Redskins' Defense Gives Kitna, Lions Pause

By Paul Tenorio
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, October 8, 2007

On his first pass of yesterday's game against the Washington Redskins, Detroit Lions quarterback Jon Kitna completed a 12-yard slant to wide receiver Roy Williams, prompting Williams to say after the game he thought it was going to be business as usual for one the NFL's best passing offenses.

But three plays later, Redskins defensive tackle Cornelius Griffin burst through the offensive line to sack Kitna and end the drive, foretelling the struggles Kitna and the Lions offense would have all game.

Kitna, who entered with the most passing yards in the league this season, struggled to stay on his feet throughout the game. And when he did stay upright, the Redskins' pass defense blanketed his receivers.

As a result, Detroit's passing attack was dismal, netting just 76 yards in the 34-3 loss.

"That's not who we are," Kitna said. "You give them credit today. They did a great job of playing coverage and we couldn't ever crack it."

Kitna had been a model of efficiency coming into the game, completing 71 percent of his passes for 1,227 yards and a quarterback rating of 105.6. But he showed no signs of that early-season form, completing 16 of 29 passes for 106 yards with three fumbles and two interceptions, one of which was returned 61 yards for a touchdown by cornerback Carlos Rogers. Kitna finished with a passer rating of 34.6.

"They dropped seven or eight guys in coverage the whole day, and when that happens you've got to sustain drives by hitting things underneath and things like that to try to get them out of that, and we just didn't do it today," Kitna said. "We didn't do what was necessary to be successful today, and we just have to look at it hard, look at ourselves and figure out a way that when teams do this to us we can still be successful."

Kitna remained out of sync in the second half.

With the Lions down 11 points in the third quarter, Kitna took a snap on his 7-yard line and dropped back to pass. His first option was covered and, as he stood in his end zone waiting for someone to get open, defensive end Andre Carter burst through the line. Kitna felt the pressure and tried to spin away, but his right foot slipped, and he collapsed to the turf, giving the Redskins a safety.

Carter's sack was one of five on the day for a defense that pressured Kitna on nearly every pass. Kitna refused to blame his line for the offense's struggles, however, instead defending the group.

"It's not all them," Kitna said. "It's a lot of what the defense is doing, and I've got to get rid of the ball sometimes. There are a lot of different factors that go into it. I'm confident in them."

The safety would prove to be a turning point, and Kitna and the Lions continued to struggle.

Trailing 24-3, Kitna threw an ugly interception that floated down the middle of the field, where safety Sean Taylor fielded it like a punt. Then, with the game out of reach in the fourth quarter, Rogers jumped an out route and returned the interception for a touchdown, putting an exclamation point on the Redskins' victory -- and Kitna's outing.

Kitna tried to remain positive after the game, saying he believed the Lions would be able to recover and that, at 3-2, they have no reason to panic.

"Anytime you lose like this it's hard to swallow 'cause you just feel like you didn't put your best effort out there," Kitna said. "The positive is that it's just one loss. You just move on to the next game. We just suffered [a loss] like this two weeks ago, and we'll just bounce back. We've got to."

© 2007 The Washington Post Company