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Final Score: Matthew Stafford’s late game heroics shine again, Lions over Washington 20-17

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The best quarterback in the NFL strikes once again.

NFL: Washington Redskins at Detroit Lions Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Washington came in to Detroit riding high on a four game win streak, and the Lions were still struggling, but winning, with their injury-depleted defense. What could give today?

First Half

The Lions took the field first, but a late throw from Stafford forced Anquan Boldin to step out of bounds just short on third down. The Lions seemed undecided whether or not to go for it early in the game, called a timeout, but ultimately decided to punt it away. Washington leaned on Matt Jones early, while Kirk Cousins found Jamison Crowder for a larger gain to get to the 50 yard line. Matt Jones fumbled on the next play, but managed to fall on the ball. On the next play, pressure got home and Armonty Bryant sacked Kirk Cousins to drive Washington back. Kirk threw it away on the next play and Washington punted it back.

Stafford’s first throw on the drive found Golden Tate for 11 yards, followed by a pitch to Zach Zenner, who got aid from Riley Reiff demolishing Josh Norman. A few plays later, the Lions faced third down, but a Stafford pass bounced off a Washington defender’s helmet high into the air and into the hands of Golden Tate, who kept the drive alive. However, the Lions drive didn’t go any farther than that, but it was just enough to put Prater in range to try for a field goal. That kick would sail wide left, though.

Washington started to roll, and the Lions began to flail on defense as Matt Jones got the ground game going and the blitz packages from the Lions failed to get home. Kirk Cousins found Vernon Davis to put Washington first-and-goal, but the next handoff to Matt Jones saw him fumble the ball into the end zone, where Tavon Wilson fell on it for a touchback.

The Lions started the second quarter by feeding Justin Forsett, who converted on two series. Holding put the Lions back, and a drop by Andre Roberts threatened to put the drive in jeopardy. However, Golden Tate got the catch and run for 27 yards, converting the first down and keeping the Lions drive alive. Pressure on Stafford threatened the drive, but he found Forsett again in his checkdown, and was just short of the first down. After Zenner got blown up, Prater came back out and made the field goal this time, giving the Lions the lead at 3-0.

On the first play for Washington, Slay nearly picked off Cousins, but failed to bring it home. Washington decided to go with Chris Thompson this drive over Matt Jones, and it paid off early. A three safety blitz got home as Rafael Bush sacked Cousins and pushed Washington back, but Darius Slay would leave for the locker room clutching his hamstring. Cousins challenged his replacement, Bademosi, and immediately found Crowder for a first down. But pressure from Ezekiel Ansah and Kerry Hyder would put Cousins off on the next few plays, and Washington kicked a field goal. Dustin Hopkins’ kick sailed high and ricocheted off of the very top of the upright. The Lions still held on to the lead.

However, the Lions went three-and-out after Stafford took a sack from Ryan Kerrigan, the Showstopper. Washington got rolling from there, with Cousins targeting receivers downfield to take advantage of the weakened secondary. Washington got into field goal range, ran the clock down and sent out Hopkins again. This time it was true, and the first half came to an end at 3-3.

Second Half

Washington received the ball to start the second half, and with Darius Slay ruled out for a return, Cousins began to punish the Lions through the air. But false start penalties would seriously hamper their drive, and Tahir Whitehead helped to force a pass out of the hands of Crowder to bring up third-and-15. Crowder’s next reception wasn’t enough to convert, and Washington punted it away.

The Lions started slow, but Matthew Stafford got up the field himself with some wheels and gained 18 yards. On the next play, Stafford went deep to Marvin Jones, who beat Josh Norman-plus-pass interference for 52 yards and put the Lions in the red zone—Norman would be badly shaken up on the play and evaluated for a concussion. Jones battled for another pass and won through sheer power to put the Lions on the one-yard line, where Zach Zenner punched it in.

Cousins and Washington got rolling again, and although the Lions had several opportunities to stop them on third down, they couldn’t get enough pressure to stop Chris Thompson on the ground. But Kerry Hyder returned to the field after an injury, and Washington put Matt Jones in. Sure enough, bad luck came to bite Jones again and he fumbled the ball again as Khyri Thornton blew up the play, and Hyder fell on top of it for another turnover.

Although the Lions got rolling towards the end zone, they would struggle and flirt with disaster. The ball was knocked out of Stafford’s hands as he was scrambling, but he managed to fall on it. Holding pushed the Lions back, and Stafford nearly fell down on third down, but he managed to throw it incomplete. Prater, however, was dead on and the Lions took a ten point lead.

With a chance for Washington to answer, the Lions defense got befuddled. Johnson Bademosi lost his man on one assignment and would get beat on more. While pressure kept almost getting home to Cousins, he’d get the ball off to avoid the sack multiple times. On one such play, he found Vernon Davis on the one-yard line just before Ziggy Ansah got home. Two plays later Robert Kelley took it into the end zone and made it 13-10.

Washington had to answer, and with a depleted defense there wasn’t much Detroit could do to stop them. As the clock ticked away slowly Cousins made pass after pass, while Chris Thompson kept the ball rolling on the ground. With just a minute remaining, Cousins faked the handoff and fooled two Lions defenders, and Cousins dashed forward for the touchdown and the lead.

With just a minute to go, Stafford took over for one more time. First he found Marvin Jones deep, then Stafford scrambled and scampered for 14 more yards himself. On the next play, Andre Roberts managed to get his hands on a ball for 20 more yards. But it would be Anquan Boldin, who is an undying cyborg or something, who caught Stafford’s 18 yard pass and fell into the end zone to give the lead back to the Lions with only 16 seconds to play.

Cousins took a deep shot on the first play, but underthrew his receiver. With three seconds to go, Washington looked to make lateral plays, but Vernon Davis got swallowed up immediately by Whitehead. The Lions held on and have now won three games straight, and snap Washington’s own win streak.