Lions, Skins pay no mind to D.C. streak

By now, the word is out. The Detroit Lions have never defeated the Washington Redskins in D.C. Zero wins, 20 losses. That might mean something (although probably not) to the current installment of the franchise if any of the 20 had happened in recent memory. Quotes from Lions' head coach Rod Marinelli, Skins' coach Joe Gibbs and more inside.

By now, the word is out. The Detroit Lions have never defeated the Washington Redskins in D.C. Zero wins, 20 losses.

That might mean something (although probably not) to the current installment of the franchise if any of the 20 had happened in recent memory. Instead, the last time Detroit visited Washington for a regular season tilt was in 1997, when the team was under the control of former coach Bobby Ross. The Lions fell, 7-30, with Frank Reich at quarterback replacing an injured Scott Mitchell.

And the team still went 9-7 that year before falling in the playoffs to Tampa Bay.

Instead, the only thing head coach Rod Marinelli and his team really seem to care about is improving its current record to 4-1 -- a first for the team since 1991, in which the team's only loss was during a visit to, you guessed it, Washington.

"No. I don't address it (to the team)," said an adamant Marinelli following Wednesday's practice. "Let me tell you exactly why: I think it has zero impact. If it had some impact, I'd address it. The amount of impact is, by the time they've warmed up in a game, they won't even think about it. You're thinking about playing, and it takes me way out of everything we're trying to teach.

"Just one snap at a time; nothing means nothing other than that snap. I don't even talk about it."

That has been part of Marinelli's mantra since arriving in Detroit, and as evident in the team's fourth-quarter explosiveness and ability to respond to last week's disastrous loss at Philadelphia, it seems to be working.

A win at Washington would not only solidify the Lions as a team to be reckoned with in 2007, but it would also shed another bond between the franchise and its losing history.

One reporter asked tight end Casey FitzSimmons if he was even aware of the streak.

"No, I don't," he responded.

"Do you know how many times the Lions have won at Washington?"

"Not a clue."

"Zero."

"Well, we're going for one right now."

Added kicker Jason Hanson: "When you know that a team has gained confidence simply because the Lions are showing up and they think they can beat you, now that's disappointing. That reflects poorly on all of us walking in there, especially those of us who have been here for a while."

Quarterback Jon Kitna shrugged off the streak as nothing more than a fairy tale.

"All that stuff doesn't have any bearing on us playing there," Kitna said. "It makes for a good story. It does. It's something that people can talk about. The reality is for this football team, the last 10 years there's been a lot of teams they haven't beaten.

"You can have a new rallying cry every week, or you can focus on what you do."

Interestingly, the Lions have also never defeated Redskins' coach Joe Gibbs, a one-time assistant in Detroit. After returning to the coaching ranks after an 11-year hiatus, Gibbs also brought along his 12-0 record against Detroit -- including his team's 41-10 thumping of the Lions during the 1991 NFC Championship Game.

But like Marinelli, Gibbs wasn't paying any mind to the past.

"In the NFL today that means absolutely zero," said Gibbs in regards to Detroit's winless streak against the 'Skins. "I'll give you an example. Two years ago we were 10-6, went to the playoffs and thought we had a real good football team coming back, and we go 5-11. Just completely a huge disappointment for all of us here.

"I think what you're witnessing right now in the league, you're seeing some teams that play great one week and score a ton of points; they come back the very next week and almost get shut out. What this is, is that teams are well balanced, they're well coached; everybody has got a chance to beat everybody else. I think anything that comes up in the past ... all that stuff is out the window.

"A lot of those players in Detroit have nothing to do with that, they don't even know what you're talking about probably. Certainly a lot of our players here, it's the same. They had nothing to do with most of that, and I think this is going to be an all out effort by both teams. That's what we're preparing for, a real struggle for us anyway and I think we've got a lot of respect for them. That's what we're gearing up for."


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