Schwartz shoulders blame for Lions' skid

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Schwartz shoulders blame for Lions' skid

ALLEN PARK, Mich. (AP) Detroit Lions coach Jim Schwartz admitted Monday that his team's season has ``gone off the rails'' and the progress made during last year's run to the playoffs has become a distant memory.

Schwartz, who has lost at least 10 games in three of his four seasons as Lions' coach, said the blame for the team's unfulfilled 2012 expectations rests entirely with him.

``The ultimate responsibility of the team is (with) the head coach, and I need to do a better job,'' he said. ``4-10 isn't good enough.''

Detroit's 38-10 loss at Arizona on Sunday was its sixth straight and the team's most lopsided defeat since a 48-3 loss at Baltimore in 2009. It also bucked the trend: After defeating Jacksonville on Nov. 4, Detroit lost its next five games by an average of 5.2 points, only to get hammered by the Cardinals.

Tight end Tony Scheffler said the Lions had chances to overcome four turnovers and beat an Arizona team that was riding a nine-game winless skid.

``We never thought we were out of it,'' Scheffler said following the loss Sunday. ``We just didn't make the plays to get back in it. Our defense fought hard the whole game. We didn't give them good field position. They kept us in it.''

Schwartz's assessment of the loss differed sharply. After defending his team's play in recent weeks, Schwartz said the Lions simply made too many errors Sunday to be competitive.

``We've had a lot of games this year that came down to one critical play in the fourth quarter that you look at and say, `Hey, if we made that one we would have won the game,''' he said. ``We can't be naive to think that this was one of those games.''

The Cardinals intercepted quarterback Matthew Stafford three times, two of which were returned for touchdowns. Stafford told teammates Sunday that he believed he was responsible for the loss after a 24-for-50 passing performance that was easily his worst effort of the season.

``That is about as bad as I can play,'' he said. ``For us to be successful, I have to play a whole lot better than that. I understand that.''

Schwartz praised Stafford's decision to take responsibility for the loss, saying ``that's what good quarterbacks do,'' but he also reiterated his opinion that responsibility for the team's performance ultimately rests with the coaching staff. He also said he never considered pulling Stafford.

Calvin Johnson's play was Detroit's lone bright spot Sunday. Johnson made 10 catches for 121 yards despite facing coverage that Schwartz likened to a box-and-one defense in basketball.

``(Arizona) doubled Calvin (Johnson) on just about every play,'' he said.'' They used punt coverage to try to handle him and the fact that he still had 121 yards says a lot about Calvin, says a lot about (offensive coordinator) Scott Linehan's ability to still be able to get him the ball. But we severely lacked other playmakers on the field.''

The Lions host playoff-bound Atlanta on Saturday.

NOTES: Schwartz said that CB Jacob Lacey could be out for the season after injuring his knee in the first quarter of Sunday's game. ...TE Brandon Pettigrew (ankle) and DT Nick Fairley (shoulder) remain on the active roster despite missing Sunday's loss due to injury. Schwartz said no decision has been made as to whether either player would be placed on injured reserve. ... Johnson's 121 receiving yards Sunday give him 1,667 yards for the season, putting him 181 yards from breaking the NFL single-season record Jerry Rice set with San Francisco in 1995.

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Redskins intend to be cautious with Kendall Fuller

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Redskins intend to be cautious with Kendall Fuller

Kendall Fuller could be held out until training camp later this summer as he recovers from a knee injury that cut short his junior season, Jay Gruden said.

The Redskins selected the Virginia Tech cornerback in the third round (84th overall) on Friday night.

“We feel good about his progression from his injury,” Gruden said at Redskins Park. “We think he’s going to miss rookie minicamp [next month], but there’s a chance he could be back for the OTAs [in late May]."

Gruden added: “Worst-case scenario, we think he’ll be back for training camp [in late July].”

Fuller suffered a torn meniscus in his right knee last preseason. He attempted to play through the injury for three games before opting for surgery. As it turned out, though, he injury required a season-ending microfracture procedure.

The operation was performed by famed orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews, who is also a senior medical consultant to the Redskins.

Asked if the relationship with Andrews helped the team make its decision on Fuller, Gruden downplayed the connection.

“I think every team has that information on the kid, and we felt good about his recovery,” Gruden said. “We really do. We know he’s a hard worker. We know where he is in his rehab. We’ll get him down here and help him along the way. But he’s a hard worker and he’s going to get himself ready to go.”

Gruden added: “He was too talented of a player to pass up. He can play nickel, obviously, which is a big hope for him. He can play outside. He’s got great natural football instincts at the nickel or corner position. Obviously you got great bloodlines, and I think it’s a great pick."

Strasburg, long balls power Nationals past Cardinals

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USA TODAY Sports

Strasburg, long balls power Nationals past Cardinals

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Stephen Strasburg struck out nine including seven of eight in one stretch and the Washington Nationals got home runs from Michael Taylor and Danny Espinosa in a 5-4 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals on Friday night.

Taylor's second leadoff homer of the year ended a 22-inning scoreless drought for the Nationals. Espinosa's first of the season was a two-run shot that capped a four-run fourth against Mike Leake (0-3).

Strasburg (4-0) gave up two runs on eight hits in seven innings with one walk. He has 29 strikeouts in 22 1-3 innings his last three outings. Jonathan Papelbon earned his eighth save in nine chances for Washington, which is 5-0 in Strasburg's starts.

Matt Adams hit a two-run homer off Blake Treinen in the eighth for St. Louis, who are 18-9 against Washington the last five seasons.

Leake, who got a five-year, $80 million free agent deal, gave up five runs in seven innings and has a 5.83 ERA.

Daniel Murphy and Jayson Werth had an RBI apiece in the fourth.

TRAINER'S ROOM

C Wilson Ramos (bereavement list) could return this weekend after leaving following the death of his grandfather. Manager Dusty Baker said the team would be patient, adding "death has no season."

UP NEXT

Jaime Garcia (1-1, 3.24) is holding opponents to a .198 average, among the league's best. Joe Ross (2-0, 0.54) was among just five NL starters to not allow a homer, with a minimum of 20 innings.

RELATED: NATS SEE TOUGH ROAD TRIP AS GOOD TEST FOR WHERE THEY'RE AT

McCloughan bulks up secondary by drafting Fuller

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McCloughan bulks up secondary by drafting Fuller

After the Redskins signed Josh Norman, Scot McCloughan told everyone that he would not hesitate to draft another cornerback this week.

Nobody really believed him. But he made believers out of everybody in the third round tonight when he took Virginia Tech cornerback Kendall Fuller.

He immediately jumps into a cornerback depth chart that has gone from shaky to strong in the last week. Norman and Bashaud Breeland will be the starters. Fuller could come in for nickel situations. Chris Culliver is still on the mend from a knee injury he suffered last November and his status for training cap is very much up in the air. Second-year player Quinton Dunbar will work

Spinning it forward to 2017, Fuller should be able to fit in with Breeland and Norman to form a formidable starting group of cornerbacks.

Many had Fuller rated as a first-round talent before he suffered a knee injury last season. Even after that, some thought he might be talented enough to be worth a late second- or early third-round pick. Fuller is a solid value as a late third-round pick.

RELATED: REDSKINS DRAFT VIRGINIA TECH'S KENDALL FULLER IN THE THIRD ROUND