1. We asked: Will Santana Moss play?
And we didn't think he would, which wasn't a stretch considering he was listed as doubtful. But he did warm up on the field to test his groin. It was very smart of the Redskins not to push him into a return. They won without him -- as they did against Dallas last year. They need a healthy Moss and this should help them get one.
2. We asked: How will James Thrash do? And we said: Probably OK.
As a wideout, that's about how he played. Thrash caught just two passes for 11 yards, hardly a staggering sum for someone who played all game. But Thrash did a good job blocking, as usual. And he returned a punt 62 yards. He fumbled, but it still worked out well as Rock Cartwright recovered at the 3-yard line to set up a score.
3. We asked: What happens to the passing game without Moss?
We thought they would have to work hard to get Randle El open and they did, moving him around and using him on Chris Cooley's side often. The defense ahd to pay attention to Cooley, allowing Randle El to get free. Also, the Redskins did a nice job of using Randle El's strength, which is his quickness and elusiveness. They threw short and let him run. The passing game became more varied in Moss' absence as Jason Campbell hit 8 different receivers. Detroit took away the deep routes, so the Redskins took things underneath. They threw a few screens, as we thought they would. We even thought the Redskins version of Agent Zero, Brandon Lloyd, might contribute. Lo and behold! One catch for 9 yards; hey, it's a start. The surprise was that Keenan McCardell came in and caught two passes for 39 yards. Here's what happened: Detroit's corners started playing up to take away the underneath stuff and McCardell ran two intermediate routes with success. That's good playcalling.
4. We asked: Let's get to the real question: Can Washington slow Detroit's offense?
We weren't sure, but did not think it was a guarantee that Detroit would move with abandon. Always thought the Lions had lots of holes and it showed. The only way we thought the Redskins could slow this attack was by having its front four rush well. They did. Washington never -- NEVER -- blitzed. Didn't need to. The Lions, save for two occasions, used five blockers to handle the rush and they failed. The tackles occasionally split wider to create more inside rush lanes and that worked, too. The linebackers' speed played a factor as well. They could line up a tad deeper at times, sometimes a yard or so, and take away the intermediate routes. Their speed enabled them to come up hard on the short stuff and the overall group tackled very well. The secondary deserves kudos, but it started up front.
5. We asked: Is Kitna for real?
We thought he had some traits that made him dangerous, but nobody can perform when they receive no blocking. Kitna is a good player, but he's not headed to Canton. He'll be lucky to hold up all year with that line. Jeff Backus is a horrible tackle, who has been rudely exposed two weeks in a row.
6. We asked: Who else should they worry about?
Beyond the obvious -- Roy Williams, Calvin Johnson, etc., -- we thought the running game could be a factor. The Lions wanted to spread the field and we wondered how the Redskins would handle Tatum Bell. They did just fine for a couple reasons: one, the line did its job and again the speed of the linebackers was crucial. Also, the Lions were never going to commit to a ground game. They got something going with Kevin Jones in the second half, but even in second and short they were going to throw. In most short-yardage situations, they wanted to pass. One-dimensional teams lose more often than not.
7. We asked: What matchup worries you against the Redskins offense?
We said the interior, with Detroit's DTs against the guards. Score one for Washington. Though the Lions' tackles made a couple plays, they were never a factor. We thought the Redskins would try to get them moving laterally and they did. We thought they would hit the edge more and they did. Actually, they were quite balanced.
8. We asked: Where should the Redskins attack the Lions?
We thought even without Moss that they should take their shots against a weak secondary. They threw deep once to Thrash, but Detroit took that away with their alignment. So they went underneath with great success. We also thought Clinton Portis would have a big game. He did pretty well with 70 yards on 14 carries, but he didn't hit the home run I thought he might.
9. We asked: Did the week off help Washington?
We thought it did and that's why Joe Gibbs deserves kudos for giving them extra time away. The Redskins were fresh, very well-prepared on both sides and played with energy. The week off did wonders.
10. We asked: Who will win?
We weren't impressed with the Lions; at least not in terms of anointing them anything. We thought the Redskins would win 24-21. OK, we were off, but we were right about who would win. The Lions will have a hard time winning the predicted 10 games by Kitna. Maybe he missed how bad his line was and how mediocre his defense is. But the Redskins rolled over them and that's hard to do in this league. Considering the tough stretch they have coming up, it was almost a must-win game. In their past two road games, Detroit has been outscored 90-24.
Ten Spot Review: Redskins 34, Lions 3
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