After the Washington Redskins' record hit 1-3 two weeks ago in Chicago, veteran safety Tony Peters called a special meeting of the defense.
"Early in the season, everyone was trying to do their own thing. Success (from past seasons) has a way of making people big-headed," said Peters, who had an interception yesterday as the Redskins beat the Detroit Lions, 24-3, for their second straight victory.
"The whole team lost sight of what it took to win. The past two games, we have started to come together.
"If we took an evaluation after the first four games, the defense could have looked back and said, 'We were good.' I said, 'Let's try to think we could be great.' "
If the Redskins' defense was not great yesterday, it was pretty close.
It shut out the Lions for the last 54 minutes. After Eddie Murray kicked a 33-yard field goal on Detroit's opening possession, the Lions did not earn a first down for 34 minutes.
Detroit quarterback Eric Hipple suffered through a 13-of-29 day with two interceptions. He was sacked six times, twice by right tackle Darryl Grant.
It was the 19th time in the last 20 games that the Redskins have had three or more sacks. They are 12-2 in the last 14 games in which they have registered four or more sacks. Seven times in the last 12 games, Washington held opposing quarterbacks to fewer than 50 percent completions.
"We wanted him (Hipple) to be conscious of us, and I remember one time he slipped by me, but I got a hand on his shoulder," said Grant. "He turned around and looked at me, and I knew he was thinking about us."
Washington's front four constantly was pressuring Hipple, and the linebackers collapsed the Lions' normal game plan of throwing short passes to their wide receivers and over the middle to their backs.
Right end Dexter Manley, who had one sack, giving him 7 1/2 for the season, said the Redskins' improved pass rush came from elimination of many stunts among the linemen.
"We are not trying the tricks anymore," said Manley. "Now we are just playing straight-on football and taking on our men one on one. We are definitely for real now."
When the Lions finally put together a drive late in the third quarter, on third and goal at the three, linebacker Mel Kaufman stepped in front of tight end James McDonald and intercepted at the goal line.
Linebackers Kaufman, Rich Milot and Neal Olkewicz closed quickly whenever the Lions attempted to run. The Redskins, who came into the game holding opponents to 111 yards rushing per game, fifth-best in the NFL, limited the Lions to 28 yards on 12 carries.
"It's too early in the season to say we are there, but if we keep playing like we are playing, we will be all right," said Kaufman. "The next three weeks will be a real gut check for us."