Finally, the streak is over. After dropping 21 straight road games against the Washington Redskins, and after never winning a game against them in the D.C. area, the Detroit Lions emerged victorious on Sunday by a score of 27-20. The Lions were in control for much of the game, and unlike last week, they were able to put things away late with a big touchdown and a stop at the end. As a result, the Lions are now 2-1 and in position to potentially move into first place in the NFC North.
As usual, Sunday's game opened with the Lions winning the toss and electing to receive. Also as usual, the Lions failed to do anything on their opening drive. They didn't go three-and-out despite Matthew Stafford taking a sack on the first play of the game, but they did have to punt after only moving the chains once. The Redskins followed up with a similar sequence, as they had to punt as well after picking up a couple first downs.
The Lions' shaky start on offense continued on the first and only play of their next drive. Stafford tried to throw a slant to Calvin Johnson, but he was picked off by DeAngelo Hall, who proceeded to take the interception back 17 yards for a touchdown. It was a bad throw, and Hall was simply more physical than Johnson on the play.
The Lions shook things off and got it going on their third possession of the day. What changed this time around? Well, the Joique Bell show started. He picked up 37 yards on a middle screen on third-and-10, and the Lions got an additional 15 yards on the play thanks to a roughing the passer penalty. The Lions got another timely penalty with a Washington holding moving the chains on third-and-6, and Bell picked up 11 yards on another reception a couple plays later. On the very next snap, Bell powered his way into the end zone for a 12-yard touchdown to tie things up.
Following a quick three-and-out by the Redskins, the Lions put together another touchdown drive. The Lions were able to move the ball in chunks through the air, as Johnson caught passes for 18 and 20 yards, Ryan Broyles went for 17 and Nate Burleson went for 15. Bell picked up 13 yards on the ground, and Stafford found Joseph Fauria in the end zone for a 5-yard touchdown a few players later. Fauria simply went up and got the ball, and now the Lions had a 14-7 lead.
The Redskins finally found some success on offense as the second quarter began. They put together an 80-yard drive that spanned 9 plays and 5:49. It did not produce any points, though. On the first play inside the red zone, Robert Griffin III was pressured by Willie Young and tried to throw the ball away. He ended up throwing it right to Chris Houston, though, who made the interception and gave the ball back to the Lions.
Thanks to a rough play on third-and-1 where Tony Scheffler lost a yard, the Lions went three-and-out. On the flip side, the Redskins once again had little trouble moving the ball, and this time they turned a solid drive into points. Alfred Morris scored on a 30-yard touchdown without anybody coming close to taking him down, and now the game was tied 14-14.
With a few minutes to go before halftime, the Lions were able to go down the field and take back the lead with a 32-yard field goal by David Akers. A 41-yard pass to Burleson got the Lions into field goal range, and a 14-yard pass to Broyles helped as well. Three straight incompletions to Johnson followed that sequence, leading to the field goal and a 17-14 lead going into halftime. (The Redskins were unable to do anything in the final 44 seconds thanks in part to a Ziggy Ansah sack and in spite of a stupid unnecessary roughness penalty by Nick Fairley.)
It didn't take long for the Redskins to tie things up again when the second half opened. Sam Martin helped Washington by kicking the ball out of bounds to start the half, and a 27-yard pass to Pierre Garcon moved the Redskins into Detroit territory. The Lions defense stood tough in the few plays after, though, forcing the Redskins to settle for a 43-yard field goal.
On their first offensive possession of the second half, the Lions couldn't get anything going and went three-and-out. The Redskins took over and got near midfield thanks to a questionable face mask call on C.J. Mosley. (It looked like he got Morris' neck, not the face mask, even though his helmet popped off.) A 10-yard pass right after this got Washington into Detroit territory, but another sack by Ansah moved the Redskins back 13 yards. Ndamukong Suh got great pressure to create the sack, which effectively killed the drive with the Redskins having to punt after not moving the chains on third-and-long.
The Lions got the ball back with bad field position yet again, but they were able to dig themselves out of the hole enough to at least flip the field. A 12-yard pass to Johnson and an 11-yard run by Bell moved the chains before the drive stalled near midfield. Martin was only able to punt it 35 yards down to the 20, but the Redskins quickly went three-and-out. A 63-yard punt by Sav Rocca meant that the Lions took over at their own 20, and they had another three-and-out of their own. This led to a 72-yard punt by Martin that went into the end zone for a touchback.
The Redskins were rolling after getting the ball back thanks in part to a 17-yard pass to Garcon on third-and-8. Another first down right after this put the Redskins at midfield, and a scramble by Griffin III went for 21 yards. It looked like Washington was going to put some points on the board, but RGIII fumbled the ball at the end of his run. He dove forward to give himself up instead of sliding feet first, and the ball popped out when he hit the ground. Since he dove forward, it was a live ball, and Glover Quin fell on it for a huge recovery.
The Lions quickly took advantage of the turnover with an 18-yard pass to Johnson, who made an insane catch on the sideline. On the very next play, Burleson got wide open and picked up 47 yards. The Lions were all the way down to the 10 and had their sights set on the end zone. Three incompletions later, however, Akers was out for another field goal. He connected from 28 yards out, giving the Lions a 20-17 lead.
With a chance to tie the game or take the lead, the Redskins opened their next drive with a 19-yard pass. Just three plays later, Griffin III threw a beautiful pass that was caught for a 57-yard touchdown, at least that's what the initial ruling was. Upon further review, it was clear the receiver didn't complete the process of the catch. As a result, the play was overturned. A fumble on the very next play backed up the Redskins 10 yards, and they couldn't convert on third-and-long.
There was an extreme swing in emotion with that overturned call, and the Lions used it to their advantage. They took over at their own 29, and they quickly got into Washington territory with a 16-yard pass to Bell and a 33-yard completion to Kris Durham. A 9-yard run by Bell made possible by a sweet spin move got Detroit down to the 12, and that's where they remained after two runs for no gain. This led to fourth-and-inches thanks to a bad spot on third down, but a QB sneak moved the chains anyway. Two plays later, Stafford found Johnson in traffic for an 11-yard touchdown, giving the Lions a 27-17 cushion.
Needing to score and score quickly, the Redskins put together a 13-play drive in only 2:16. They only managed to get a field goal out of it, though. They actually had first-and-goal at the 3-yard line, but the Lions stood tough and held them to a field goal. This came after Washington marched right down the field thanks in part to a ridiculous call for hitting a defenseless receiver on Rashean Mathis. It was a weak, weak call, but I guess that's just how it is in today's NFL.
Following the field goal, the Redskins tried to recover an onside kick, and they did -- just not legally. The recovery happened before 10 yards, so the Lions got the ball. They ran it three times with Bell, forcing Washington to use their final two timeouts. The Redskins ended up with less than 40 seconds left and the ball on their own 20 after a Martin punt went into the end zone, and they were unable to score on a Hail Mary to end the game. As a result, the Lions won 27-20, and they finally were able to celebrate a victory at Washington.
Next up for the Lions following this big win is a home matchup with the Chicago Bears. If the Bears lose on Sunday night, they will be in a tie for first place in the NFC North with the Lions, so next week's game is shaping up to be a pretty big one between the division rivals.