All the fuss over Mike Shanahan, Albert Haynesworth, Donovan McNabb and other high-profile actors get the vast majority of attention in Washington, but the Redskins' offense is struggling because the guys up front can't protect the quarterback.
That was certainly the case in Sunday's 37-25 defeat in Detroit that completed Washington's first half of the season -- including victories at Philadelphia and Chicago, losses at St. Louis and Detroit -- with a 4-4 record. The Lions sacked McNabb five times and backup Rex Grossman once, for a fumble and Detroit touchdown on his first snap, to improve to 2-5. Detroit is just 4-35 the last three seasons, but two of those victories have come over the Redskins.
McNabb was benched for Grossman on the Redskins last potential go-ahead drive.
McNabb was sacked four times alone in the first half Sunday and pressured on plenty of other snaps. Shahanan replaced Jammal Brown, a two-time Pro Bowl pick for New Orleans, with former undrafted rookie Stephon Heyer at right tackle. Earlier, longtime left guard Derrick Dockery had been benched in favor of neophyte starter Kory Lichtensteiger.
Rookie left tackle and right guard Artis Hicks are also new to the Redskins, but the sacks and the hits on McNabb keep coming. Center Casey Rabach, the line's only holdover, got his feet entangled with those of McNabb's twice on the first five snaps, causing the quarterback to go down.
Washington took its last lead, 25-20 on a 96-yard kickoff return touchdown by rookie Brandon Banks with 8:05 left, but 3:37 later, McNabb foolishly threw into traffic and was picked off by Alphonso Smith at the Washington 37. Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford, back from a Week 1 shoulder injury, and receiver Calvin Johnson connected for their third touchdown of the day seven plays later.
Here are some more thoughts on the game.
• A week after becoming the first player in nine years to intercept four passes in a game, Washington cornerback DeAngelo Hall got position on Johnson in the end zone and picked off Stafford's pass to end the Lions' first scoring threat in the first quarter. The interception gave Hall the league lead with six. Johnson ran through Hall's tackle to take a short pass from Stafford into the end zone for the game's first points with 11:54 left in the first half. Johnson's touchdown was his fifth in Detroit's last four games. He added another to put the Lions up on top 20-18 with 8:21 remaining before scoring the game-winner with 3:17 to play.
• The first quarter was owned by the defenses as the Lions gained just 42 yards, the Redskins 19.
• The Redskins failed on their first five third downs, extending their streak to 14 dating back to the first half of last week's game at Chicago. Washington wound up 2 of 14 on third downs today.
• Four plays after 5-foot-6 Stefan Logan set up Johnson's touchdown with a 71-yard punt return, the 5-7 Banks returned the subsequent kickoff 47 yards. McNabb ran 36 yards on the next play. Two plays later, McNabb connected with running back Ryan Torain for the game-tying 7-yard touchdown pass.
• Detroit defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, the No. 2 overall pick in April's draft, sacked McNabb twice in three plays during the second quarter. Suh's 6.5 sacks are the most for any NFL rookie. Suh finished the scoring by returning Grossman's fumble for a touchdown.
• The Lions had first half possessions start at the Washington 43 and 49 and their own 40 and 43 but didn't follow with any points.
• McNabb's 50-yard bomb to Anthony Armstrong late in the second quarter was his NFL-most sixth completion of at least 50 yards this season. Four plays later, Smith, who had been burned by Armstrong, dropped a sure interception in the right flat that would have been a long touchdown if he had held onto the ball.
• Torain, who had rushed for 100 yards in each of the previous two games, departed in the third quarter with hamstring, leaving rookie free agent Keiland Williams as Washington's only running back. Williams' first career touchdown put Washington on top 19-14 with 11:20 left.
Watch highlights from Sunday's game: