played on Halloween was in 2004 in a 28-14 loss to the Green Bay Packers.
The game will be televised on FOX to a regional audience. Sam Rosen handles the play-by-play with Tim Ryan providing color commentary.
On radio, the game will be broadcast locally on ESPN 980 and the Redskins Radio Network. Larry Michael calls the play-by-play with former Redskins and Hall of Famers Sonny Jurgensen and Sam Huff adding color commentary. Former Redskin Rick 'Doc' Walker reports from the sidelines.
PROJECTED STARTING LINEUPS
|WR||89 Santana Moss||13 Nate Burleson|
|LT||71 Trent Williams||76 Jeff Backus|
|LG||78 K. Lichtensteiger||67 Rob Sims|
|C||61 Casey Rabach||51 Dominic Raiola|
|RG||75 Artis Hicks||66 Stephen Peterman|
|RT||69 Jammal Brown||77 Gosder Cherilus|
|TE||47 Chris Cooley||84 Brandon Pettigrew|
|WR||13 Anthony Armstrong||81 Calvin Johnson|
|QB||5 Donovan McNabb||9 Matthew Stafford|
|FB||45 Mike Sellers||45 Jerome Felton|
|RB||46 Ryan Torain||44 Jahvid Best|
|DE||94 Adam Carriker||92 Cliff Avril|
|NT/DT||96 Ma'ake Kemoeatu||90 Ndamukong Suh|
|DE/DT||64 Kedric Golston||99 Corey Williams|
|LB/DE||97 Lorenzo Alexander||93 K. Vanden Bosch|
|LB||59 London Fletcher||49 Zach Follett|
|LB||52 Rocky McIntosh||54 DeAndre Levy|
|LB||98 Brian Orakpo||98 Julian Peterson|
|LCB||23 DeAngelo Hall||23 Chris Houston|
|RCB||22 Carlos Rogers||27 Alphonso Smith|
|SS||30 LaRon Landry||39 C.C. Brown|
|FS||41 Kareem Moore||26 Louis Delmas|
|P||17 Hunter Smith||2 Nick Harris|
|K||4 Graham Gano||4 Jason Hanson|
|H||17 Hunter Smith||2 Nick Harris|
|LS||57 Nick Sundberg||48 Don Muhlbach|
|KOR||16 Brandon Banks||11 Stefan Logan|
|PR||16 Brandon Banks||11 Stefan Logan|
The Redskins-Lions series dates all the way back to when the teams were known as the Boston Redskins and the Portsmouth Spartans in the early 1930s.
The two franchises have met a total of 41 times, including three times in the playoffs, with the Redskins holding the series lead with a record of 27-11 in the regular season and 3-0 in the postseason.
From 1968 until 1997, Washington won 16 consecutive regular season games and two postseason games in the series.
In 1982, the Redskins handled the Lions 31-7 in the NFC divisional playoffs at RFK Stadium. It was the Redskins' first of four postseason wins en route to winning their first Super Bowl title.
The Redskins and Lions also played in the 1991 NFC Championship game at RFK Stadium, with the Redskins dominating 41-10 to advance to the Super Bowl.
In 1999, the Redskins and Lions played in the only playoff game ever played at FedExField. The Redskins won that game 27-13.
The two teams last played at Ford Field last year, with the Lions winning 19-14 to end a 19-game losing streak.
The Redskins' defense struggled tremendously on third downs in the game. In the first half, the Lions converted 9-of-12 third-down plays and overall they were 10-of-18 on third-down conversions.
Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford completed 21-of-36 passes for 241 yards and one touchdown. He was sacked twice, once by Albert Haynesworth and once by Brian Orakpo.
The Redskins' defense yielded 154 rushing yards, including 101 by running back Kevin Smith.
For the Redskins, Jason Campbell finished the game with 27-of-41 pass completions for 341 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. Santana Moss was his top target, grabbing a game-high 10 passes for 178 yards, including a 57-yard touchdown grab early in the third quarter.
TALE OF THE TAPE
|REDSKINS 2010 RANKINGS|
|LIONS 2010 RANKINGS|
FAMILIAR FACES ON THE LIONS
General manager Martin Mayhew played for the Redskins from 1989-92. He was a member of the Redskins' Super Bowl XXVI championship team.
Coordinator of athletic medicine Dean Kleinschmidt served as head athletic trainer for the Redskins under Steve Spurrier from 2002-03.
Head athletic trainer Al Bellamy served as an assistant athletic trainer with the Redskins from 1988-2000.
Coordinator of physical development Jason Arapoff served as a conditioning director for the Redskins from 1988-2000.
Regional scout Cary Conklin played for the Redskins from 1990-94. He was a fourth-round draft pick by the team in 1990. In 1993, he completed 46-of-87 passes for four touchdowns and three interceptions.
Special teams coordinator Danny Crossman played defensive back for the Redskins in 1990.
Fullback Jake Nordin spent 2007 training camp with the Redskins but was released by the team at the end of preseason. Nordin is on injured reserve.
