Lions finally win in Washington

Lions finally win in Washington

Published Sep. 22, 2013 3:00 p.m. ET

The Detroit Lions are trying to put an end to this reputation they have for always doing the worst thing at the worst time.

Finally beating the Washington Redskins on the road is a good start.

For the first time in franchise history, after 21 losses there dating back to 1939, the Lions went into Washington Sunday afternoon and walked away with a 27-20 victory.

It gives the Lions a 2-1 start for only the fourth time in the last 13 years.

Early on, it appeared that former NFL coach Tony Dungy, now an analyst for NBC, would be proven correct once again after putting the “S.O.L. … Same Old Lions” tag on this club a week ago.

Less than six minutes into the game, quarterback Matthew Stafford threw an interception deep in his territory that was returned for a touchdown.

But this group is showing early signs that maybe -- just maybe -- it’s a little more resilient than past Lions’ teams.

The first sign of that Sunday was when Detroit bounced back from the pick-six by immediately driving 85 yards for the tying touchdown.

Asked about how the Lions responded to adversity on this day, receiver Nate Burleson said during the postgame show on the Lions’ radio network, “It says that maybe the statement that Tony Dungy made, the S.O.L., Same Old Lions, isn’t ultimately correct.

“I understand where he’s coming from. But we know how to fix and correct our mistakes. It’s going to take learning.  It’s going to take some experience and wisdom that we’ve got to instill in some of these young guys.

“But for everybody out there who is doubting us and is concerned about our mistakes, we’re not the Same Old Lions.”

This time, it was the Redskins who seemed to have misfortune hounding them every step at the end.

First, quarterback Robert Griffin III fumbled after a long run into Lions’ territory with the score tied 17-17 early in the fourth quarter. It was a rare case of the ground causing a fumble because Griffin stumbled to the turf without being touched by a defender.

Therefore, it was a fumble with safety Glover Quin recovering for the Lions at their 25-yard line.

After the Lions took the lead with a field goal, Griffin came right back and appeared to put the Redskins back in front with a 57-yard touchdown pass to Aldrick Robinson with 9:05 remaining.

Robinson, however, didn’t “complete the process” of the catch -- the rule that has haunted Lions star Calvin Johnson in recent years -- because the ball came loose when he hit the ground in the end zone.

The touchdown was negated following a review, the drive eventually stalled and the Lions ended up going in for what proved to be the winning score.

“We’ve been on the other side,” Detroit coach Jim Schwartz said during his postgame radio interview of Washington's go-ahead touchdown being wiped out. “There was no doubt in my mind that was going to be overturned.”

The football gods were certainly looking out for Detroit in this one -- about time, right? -- and the Lions took advantage of it.

The Redskins had one last Hail Mary attempt in the final seconds, but when it fell incomplete, Schwartz pumped his fist and tossed his headset to the ground.

He sounded a little emotional afterward.

“It was a gutsy win,” Schwartz said. “I’m proud of the team. I really am.”

As for ending the franchise’s losing streak in Washington on his first trip there, Schwartz said, “History and the past doesn’t mean anything to us. We keep our eyes on the present. It was good to get the win today.

"We’ll regroup really quick. We’ve got some injuries that we’re going to have to adjust to.”

One of those setbacks is to veteran defensive end Jason Jones, who is out for the season after suffering a knee injury in the second quarter.

Running back Reggie Bush didn’t play because of his knee injury, but his replacement, underrated Joique Bell, filled in nicely with 63 yards rushing and one touchdown along with four receptions for 69 yards.

Quarterback Matthew Stafford passed for 385 yards and two touchdowns with one interception. His favorite targets were Burleson (six catches for 116 yards) and Johnson (seven for 115 and one score).

RGIII and the Redskins (0-3) clearly haven’t been the same as they were a year ago when they made the playoffs, but for the Lions to go in and beat such a desperate team is significant step in the right direction.
Put those S.O.L. comparisons on hold, at least for now.


Bush made a guarantee to reporters after the game that he will be ready to play next Sunday at home against Chicago.

• Johnson reached both 500 receptions and 8,000 receiving yards in his 95th NFL game. He joins Randy Moss and Torry Holt as the only players to accomplish both of those feats in less than 100 games.

• Rookie defensive end Ezekiel “Ziggy” Ansah, who was the No. 5 pick overall in the NFL Draft, continues to make rapid progress. He overcame a concussion that forced him to miss significant practice time going into the regular-season opener. He was one of the best players on the field Sunday, making seven tackles, including two sacks for 26 yards, and forcing a fumble.