PONTIAC, MICH., NOV. 4 -- The Washington Redskins had talked to high school and college coaches as far back as last summer. They'd looked at hours of films and argued several different strategies. In the end, they played the run-and-shoot pretty much the way they thought they would, starting in one scheme, changing to several others and, finally, gambling.

Their gamble was to focus on getting pressure on the Detroit quarterbacks and not worry so much about running back Barry Sanders and the various draws, screens and traps. The Redskins mixed many ingredients into this afternoon's 41-38 victory over the Detroit Lions, but luck certainly played a role.

Just when the Redskins decided to focus a little less on Sanders, the Lions all but eliminated him from their game plan. He gained 100 yards on his 10 carries and showed the flashes of brilliance the Redskins knew were there.

But he didn't touch the ball in the fourth quarter, nor in the overtime, when the Lions received a punt in Redskins territory only to get nowhere on three downs and punt it back. For that, the Redskins should send the Lions flowers.

"The coaches just told us {linemen} to let the linebackers worry about Barry and to try to get pressure on the quarterback," ex-Lion Eric Williams said. "That seemed to work the best, but if you ask us, I don't think we really know how to play the run-and-shoot."

The amazing part is that the Lions finished with only 347 yards, but they did average 7.5 yards every time they snapped the ball. The problem was that the Redskins controlled it for almost 50 of the game's 70 minutes and had 109 offensive plays -- almost as many as the last two weeks combined.

That left the Lions with time for 46 plays and is one reason the game ended with the Redskins' offensive players on the verge of exhaustion and defensive end Charles Mann smiling and saying: "Really, I feel fresh. If I were a party guy, I'd party tonight. The offense probably has to go home and get their rest."

The Redskins prepared for the run-and-shoot by doing extra running this week and by activating pass-rush specialist Jumpy Geathers (who was in for only six plays but did get a sack). They also mixed up their lineup, rotating defensive linemen and linebackers.

And they had to make an emergency change this morning when cornerback Brian Davis was unable to play because of a sore calf.

"It was still sore," Davis said, "and you're not doing anyone any good if you go out less than 100 percent against these guys."

So the Redskins started regular corners Darrell Green and Martin Mayhew and a pair of former free agents -- Alvoid Mays, who made the team out of training camp, and Sidney Johnson, who was cut by Kansas City in training camp and signed by the Redskins three weeks ago.

Rodney Peete completed a 33-yard touchdown pass on his second throw of the day and kept the pressure on the Redskins as long as he was in the game, running for 47 yards and passing for 135. But when Peete pulled a hamstring in the third quarter, the less mobile Bob Gagliano came in and completed only five of 11.

"We saw the good and bad of that offense," safety Todd Bowles said. "They play four wide receivers whether they're up by 20 or down by 20. It's very strange and even watching a lot of film doesn't compare with seeing it in person. Things started to change when we started going after the quarterback more. You have to go in knowing they're going to hit some plays on you, but that maybe they'll make some mistakes too."

The Redskins controlled the ball enough offensively that the Lions finished three quarters with only 217 yards -- they'd had the ball for only 14 1/2 minutes. It hadn't mattered because Detroit had hit one big play after another, but in the fourth quarter when the Lions needed to hold it, they couldn't.

"I'm no expert on the rule book," Williams said. "But my guess on that offense is that it is what it is. I don't think they'd let you go out in the middle of the second half and sign three tight ends and a blocking fullback."