REDSKINS-LIONS NEWS & NOTES
-- London Calling
London Fletcher plays in his 200th consecutive game on Sunday in Detroit.
Fletcher has not missed a game since entering the league as an undrafted rookie free agent with the St. Louis Rams in 1998.
His 199 consecutive games streak is tied for second in the NFL among active players behind Minnesota's Brett Favre (293).
Heading into the Lions game, London Fletcher has posted 158 consecutive starts, a figure which ranks fourth among active players. (Brett Favre is at 291, Peyton Manning is at 198 and Ronde Barber is at 173.)
Since joining the Redskins in 2007, Fletcher has led the defense in tackles each of his three seasons with the club. Through seven games this season, he leads the defense with 92 tackles.
Fletcher earned his first Pro Bowl selection following the 2009 season.
-- Local Connections for Lions' Schwartz
Detroit Lions head coach Jim Schwartz is a Baltimore native who attended Georgetown University in his formative years.
At Georgetown, Schwartz was a four-year letterwinner as a linebacker. He earned his degree in economics and received Distinguished Economics Graduate honors.
Schwartz began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at the University of Maryland, tutoring the Terrapins' linebackers from 1989-90.
Prior to joining the Lions last offseason, Schwartz was a defensive assistant for 10 years with the Tennessee Titans. He spent two years learning under former Redskins defensive coach Gregg Williams. He also coached alongside former Redskins assistant coaches Sherman Smith from 1999-2007 and Jerry Gray from 1999-2000.
As Tennessee's defensive coordinator from 2001-08, Schwartz guided the Titans to one of the top defenses in the league. He had current Redskins defensive lineman Albert Haynesworth on his side. Haynesworth played for the Titans from 2002-08.
-- How the Redskins' 53-Man Roster Was Built
The Redskins have 15 players on the roster that the team drafted, including 2010 first-round pick Trent Williams and 2009 supplemental draft pick Jeremy Jarmon.
Mike Sellers is the longest-tenured Redskins. He had a stint with the Redskins in 1998-2000 and rejoined the team in 2004.
Washington has used unrestricted free agency to acquire 27 players, including Casey Rabach in 2005, Andre Carter in 2006, London Fletcher in 2007, DeAngelo Hall in 2008, Albert Haynesworth in 2009 and Ma'ake Kemoeatu in 2010.
Five Redskins players were acquired as undrafted rookie free agents. This group includes offensive linemen Stephon Heyer and cornerback Byron Westbrook, both local products.
The team has acquired six players via trade: Clinton Portis, Santana Moss, Donovan McNabb, Adam Carriker, Jammal Brown and John Beck.
-- Moss Is the Man
Santana Moss has played against Detroit twice in his career, and both times he turned in great performances.
On Oct. 26, 2008 at Ford Field, Moss caught a season-high nine passes for 140 yards, including a 50-yard touchdown.
He also returned one punt 80 yards for a touchdown, a score that would prove to be the game-winning points in a 25-17 victory.
Last year, on Sept. 27 at Ford Field, Moss caught a season-high 10 passes for 178 yards, including a 57-yard touchdown.
Combined, Moss has grabbed 19 passes for 318 yards (a 16.7 yards-per-catch average) and two touchdowns as a receiver against the Lions.
-- First-Year Redskins Head Coaches
Entering Sunday's game vs. Detroit, Mike Shanahan is 4-3 in his first season as Redskins head coach.
Looking back at Redskins head coaches in their first season, five have gone on to have winning seasons (excluding Dick Todd, who was 5-4 in taking over three games into the 1951 season.)
Twelve first-year head coaches suffered losing campaigns, including Joe Gibbs's return in 2004. Additionally Herman Ball coached the final seven games in 1949 and finished 1-4, while Terry Robiskie finished 1-2 while coaching the last three games of 2000.
Eight first-year head coaches ended their seasons with a .500 record, including Marty Schottenheimer in 2001 and Jim Zorn in 2008.
-- Redskins' Strength of Schedule
The Redskins have the NFL's eighth toughest schedule in 2010, according to the NFL.
The Redskins' opponents this season produced a 134-122 record last year, a .523 winning percentage.
The Houston Texans (.547), Tennessee Titans (.547), Dallas Cowboys (.543), Cincinnati Bengals (.539), Jacksonville Jaguars (.535), New England Patriots (.531) and New York Giants (.527) have tougher schedules.
The Redskins play 11 games against teams who finished .500 or better last year. They play seven games against 2009 playoff opponents.
-- Shanahan's Moving Up
With the Redskins' Week 6 win over the Chicago Bears, Mike Shanahan recorded his 158th career win (regular season and postseason) as a head coach.
Shanahan's career record is 158-105. That win total is 16th best among all-time NFL head coaches.
He needs four wins to surpass Bill Cowher, who has a 161-99-1 career record.
-- What's Next?
The Redskins get their bye in Week 9, right in the middle of the regular season.
After the break, they return to FedExField for their third prime time matchup, this time against the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday Night Football.
In Week 4, the Redskins defeated the Eagles 17-12 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia.