- The Washington Times - Monday, October 8, 2007

It was the signature play of a dominant day.

The Detroit Lions cut the Washington Redskins‘ lead to 14-3 late in the third quarter, forced the Redskins into a three-and-out and got the ball back at their own 8-yard line.

The Redskins’ defensive line stuffed tailback Kevin Jones for a 1-yard loss. Then defensive end Andre Carter threw tackle Jeff Backus out of the way to clear an inside lane to quarterback Jon Kitna in the end zone.

Kitna tried to spin away and quickly went down, and Carter piled on for a safety that boosted the margin to 16-3. Two possessions later, the Redskins put the game away with Jason Campbell’s touchdown pass to Mike Sellers.

The defense not only tamed the high-powered Lions but scored points — a dramatic turnaround that replaced a meltdown in the second half against the New York Giants two weeks ago with a sweet shutdown against Detroit.

“Sometimes you learn a lot more from losing than from winning,” said linebacker Marcus Washington, whose unit allowed three long second-half touchdown drives as the Giants erased a 14-point halftime deficit to win 24-17. “I think we learned a lot from that loss. If you can salvage anything from that loss, I think it is we just learned to finish a little better. We made it a mind-set.”

The defensive line kept Kitna off balance all afternoon against the Lions, who chose not to provide extra help for their five linemen — a rarity, considering that most teams provide extra blockers against the blitz-prone Redskins.

While the front was closing in on Kitna, the secondary was bumping receivers and keeping the Lions from getting any kind of rhythm for their West Coast offense.

The results were staggering.

The Lions’ longest play was for 16 yards, and they did not have a run for more than 10. The Redskins held Detroit to 144 total yards and only 1-for-10 on third-down conversions. The Lions entered as the NFL’s fourth-rated offense (387.3 yards a game) and best in passing (312.8).

Kitna completed 16 of 29 passes for 106 yards and two interceptions. His biggest strike was 16 yards to Roy Williams. Carter recorded two sacks, and the Redskins totaled five.

“When you leave us one-on-one, we are good rushers,” defensive end Philip Daniels said of a front that includes tackles Cornelius Griffin and Anthony Montgomery. “People underestimate what we can do up front.”

The Redskins’ offense held the ball for 22:14 in the first half, and the defense quickly gave Washington the ball back all day. The line did the job, and the secondary outmuscled the Lions, who had scored an NFL-record 34 points in the fourth quarter in a 37-27 win over Chicago.

“Any team that is a vertical team, a West Coast team, doesn’t like to be jammed,” said cornerback Carlos Rogers, who capped the stellar effort with a 61-yard interception return for a touchdown to make the score 34-3. “It relies so much on timing. It is on the dropback. It is all based on timing. Just like the Rams, they don’t like to be touched. If you disrupt the timing and play within the scheme of your defense, you might have a great day.”

The Redskins did just that. Rogers and Co. surely disrupted the receivers, but it was the steamrolling defensive line that paved the way.

“We tackled very well, and we were able to put pressure with our front four,” said assistant head coach-defense Gregg Williams, who added his team faces max protection more than any team in the league because of its propensity to blitz.


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