Detroit — It’s one of those small things that can unnoticed, but proof that when preparation meets opportunity, it can pay big dividends during a football game.
In the opening minutes of the Detroit Lions’ 31-23 victory over the Green Bay Packers, the Lions recovered a punt at the 1-yard line after it bounced off the ground and deflected off the shoulder of Packers cornerback Kevin King.
King made an error by showing a lack of awareness on the punt’s location and putting himself in position to be subject to a bad bounce. But the unsung hero of the play, Lions safety Charles Washington, made sure King paid for wandering into the danger zone.
Washington, a gunner on the Lions' coverage unit, took notice of where King was positioned in relation to return man Tramon Williams and gave King one good shove at the last minute toward the returner.
“It’s just common sense,” Washington said. “He’s in front of the ball, we’re parallel to the returner, from the returner, so the ball has to be somewhere right here. Either (the return man) is bluffing or the ball is right here.”
That shove was the reason the ball ricocheted off King’s shoulder pad and the Lions recovered, leading to the game’s first touchdown and setting the Packers up for a long day of frustrating mistakes.
And here’s the interesting part — Washington had practiced the exact scenario just this week.
“I actually practiced that this week, no lie,” Washington said. “I had an opportunity where the ball was close to the returner. …Good coaching by our coaches. (Assistant special teams) Coach (Devin Fitzsimmons) told me to work that and we worked it during this week.”