Woeful Washington sends slipshod Lions to a brutal defeat
Landover, Md. — The Detroit Lions' disappointing season bottomed out on Sunday with a loss to lowly Washington, 19-16.
After the Lions took their first lead of the game early in the fourth quarter, 16-13, with Matt Prater's 21-yard field goal, Washington tied the game with 1:54 remaining.
Attempting to drive for the win, Lions quarterback Jeff Driksel threw an interception with 48 seconds remaining, and a 17-yard pass from Washington quarterback Dwayne Haskins to Terry McLaurin set up Dustin Hopkins for the 39-yard game-winner.
"You’ve got to put your team in a position to win," Driskel said. "I thought the defense did a good job of giving us the ball back all day or holding them to field goals. We had a chance to go down there and win the game and just gotta take care of the ball. That’s what it comes down to, going through your reads, throwing it to the open guy and taking care of the football — that’s first and foremost the quarterback’s job. and I didn’t do that today."
That connection between Haskins and McLaurin proved to be redemption after the quarterback twice missed his leading receiver in the end zone earlier in the game.
"Stepped up in the pocket and Terry made a great play on a really good corner," Haskins said about McLaurin's matchup against Darius Slay. "He did a great job."
Things looked bad from the Lions (3-7-1) from the start.
Similar to a week ago, the defense forced a fumble on the opening drive of the game. Linebacker Devon Kennard knocked it free from Haskins, while safety Tavon Wilson scooped up the loose ball in Washington territory.
But the Lions failed to capitalize on the gift when Prater curled a 39-yard field goal wide right.
"It was pretty windy down there and I just hit it a little higher than I wanted to and it just took off on me," Prater said. "When it hit off my foot, it felt pretty good, but I should have played the wind more."
Washington responded by converting a pair of third-and-longs, including an 18-yard scramble by Haskins when the Lions blitzed on third-and-10. But the quarterback sailed a pass wide of McLaurin in the red zone, leaving Hopkins to kick a 28-yard field goal for the 3-0 lead.
"He was playing a good corner," Haskins said. "My philosophy going into that game was to never underthrow Terry because of how good the corner was. ...If I was going to miss, I was going to miss deep and out wide so he wouldn't have the opportunity to put his hands on the ball."
Haskins also said a wrist injury played into some of his accuracy issues.
The Lions knotted it up on the ensuing possession. Driskel scrambled for 18 yards, then connected with Kenny Golladay on a short pass that the receiver turned into a 34-yard gain before the offense stalled out deep in Washington territory. Prater knocked home a 24-yard field goal, making it 3-3.
It took 15 seconds for Washington to regain the lead. Rookie Steven Sims muffed Prater's kickoff, but corralled the bouncing ball, avoided a tackle attempt from Mike Ford and darted through the teeth of Detroit's coverage unit for a 91-yard touchdown return.
"He's a dynamic returner," Lions coach Matt Patricia said. "He sets some guys up and was kind of able to dip in and dip back out, but I think the initial juggling of the catch there to start kind of threw our guys off a little bit.
The sides traded field goals before the half, sending the teams to locker room with Washington leading 13-6.
Coming out of the break, the Lions tied the game at 13 behind some big runs by Bo Scarbrough and two third-down conversions through the air in Washington territory.
Scarbrough ripped off right-side gains of 11 and 30 yards before Driskel found tight end Jesse James on third-and-5 to extend the series, setting up a 12-yard touchdown toss to tight end Logan Thomas.
"We came out with a great tempo," Thomas said. "A downhill run got us a good gain and got us into the red zone pretty quickly. Guys were making plays and we were able to get six on the board. We started doing things well and just couldn't sustain."
That was the lone score in the third quarter, but the Lions dominated the time of possession, controlling the ball for nearly 12 of the 15 minutes, while outgaining Washington 157 yards to minus-3.
The Lions opened the fourth quarter at Washington's 24-yard line, but couldn't work the ball into the end zone, settling for 25-yard Prater field goal to go up, 16-13.
That score kept the team's streak alive of holding a lead in every game this season.
Washington's offense finally got something cooking, but immediately after crossing midfield, Haskins was intercepted by rookie cornerback Amani Oruwariye, who ripped the ball away from receiver Kelvin Harmon near the left sideline.
"He just ran straight at me and broke (outside)," Oruwariye said. "They ran that all game and I finally got a chance to slip under it and get my head around. We both were fighting for the ball, but I came up with it."
After the two teams traded punts, Washington tied the game with 1:54 remaining following a nine-play, 54-yard drive. Haskins again missed an open McLaurin in the end zone, sailing it over the receiver's head after he got a step on Slay.
From 42 yards out, Hopkins knocked through a low line drive, bringing Washington even, 16-16.
Working a two-minute drill, Driskel nearly threw a pick-six, heaving a back-foot throw under pressure that was dropped by cornerback Jimmy Moreland. On the next play, Driskel was intercepted by Quinton Dunbar, giving Washington the ball back at its own 46 with 48 seconds remaining.
"We had a good play on for the look," Driskel said. "Dunbar did a great job of kind of anticipating the route a little bit. and we knew that going into the week that he had a good feel for route concepts and things like that. I just gotta get my eyes out front and can’t just assume that it’s gonna be there because it’s a certain look."
After Washington took the lead with 20 seconds remaining, cornerback Fabian Moreau sealed the game, intercepting Driskel with two ticks on the clock.
Driskel completed 20-of-33 for 207 yards, with one touchdown and three interceptions. Scarbrough rushed for 98 yards on 18 carries and Golladay led the receivers with 61 yards on four catches.
The win snapped a four-game losing streak for Washington, which moved to 2-9. The loss was Detroit's fourth straight, the team's first four-game skid since the start of the 2015 season.