After a close road loss in Arizona, the Detroit Lions headed across the country to play in Washington, a place they have never won. That isn't an exaggeration. They have never beat Washington on the road. Of course, that history means nothing. What is more relevant is the fact that Washington, despite being a playoff team last year, had gotten off to a horrendous 0-2 start with their defense playing atrociously. Of course, that is a small sample size, so Washington could turn it around. Still, Detroit felt like they had a good chance to win, but they would have to do it without Reggie Bush. Fortunately, Joique Bell is all things to all people, so the Lions still had a game breaking wide receiver. Plus, Nick Fairley was back on defense, which helps.
Unfortunately, things started off poorly for the Lions, as Matthew Stafford threw a bad interception which DeAngelo Hall returned for a touchdown. When DeAngelo Hall is having a positive impact on a game, things have gone terribly awry. Later in the first, the Lions managed to make amends, as Bell rushed for a 12-yard touchdown to tie the game.
In the second quarter, Stafford nearly overthrew Joseph Fauria from five yards out, but because Fauria is very tall and athletic, he snagged it, and the Lions took the lead. Washington countered with a 30-yard touchdown run from Alfred Morris, but just before the half David Akers kicked a field goal to make it 17-14 in favor of Detroit after a half.
The third quarter saw only a Washington field goal added to the scoreboard. In the fourth, Akers added another field goal to give Detroit the slim lead once more. Later, the Lions had the ball deep in Washington's zone and had a fourth-and-one. A lot of coaches would have taken the points, but Jim Schwartz wisely decided to go for it, and it worked out as Stafford rushed for the first down. He then hit Calvin Johnson for an 11-yard touchdown. Washington got deep in Detroit's zone, but they settled for a 21-yard field goal to make it a seven point game. They got the ball again late to end the game, but had to settle for a Hail Mary attempt that fell short. The Lions held on for the 27-20 win, their first in Washington, and their first road win of the season.
This game didn't quite have as much scoring as I anticipated, but both teams got plenty of yards, with Detroit outgaining Washington 441-420. Stafford went 25-for-42 for 385 yards in another busy day for him. Bell didn't run the ball all that well, he gained 63 yards on 20 carries, but he did catch four passes for 69 yards. Johnson and Nate Burleson both had big games. Megatron had seven catches for 115 yards, while Burleson had six for 116 yards. Ryan Broyles finally returned, catching three passes for 37 yards. Also, Brandon Pettigrew isn't part of this offense anymore. The Lions only let up one sack too, which is good.
On defense, the Lions did let up yards, but they didn't let up a lot of points. Chris Houston picked off Robert Griffin III, who fumbled three times as well. The Lions recovered one of this fumbles in the fourth quarter, but Detroit can't take any credit for that. He just kind of lost the ball. Ziggy Ansah picked up two sacks, continuing to show that, perhaps, while he is raw, he can still contribute as a rookie. That's good, especially since Jason Jones will miss the rest of the season with a knee injury. Detroit is going to miss Jones, especially against the run. Somebody will need to step up.
So now, the Lions are 2-1. They've looked pretty good so far, but there are certainly issues that need to be hammered out. They could also use a healthy Bush going forward, but Bell sufficed for one week. The beginning of the season has played out interestingly in the NFC. If Detroit can get themselves moving in the right direction, they could perhaps end up making the playoffs. For now, however, all they've managed to do is finally win in Washington. It is one piece of the puzzle.