Redskins Have Issues at Ford Field
Six years ago after taking their home opener for new coach Joe Gibbs and later winning at Chicago, the Redskins and ace former Broncos running back Clinton Portis headed to Detroit to try to finish the first half of the season on a positive note.
Two years ago, after getting on a roll by winning their home opener, the Redskins and new coach Jim Zorn (who didn't face the Bears) were flying high behind Portis as they visited the Lions in Week 8.
Sunday, after winning their home opener and at Chicago for new coach Mike Shanahan, the Redskins, with ex-Broncos back Ryan Torain filling in for the injured Portis, will try to finish the first half with a winning record by beating the host Lions yet again.
Although Zorn won that 2008 game at Ford Field to complete a 6-2 first half, Shanahan would probably be thrilled to repeat Gibbs' first-year pattern instead. That's because while Zorn reversed his first eight games with a 2-6 second half, Gibbs matched his first half. While that added up to a 6-10 record in 2004, if Washington wins Sunday and follows suit with an identical second half, Shanahan would debut at 10-6 and very likely make the playoffs. No Redskins coach has ever won that many games in his first year although seasons were shorter before George Allen went 9-4-1 in 1971, Dudley DeGroot went 6-3-1 in 1944 and Dutch Bergman did the same in 1943.
The more troublesome history for the Redskins is how they have struggled against the lowly Lions in Detroit lately. After beating Detroit 18 straight times from 1968-97, Washington is just 4-3 since. Of course, the most egregious defeat came in Week 3 last year as the Lions ended a 19-game losing streak by beating the Redskins 19-14. But Zorn's 2008 team needed a punt return touchdown by Santana Moss to get past the winless Lions 25-17. And Gibbs' guys needed a touchdown by Walt Harris on a blocked punt to win 17-10 at Ford Field in 2004.
So the Redskins, who already lost by two touchdowns at St. Louis, another downtrodden team with whom they've struggled recently but which crushed Detroit 44-6, aren't looking past the 1-5 Lions -- who came within one score of the Giants, Eagles, Packers and Bears -- to their much-needed bye week.
"They beat us last year when they hadn't won in 19 straight games so you gotta go in there ready to fight," said outside linebacker Lorenzo Alexander. "It's not like we say, 'We got the Rams (or the Lions) this week, we can take it easy.' "