PONTIAC, MICH., NOV. 4 -- The Detroit Lions, victimized by another late rally, didn't talk of their shortcomings. Instead, they spoke of Washington's execution in today's 41-38 Redskins overtime victory at the Silverdome.

Detroit Coach Wayne Fontes, a John McKay disciple at Tampa Bay, was not asked about his team's execution. He might have mumbled, "I'm all for it." That's the line McKay used during those dark days with the expansion Buccaneers.

Fontes was an assistant with McKay when the Buccaneers lost 26 straight in 1976-77, but the low point in Fontes's career may have been today's loss.

Chip Lohmiller's 34-yard field goal with 5:50 remaining in overtime completed a 21-point comeback. Afterward, the usually affable Fontes blurted out a short, impassioned speech about his team's "great effort" and then stormed away, refusing to take questions.

In their previous four defeats, the Lions (3-5) had blown a couple of seven-point leads and pair of 11-point cushions. They outdid themselves this time.

Barry Sanders's 45-yard run gave Detroit a 35-14 lead with 10:37 remaining in the third quarter. The Redskins appeared to be baffled by the run-and-shoot offense Detroit calls the Silver Stretch. But Sanders, the 1989 rookie of the year, touched the ball only two times in the final 34:57.

That might seem a curious strategy considering Sanders averaged 10 yards per run (100 yards on 10 carries).

"You'll have to talk to the authorities," Sanders said. "We've known all along this isn't a ball-control offense. Maybe that's a stigma of this offense."

Quarterback Bob Gagliano, who replaced injured Rodney Peete (pulled hamstring) with four minutes left in the third quarter, said the Lions tried at times to get Sanders more involved.

"We wanted to use the option, but they {blitzed two defenders} a lot," he said. "Maybe we should have gotten him the ball more. They gave us looks that are tough to run against, but anything is possible with Barry."

Peete said the Redskins adjusted their defense after Sanders scored on a burst through the middle.

"After that long run, I think {the Redskins} decided to take Barry out of it," he said. "They started bringing six and sometimes seven guys on the line. It's tough to run against that."

In those situations, the run-and-shoot should flourish. In the fourth quarter and overtime period, however, Detroit failed to get a first down in four possessions. Still, 38 points wins a lot of football games.

"They picked us apart," Pro Bowl linebacker Chris Spielman said. "They stayed with their game plan all the way and were able to execute it. We've just got to learn how to win. We haven't done that yet. Washington knows how to win. We don't."

A key to the game-winning drive was when Jeff Rutledge, on third and 15 from his 5-yard line, fired a 40-yard completion to Art Monk up the sideline. Veteran cornerback LeRoy Irvin, who was picked on all day, was the victim.

"He made a great adjustment on that play," Irvin said. "They hadn't run a pattern like that all game and, with it on the line, they did, and Monk executed."