Here is a drive-by-drive look at how the Lions beat the Redskins by a score of 19-14. (Note: Those of you who were in the blackout zone can watch the game on NFL.com in HD until the end of Wednesday. Just a heads up, the game won't be available during Monday Night Football.)
- The Lions got the ball to start the game and couldn't move the chains more than once, leading to a Nick Harris punt.
- Jason Hunter sacked Jason Campbell on the Redskins' first play of the game, but he grabbed Campbell's face mask in the process. That meant the Redskins got 15 free yards and an automatic first down. After that Campbell started lighting up the Lions' secondary, finding Santana Moss, Devin Thomas, and Malcolm Kelly. Eventually the 'Skins ended up inside the Lions' 10, which is when Detroit's defense finally woke up and realized they were playing a football game. Clinton Portis was pushed out of bounds at the 1 on 3rd and goal, bringing up 4th down right on the goal line. Washington decided to go for it, and DeAndre Levy and a couple others made a huge play by bringing Portis down short of the end zone. The goal line stand turned this game around completely and got the ball rolling for the Lions.
Matthew Stafford gave himself some breathing room by drawing a Washington defender offside, moving the ball to the 6. He then let his backs increase that breathing room, as Kevin Smith ran for 4 and 7 yards, and Jerome Felton had a gain of 2 in between. Smith was then dropped for a loss of 3, but Albert Haynesworth went offside on the play, giving the Lions a first down. Stafford threw back-to-back incompletions, setting up 3rd and 10. He found Dennis Northcutt for a gain of 20, however, moving the chains and putting the Lions near midfield. Smith ran for 5 yards on the following play, and then Maurice Morris went for 12 yards on the screen from Stafford. Stafford followed that up with an incompletion on a deep pass to Bryant Johnson. Smith ran for 6 yards on the next play, making it 3rd and 4.
Aside from the goal line stand, this next series of events was another turning point in this game. A pass to Will Heller was dropped, meaning it was 4th down for the Lions. Detroit was in field goal range, so Jim Zorn decided to accept an offensive pass interference call, backing the Lions up and giving them another shot to move the chains. Well, the Lions did just that, as Stafford scrambled for a gain of 21 yards. On the very next play he threw a fade type of pass to Bryant Johnson, who made a great catch in the end zone for a 21-yard touchdown, putting the Lions on top 7-0. In all, this was a 12-play, 99-yard drive that really served as Stafford's coming out party.
- The Redskins picked up a first down on a 13-yard pass to Fred Davis, and it looked like they were about to put together another good drive.
- A couple of incompletions made it 3rd and 10, though, and Santana Moss made a mistake by going down a yard short of the first-down marker. Washington didn't even entertain the thought of going for it again, so they punted the ball away to the 6-yard line, where Dennis Northcutt called for a fair catch.
- Despite being backed up near their own goal line for the second consecutive drive, the Lions' offense played outstanding. Kevin Smith ran for 19 yards, and then Matthew Stafford found Bryant Johnson for a gain of 6. Smith then ran for 2 and 16 yards, with the latter run moving the chains on third down. An illegal contact penalty moved the Lions into redskins territory, and a 24-yard pass to B.J. a couple plays later on 3rd and 7 put Detroit in position for another touchdown. Smith ran for 5 yards, putting Detroit on the Washington 14. Stafford threw an incompletion on second down, and he was sacked on third down by Albert Haynesworth, who left the game with an injury. As a result, the Lions had to settle for a field goal from 39 yards out, and Jason Hanson nailed it to give the Lions a 10-0 lead.
- For the second straight drive the Redskins came up a yard short of a first down. On 3rd and 13, Chris Cooley received a pass and picked up only 12 yards. He immediately realized what he did and showed his frustration. The Redskins had another nice punt, and thanks to an illegal block in the back penalty, Detroit started the proceeding drive at their 6-yard line again.
- A false start backed Detroit up to their 3, but once again the offense kept its cool and played well despite the poor field position. The Lions got some breathing room with runs of 6 and 2 yards by Kevin Smith, and then Calvin Johnson moved the chains by making an outstanding catch to pick up 7 yards. Matthew Stafford found Smith for 9 yards, but Maurice Morris came in and lost 3 on his first run of the game. Stafford converted another third down, though, this time finding Brandon Pettigrew for a gain of 15. Morris gained 4 yards on his next carry, but then Aaron Brown was dropped for a loss of 2. Stafford moved the chains on third down yet again, finding Bryant Johnson for 22 yards. Brown ran for 8 and went for 9 on a catch. After a couple of incompletions, Stafford found Pettigrew for another third-down conversion. Stafford spiked the ball with 20 seconds left, seemingly giving the Lions time for a couple shots at the end zone. That didn't happen, though, as Dennis Northcutt tried to make something out of nothing and was tackled inbounds, leading to Stafford killing the clock with 2 seconds left. Jason Hanson came in and connected on a 26-yard field goal, putting the Lions ahead 13-0 at halftime. (This was an 18-play drive that ran the final 6:53 off the clock.)
- The Redskins wasted little time in making something happen, as Santana Moss was wide open and caught a pass for a 57-yard touchdown just 3 plays into the second half. It looked like the Lions were destined for another meltdown, but they regrouped and remained calm.
