Lions’ skid: 19 and done
Redskins assist in ending streak
DETROIT - Matthew Stafford held his head down on the bench for the final snap.
Dominic Raiola couldn’t watch, either, fearing a 20th loss in a row and 100th setback of his nine-season career.
When Detroit’s leaders looked up and saw Washington was out of time, they saw what they were hoping to see yesterday.
Lions 19, Redskins 14.
“We not only got the monkey off our back, we got King Kong off our back,’’ said Lions owner William Clay Ford. “I’m hoping that this gets us over that hump and gives us a winning attitude.’’
Detroit (1-2) hadn’t won since Dec. 23, 2007, and its 19-game skid matched the second longest in NFL history. The Lions no longer have to hear about Tampa Bay’s record 26-game losing streak.
“I’ve always watched, but I’ve never been in this situation before,’’ Raiola said. “No team has been in this situation before.’’
The one benefit of losing every game last season was it gave Detroit the No. 1 pick in the draft. The Lions chose Stafford, hoping he would be the franchise quarterback it has lacked for decades. The Lions have won one playoff game and had one Pro Bowl QB since winning the 1957 NFL title.
Stafford threw a 21-yard touchdown pass to Bryant Johnson in the first quarter, drew a 47-yard pass interference penalty to set up a fourth-quarter score, and didn’t turn the ball over after throwing two interceptions in his first two games.
Stafford smiled as often as any long-suffering Lions fan, playfully sticking out his tongue toward the Detroit sideline, and looked like a 21-year-old kid having a blast.
“I’m having fun,’’ he said. “It’s a great game we get to play.’’
Following a brief meeting and prayer in the locker room, first-year coach Jim Schwartz sent his players back to the field to celebrate nine months after becoming the first NFL team to have an 0-16 season.
Washington doesn’t have the burden of a long losing streak. It does, though, have plenty of problems.
“You either want it or you don’t. A lot of these guys don’t want it,’’ Redskins cornerback DeAngelo Hall said. “They want the other stuff.’’
The Redskins (1-2) pulled within 5 points on Jason Campbell’s second TD pass with 2:36 left, but couldn’t prevent the Lions from picking up a first down that ran time off the clock and cost them three timeouts.
Washington had its last of many chances to win from its 22 with 1:05 left and failed to do much more than scare the Lions by driving into their territory.
The Redskins wasted opportunities all afternoon to avoid the embarrassment of losing to the lowly Lions. Embattled coach Jim Zorn was burned by at least two decisions. He went for it on fourth and goal from the 1 on Washington’s first drive and Clinton Portis was stopped.
“I didn’t think we’d be denied getting in the end zone and we were,’’ Zorn said. “But there was no way a team could drive 99 yards on us was my thought.’’
But Detroit did. The Lions did it on 12 plays over nearly six minutes, capping the impressive drive with Johnson’s fantastic catch on a high throw in the end zone from Stafford.
On the possession, Zorn accepted a penalty instead of leaving the Lions with a 50-yard kick. Instead, Stafford ducked to avoid a sack and ran for 21 yards to convert a third and 13 that set up his TD pass on the next play.