The more the Washington Redskins looked at Sunday's 41-38 overtime victory over the Detroit Lions yesterday, the more they could hardly believe what happened.
The Lions finished with only 347 yards total offense, which is remarkable in one respect. They had the ball for only 19 minutes of a 69-minute game, and even more incredibly, nine of their 14 possessions went nowhere.
On seven of those, the Lions ran three plays and punted. On another, they ran one play and fumbled. On another, they killed the clock in the final seconds of regulation play.
What does that leave?
Well, for one thing it leaves the Redskins defending a run-and-shoot offense they at times couldn't stop. For the entire afternoon, the Redskins either shut down the Lions completely or not at all.
On Detroit's five scoring possessions, the Lions ran 24 plays and gained 299 yards -- an average of 12.45 yards per play. Despite the nine quick possessions, the Lions still average a whopping 7.5 yards per offensive play.
Yet in the fourth quarter, when the Redskins were making up the last of a 21-point deficit, the Lions could go nowhere.
With quarterback Bob Gagliano subbing for injured Rodney Peete and the Lions refusing to give the ball to Barry Sanders -- who had 100 yards on 10 carries the first three quarters and nothing after that -- Detroit gained just 22 yards and had no first downs its last five possessions. Time of possession in the fourth quarter: 3:31.
"You saw the good and bad of the run-and-shoot," said Redskins defensive tackle Eric Williams, a former Lion. "It's a big-play offense and they live and die by it."
"I respect it and I don't care to see it again, thank you very much," defensive end Charles Mann said. "We had very little game plan prepared, and we were ready to change it as we went along. The main thing we did this week was a lot of extra running." Alternate Plan
The Redskins were out of timeouts and there were 24 seconds remaining when Jeff Rutledge took the snap on what turned into the game-winning quarterback draw. It was third and five on the play and Gibbs said if Rutledge hadn't scored a touchdown, he would jump up, ground the ball and call a final play.
However, if he hadn't gotten a first down, Gibbs said: "If he gets tripped up before getting a first down, we're in serious trouble. He's just going to line up and take a shot at the end zone."
Gibbs has attempted to keep the carries evenly distributed between Gerald Riggs and Earnest Byner, but on Sunday Riggs carried 21 times for 89 yards, Byner 11 times for 53. "Both of them did well," Gibbs said, "but we're going to keep it the way it is in there right now.". . .
Sanders is the first runner to gain 100 yards against the Redskins since New York's Ottis Anderson did it in Week 6 last season, rushing for 101 on 25 carries in a 20-17 victory. . . .
Center Jeff Bostic was credited with two key blocks on Rutledge's game-tying quarterback draw. Near exhaustion at the end of the game, Bostic said: "With a minute to go, I said in the huddle, 'Boys, we've only got 23 more yards to go.' " . . .
The final play that got the Redskins in position for Chip Lohmiller's game-winning 34-yard field goal came on third and seven from the Detroit 27. It was a nine-yard sweep by Riggs, the same play on which he fumbled last season in a last-second loss to Philadelphia.