Washington Redskins lose to Detroit Lions, 37-25; Donovan McNabb replaced by Rex Grossman

Donovan McNabb is pulled from the fourth quarter, and Detroit defeats Washington 37-25.
By Jason Reid
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, November 1, 2010; 12:05 AM

DETROIT - Many questions arose from the Redskins' latest horrible experience here against the Detroit Lions, whose 37-25 victory Sunday afternoon could again prompt change in Washington.

Although the Redskins' poor performance in front of an announced crowd of 42,329 at Ford Field will not trigger the organizational upheaval that occurred after Detroit's 19-14 win last season - a victory that ended the Lions' losing streak at 19 games - adjustments appear necessary quickly. The Redskins begin their bye week in search of answers after mistakenly believing they were beyond that point.

"We worked so hard during the week, we studied so hard, and we were ready, so to come out with an 'L' after all this . . . it's frustrating," fullback Mike Sellers said. "We just need to stop playing down to our competition."

Detroit exposed Washington's flaws in pulling away with a 23-point fourth quarter. Washington's offensive line struggles have been glaring at times, but the Lions took things to another level, sacking starter Donovan McNabb a season-high six times, backup Rex Grossman once and pounding both throughout the game, which Washington led by five points midway into the fourth quarter.

Detroit capped the high-scoring quarter when Grossman, who replaced McNabb with 1 minute 50 seconds remaining because Coach Mike Shanahan believed he gave Washington the best chance in its hurry-up offense, fumbled while being sacked. The Lions' standout rookie defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh (two sacks) returned the ball 17 yards for a touchdown.

The Redskins' secondary often has been burned for big plays in the first season of the defense's transition to a 3-4 base, and Sunday was no exception.

Lions second-year quarterback Matthew Stafford continued his success against the Redskins, throwing a personal-best four touchdown passes - including three to star wide receiver Calvin Johnson - to help Detroit (2-5) rally for the win. Stafford - the No. 1 overall pick in the 2009 draft - played in his first game since suffering a separated passing shoulder in a Week 1 loss to the Chicago Bears. Stafford, who received an ovation to start the game, struggled for long stretches, but threw for 212 yards in improving to 2-0 against the Redskins.

The Redskins (4-4) had only one healthy running back in the second half. Third-string back Chad Simpson, who has been slowed the past two weeks by a hamstring injury, was inactive. Starter Ryan Torain, promoted after Clinton Portis was sidelined by a severe groin injury, sat out the second half with a hamstring problem of his own, leaving rookie Keiland Williams to shoulder the load in the running game.

Washington committed costly penalties, extending drives that resulted in points for Detroit. The Redskins wasted an outstanding performance from rookie return specialist Brandon Banks, who averaged 35.5 yards on six kickoff returns. Banks had a 96-yard touchdown and another long score was nullified by a penalty.

And then there's the McNabb situation.

Obviously, the 12-year veteran has struggled during his first season in Shanahan's West Coast scheme. And last season with the Houston Texans, Grossman worked under Redskins offensive coordinator and play-caller Kyle Shanahan in the offense Mike Shanahan designed.

Still, Shanahan stirred surprise along the sideline when he replaced the six-time Pro Bowler in favor of Grossman to run the two-minute offense. "I felt with the time, and no timeouts, he was the best chance to win in that scenario," Shanahan said. "Just knowing the terminology of what we've done, how we run it, puts a lot of pressure on the quarterback that hasn't been used to that terminology. I thought that was the best scenario for us to have a chance to win."

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