- The Lions had to punt for the first time since the opening drive of the game, but they at least managed to pick up one first down. Looking back, though, this could have been the drive where the Lions put the game away, as Matthew Stafford hooked up with Calvin Johnson for a monster gain that would have put Detroit inside the Redskins' 5-yard line. Unfortunately the referees called offensive pass interference on Calvin, negating the big gain and essentially killing all momentum the Lions had. Calvin did push off his defender, but I've seen receivers get away with similar plays in the past. I guess the Lions aren't a team that will get those types of calls just yet. The interference basically killed the drive and led to the aforementioned punt.
- Jason Campbell fumbled the snap and picked it up at his the Redskins' 5, and it looked like he was just going to throw the ball away. Instead he found Santana Moss for a gain of 22 on a play that just made me shake my head. Campbell found Chris Cooley for a gain of 11 on the next play, and just like that the Redskins appeared to be in business. Well, after a couple Clinton Portis runs the Redskins had 3rd and 5 and Ko Simpson, who just came into the game to replace an injured Marquand Manuel, made a huge play. Simpson jumped Moss' route and picked off Campbell's pass, giving the Lions the ball at Washington's 46.
- Kevin Smith opened the Lions' drive with a 4-yard run and suffered a shoulder injury. He didn't return, which is too bad considering he eclipsed 100 yards on the day with this last carry. Aaron Brown came in and ran for no gain on second down, and Stafford took a sack on third down, leading to another Lions punt.
- The two teams traded punts on the next few drives, but the Lions kept pinning the Redskins inside their 20.
- Washington managed to move the ball enough to flip around the field position, but they still ended up punting. That is what happened on the next two drives, as both teams went three and out. The Redskins should have had an automatic first down because of a face mask penalty, which would have moved them down to the Lions' 29, but the referees picked up the flag and ruled that the Lions player only grazed Santana Moss' face mask. It was simply one of many bad calls during the game, but this time the Lions caught the break.
- The Lions finally got something going again on offense thanks initially to Calvin Johnson. Megatron picked up 9 on an end-around type of play and then caught a pass for a gain of 9 more on 3rd and 1. He picked up 18 more yards on the following play, putting the Lions at midfield. After a 1-yard run by Aaron Brown, Stafford threw a nice lob down the left sideline for Bryant Johnson. The pass ended up being overthrown, but that's because Johnson was interfered with. No flag was thrown, but we all quickly forgot about that on the next play. On 3rd and 9, Stafford scrambled to the outside and heaved a pass downfield to Johnson at the goal line. Johnson was knocked down before the pass arrived, and flags littered the field for a 47-yard defensive pass interference penalty. Maurice Morris pounded the ball into the end zone two plays later, giving the Lions a 19-7 lead. That score wouldn't change after the PAT, as the Lions went for 2 and failed to get back into the end zone.
- With just over 5 minutes left, the Redskins' sense of urgency increased and they moved the ball down the field very quickly. Jason Campbell torched the Lions' secondary, and in only 2:50 the Redskins went 72 yards and scored a touchdown on a 4-yard pass to Rock Cartwright.
- With 2:36 left in the game, the Lions only needed a couple first downs to seal their first win since 2007. Matthew Stafford picked up one of them on an awesome pass and catch to Will Heller for a gain of 24 yards, but that was the only time the Lions moved the chains. Nick Harris had to punt the ball away, and Washington got the ball back at their 22-yard line with 1:05 remaining and no timeouts.
- The 'Skins moved the chains on three straight plays, picking up 15, 11, and 16 yards before the Lions' defense came up with a stop. Campbell spiked the ball with 23 seconds left after the last completion, which was a break for the Redskins. Ladell Betts appeared to be tackled inbounds on his gain of 11, but the referees ruled he went out, saving the 'Skins quite a bit of time. Either way, Campbell finally went cold and threw a pair of incompletions that were intended for Chris Cooley. That set up 4th and 10 with 8 seconds left, and the Redskins decided to try and lateral their way to the end zone rather than just throw it up for grabs or try to pick up a first down. Santana Moss made the catch for a gain of 6, and then he lateraled it to Antwaan Randle El, who pitched it to Ladell Betts. Betts picked up 9 yards before he was brought down, but when he was the clock had already expired and the celebration had officially begun. The Lions won 19-14 and snapped a 19-game losing streak.
I outlined last week how the Lions needed to play a perfect game to finally get a win, and this was about as close as Detroit will probably get to four solid quarters with so few mistakes. Outside of that one Santana Moss touchdown, the defense contained Washington when it had to. Offensively, Matthew Stafford played a hell of a game and led the Lions to three scoring drives that totaled over 90 yards. Before he left the game with an injury, Kevin Smith had a tremendous performance, as did the two Johnsons at wide receiver. Probably the most important thing is that the Lions had zero turnovers, which proved to be costly in their first two games of the season.
There's not much else to say about this game, as the score speaks for itself. The Lions won and that is all that matters. They are now 1-2 on the season and have a chance to get to .500 next week at Chicago. The Bears are 2-1 and are coming off of wins against the Steelers and Seahawks, so this will be a tough game. Just like yesterday, though, if the Lions can play a turnover-free game where the defense contains Chicago, there is a very good chance that a new streak could start next week -- a winning one. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. on FOX.