Loss to Lions Threatens to Send Redskins' Season Spiraling Out of Control

The Lions snap a 19-game losing streak with a 19-14 victory over the Redskins in Detroit.
By Jason Reid
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, September 28, 2009

DETROIT, Sept. 27 -- As the small crowd of long-suffering Detroit Lions fans hugged and exchanged high-fives in the stands, the Washington Redskins trudged to the visitors' locker room Sunday afternoon at Ford Field to begin what figures to be another difficult week early in a season that finds them already at a crossroads.

Players and coaches acknowledged there would be much to reevaluate in the coming days after the Lions ended a 19-game losing streak with a 19-14 victory over the Redskins in front of an announced crowd of 40,896 at Ford Field. The job status of embattled Coach Jim Zorn -- whose two questionable calls in the first quarter helped shift momentum to the Lions -- is among the issues Redskins owner Daniel Snyder might consider in assessing the team's embarrassing performance for long stretches against the Lions. It appears, however, there also are pressing football matters the team must quickly address with 13 games remaining.

Even 340 yards passing from quarterback Jason Campbell and a breakout performance from wide receiver Santana Moss (10 receptions, a personal-best 178 yards receiving and a 57-yard touchdown reception) were not enough for an offense that has been among the main targets of frustrated fans since long before Zorn arrived at Redskins Park.

On Sunday, time ran out on the Redskins as they attempted two desperate laterals on the final play of the game, ending one difficult experience and probably beginning another.

"No question, yeah, we've got some problems," free safety LaRon Landry said. "They [the coaches] do what they're supposed to do. They're putting us in position that you think would work on the field. They're putting us in position to execute.

"Even though to the public eye, the fans or the audience it looks like we ain't in the right position or we ain't making plays, they're calling the plays we think will work. But we've got to do something. We've got to get it worked out and come out and ball. And we got to hurry up and do it."

The deficiencies in the running game and pass protection present during the first two games continued to slow the Redskins (1-2) against the Lions (1-2), and there were even bigger breakdowns in an area considered to be the team's strength -- defense. Washington repeatedly gave up big plays on third down in the first half as Detroit built a 13-0 halftime lead and never trailed.

After three games, the Redskins are trying to remain confident while searching for answers to problems they never fathomed could arise.

"Let me make one thing clear: It's definitely not on one person," said Campbell, who threw two second-half touchdown passes but also had an interception that ended a third-quarter drive at midfield. "And it shouldn't be directed on Coach Zorn at all.

"We all got to uphold our part. We all participate. We all go out there and play. Every time, it's something that's here or there, and people can't put this on one person. And if you're a guy that's finger-pointing, then you're wrong."

Rookie quarterback Matthew Stafford -- the No. 1 pick in the 2009 draft -- shined in leading the Lions to their first victory since they defeated the Kansas City Chiefs on Dec. 23, 2007. Against the Redskins, Stafford never resembled the inexperienced player who struggled in his first two NFL games, directing scoring drives of 99, 74, 86 and 85 yards, respectively.

The Lions converted 9 of 12 third-down attempts in the first half and 10 of 18 in the game (56 percent). In its first two games, they went 8 for 27 on third downs (29.6 percent), ranking last in the NFL in that category. Running back Kevin Smith had 82 of his 101 yards rushing before halftime and finished with a 6.3-yard average.

CONTINUED     1        >

© 2009 The Washington Post Company