At 3-1, Lions still working out kinks

The Lions are 3-1 entering Sunday's game at Washington -- after winning only three games all of last season -- but they are still working out the kinks in their offense. More news and player notes inside.

The Lions are 3-1 entering Sunday's game at Washington -- after winning only three games all of last season -- but they are still working out the kinks in their offense.

The Lions entered Sunday's game as the NFL's top passing team and 29th-ranked rushing team. They were last in rushing last season. They were expected to pass early and often against a Chicago defense missing its entire starting secondary.

But the Lions tried to establish the run, and a funny thing happened: The people who were questioning why the Lions couldn't or wouldn't run the ball questioned why they weren't throwing it.

Quarterback Jon Kitna's answer?

"The injuries to their secondary is not going to affect their pass defense," Kitna said. "Their pass defense is all based on that front four. As long as those front four are healthy, you're going to have trouble."

The Lions have wanted to run the ball more, but they also have been having pass protection problems -- nine sacks last week, six sacks this week -- and needed to keep the Bears' pass rush at bay.

"You want to establish it," coach Rod Marinelli said. "You've got to slow the rusher down a little bit and make him dig in a little bit. We work on it, and we work on it. Sometimes it doesn't look like we do. But we do. ... Where it really showed up for us was that last drive of the game."

With a 24-20 lead in the fourth quarter, the Lions ate up 5:14 with an eight-play, 62-yard scoring drive. They ran five times for 26 yards and a touchdown.

"We're going to be a good running football team," Kitna said. "I think we proved that today. But the fact is, we are a pass-first offense. Point blank, it's who we are. It's what we do best."

PLAYER NOTES

  • DT Shaun Rogers blocked a field goal. He has two blocked field goals this season. He has 11 blocked kicks, four more than anyone else in the NFL since 1991.
  • LT Jeff Backus started his 100th straight game, even though he left the previous game with a strained muscle in his side and didn't have a full week of practice.
  • RB Kevin Jones scored a touchdown for the second straight game after returning from a serious foot injury. He felt good enough to climb the wall behind the end zone to celebrate with the fans.
  • CB Fernando Bryant made his first interception since 2003, when he was with Jacksonville.
  • FB Jon Bradley, who converted from defensive tackle late in the exhibition season, carried the ball for the first time in his career. His three-yard run gave the Lions a first down in the fourth quarter.
  • WR Calvin Johnson warmed up but didn't play because of a back injury.
  • DE Kalimba Edwards warmed up but didn't play because of an ankle injury. He has missed two straight games.

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