Yes the defense gave up 441 yards and allowed 27 points, but this loss doesn’t fall on the defense’s shoulders. With the defense scoring 7 points of their own, the offense only had to score 21 points for the win, yet they couldn’t accomplish that at home. No one will point to this as some great defensive stand, but this was for the most part the defense we saw from the Redskins last year, when they won 10 games and the NFC East.
Last year the Redskins were a bend but don’t break type of defense who would come up with big turnovers and hold opponents inside the Red Zone, and that is what we saw on Sunday. It maybe wasn’t as good as the Redskins 7 game winning streak last year, but it was close. DeAngelo Hall‘s interception return for a TD, spotted the offense 7 points and made the rest off this game manageable for the offense. The Redskins offense only needed to score 21 points, something they did in 12 games last season (even in games where they got a defensive TD they typically topped 21 points on offense). They were at home and going against a defense that had given up 25 and 24 points the previous two weeks to the Cardinals and Vikings, two offenses that were hardly tops in the league.
The defense maybe gave up a lot of yards, but twice inside the 15 yardline the Redskins held the Lions to field goals, to keep the game manageable. That is exactly what we would typically see out of the Redskins defense last year, forcing field goals a couple times a game opposed to TD’s. Last year the offense could match those FG’s with TD’s giving the Redskins the advantage, but on Sunday, they were only able to match them with field goals, and they had no real answer to the Lions TD’s with the exception of a lone Alfred Morris run.
This game was really decided in the 3rd quarter, as the Lions were up 17-14 as the 2nd half started. Due to a kick out of bounds the Redskins had the ball on the 40 yard line. They were able to move it down to the Lions 25 yard line, but couldn’t get any farther and had to settle for a field goal. It did tie the game, but it was the perfect opportunity to take the lead. The defense held the Lions on their possession to a 3 and out, giving the Redskins the ball back on their 27 yard line. After a facemask penalty on 2nd down, the Redskins had 1st and 10 from their own 43. They managed 16 more yards, but had to punt from the Lions 41 yard line. They held the Lions again, but went three and out on their final drive of the quarter. The defense did their job one final time in the quarter holding them to another 3 and out, but the Redskins couldn’t score on their first drive of the 4th quarter (Griffin fumble). That sequence of drives really decided the game. The Redskins defense holds the Lions three straight times including two 3 and outs, and the Redskins offense can’t score a single time after holding them. On offense the Redskins had excellent field position the first two drives of the 2nd half, but only were able to muster 3 points. By failing to capitalize on the excellent field position and the defense holding the Lions, the offense kept the Lions in the game, which against this defense is going to equal a loss.
Now this of course doesn’t absolve the defense from their issues, but they definitely don’t deserve the blame they’ve been getting for this third loss. The defense won the time of possession battle, 3rd down conversion battle and did their part forcing a turnover and scoring. The offense failed to capitalize with the greater time of possession and 3rd down conversion percentage. They also lost the turnover battle by giving it back to the Lions twice. The offense also failed to convert Robert Griffin III‘s would be TD pass to Aldrick Robinson, and they committed a number of key penalties that wiped out big gains. The offense consistently hampered themselves and lost a game that the defense gave them a chance to win. This is not a game they would have likely lost last year, and really shows the difference between the two teams. If this offense can’t score 21 points, against marginal defenses (especially at home), this team won’t win many football games. This has to be changed and the offense has to again be the focal point of this team if they are going to save their season.