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Skins Own Lions

Skins Own Lions

The Redskins beat on Detroit like the Lions are rented felines.

On October 3, 1965, the Lions beat the Redskins 14-10 at Tiger Stadium. After that, the Redskins got more than even; they ran off a streak of 18 wins against them before losing 15-10 to them in the Pontiac Silverdome in 2000. Included in that 18-win roll were 10 wins while Joe Gibbs was coaching.

A lot of fans tend to look at a streak like this as a fluke but, while certainly you have to have some breaks go your way to maintain a streak like this, as we’ll see in a minute, this streak makes perfect sense when you look at the records of the two teams.

In the 17 seasons during which the teams have played since 1965--they played twice in 1991, so it’s 18 games in 17 different seasons--the Redskins aggregate record is 170-101-1, a .634 winning percentage and the Lions’ is 126-142-3 for a winning percentage of .470.

The only two times that a Washington win over Detroit could be considered an upset were in 1970, when a 6-8 Redskins team beat a Lions team that finished 10-4 and in 1995 when Darrell Green intercepted a pass in overtime and ran 10 yards into the end zone for a 36-30 win. Those Redskins finished 6-10, the Lions 10-6. The ’97 Redskins wound up a half game worse than the Lions team they defeated and in every other season the Redskins have been anywhere from one to eight games better than the Lions at the end of the year.

The streak was in its greatest jeopardy on November 3, 1990 with about ten minutes left in the third quarter in the Silverdome. Barry Sanders had just broken up the middle for a 45-yard touchdown and the Lions had a 35-14 lead. Redskins QB Stan Humphries had set up the touchdown run by throwing his third interception of the day. Humphries had had started in place of an injured Mark Rypien so when Joe Gibbs looked down the bench he saw third stringer Jeff Rutledge. He told Rutledge to start warming up.

Rutledge quickly led the Redskins on a 63-yard TD drive that pulled the Redskins within 14, but the Lions got three back on a field goal on the last play of the third quarter. It was 38-21.

Then Washington got two strokes of good fortune. First, Eric Williams sidelined Lions quarterback Rodney Peete after a hit. Second, Wayne Fontes got brain lock. OK, Fontes getting brain lock wasn’t good luck, it was one of the natural advantages of playing against a Wayne-Fontes coached team.

Regardless, during the entire fourth quarter, when just a couple of first downs strung together would have clinched the game for the Lions, when he had Bob Gagliano at quarterback, Fontes did not once call the number of his emerging superstar running back, Barry Sanders. Through three quarters, Sanders had 10 carries for 100 yards. When the game ended, Sanders had 10 carries for 100 yards. Unbelievable. After a Chip Lohmiller field goal that made it 38-24, the comeback began in earnest.

With 8:41 to go, Washington took over at its own 20 and moved smartly down the field, taking seven plays to score, a drive finished off with a 34-yard TD pass to Gary Clark. Detroit could only manage to burn two minutes off the clock and punted with 3:24 left. Washington got the ball at its own 15. Rutledge converted three third downs in moving the ball downfield, completing 8 of 12 passes, the last to Clark moving the ball to the Lions 12. Washington called its last time out with 24 seconds left. The Posse of Clark, Art Monk, and Ricky Sanders was having one of its best days ever, on the way to combining for 32 catches for 432 yards. So it was going to be four shots to the end zone to tie the game, right?

But Gibbs had seen something in the films that somehow made him think that the slow and not-so-nimble Rutledge could score on a quarterback draw. Remember, the team had no time outs left and the up the middle play would certainly burn all but a few of the remaining seconds. Rutledge seemed to take forever to make his way to pay dirt, but he did and the score was tied at 38.

Each team had a possession in overtime before the Redskins started their game winning drive. The big play was a 40-yard Rutledge to Monk connection on third and fifteen at the five. Nine plays later, Lohmiller was perfect from 34 yards out 9 minutes 10 seconds into overtime and Washington had a 41-38 win.

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You probably don't realize how effective Kirk Cousins is as a runner

You probably don't realize how effective Kirk Cousins is as a runner

Back at the 2012 NFL Combine, Kirk Cousins ran his 40-yard dash in 4.84 seconds.

Now, as far as QB 40-yard dashes go, that's not a bad number at all, but it's definitely not blazing, either. Defensive lineman Fletcher Cox, for example, ran his in 4.77 seconds that same year (while weighing 84 pounds heavier than the Michigan State signal caller), and 13 out of the 20 passers invited to the event topped Cousins' time.

That, plus the facts that Cousins isn't physically imposing and he clearly prefers to operate within the safe confines of the pocket, would lead you to believe that he's not much of a threat as a runner. But a stat — and this stat is far from an advanced one or a hidden one — indicates otherwise.

MORE: PLAYING OVER/UNDER ON SOME KEY KIRK COUSINS STATS

Over the last two seasons, Cousins has the third-most rushing touchdowns amongst quarterbacks. Cam Newton has 15 (not surprising), Tyrod Taylor checks in with 10 (also not surprising), and then there's Cousins, who rushed for nine scores in 2015 and 2016, which is good enough for a bronze medal on this particular podium (that's quite surprising).

Washington's starter has actually found the end zone with his legs more than peers like Andy Dalton (7), Alex Smith (7) and Aaron Rodgers (5) since taking over the primary gig in D.C., and all of those guys have reputations as runners that exceed Cousins'.

In fact, no one on the Burgundy and Gold has crossed the goal line as a ball-carrier more than the 28-year-old in the past 32 contests; Rob Kelley and Matt Jones are both three short of the man who lines up in front of them on Sundays.

Of course, Cousins isn't going to flatten defenders like Newton does, and he won't run around them like Taylor does. He also won't rip off big-gainers down the sideline when opposing team turns their back on him in man coverage.

But as the following highlights show, he hasn't just cashed in on one-yard sneaks the last couple of seasons, either:

All three of those plays were designed runs, and Cousins, while not exactly resembling Madden 2004 Michael Vickexecuted them perfectly. He doesn't really rack up yards — the numbers vary depending on which site you use, but the consensus is he's picked up about 150 total since 2015 — but Jay Gruden and Co. have developed a tremendous feel of when to use Cousins' feet instead of his arm in the red zone.

Sure, he's not going to show up on your Twitter timeline juking out a corner, and he won't scamper for much more than 10 yards at a time. But in a few games in 2017, Kirk Cousins is going to finish a drive with an impressive touchdown run instead of a throw, and that might shock you — even though it really shouldn't.

RELATED: RANKING THE REDSKINS ROSTER FROM BOTTOM TO TOP

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Cousins talk, back end of D

Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Cousins talk, back end of D

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, July 22, five days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond on July 27.

Timeline

The Redskins last played a game 202 days ago; they will open the 2017 season against the Eagles at FedEx Field in 50 days.

Days until:

—Preseason opener @ Ravens (8/10) 19
—Preseason vs. Packers at FedEx Field (8/19) 28
—Roster cut to 53 (9/2) 42

The Redskins week that was

A look at some of the most popular posts and hottest topics from the past week on www.CSNmidatlantic.com and on www.RealRedskins.com.

What would a fair Redskins contract offer to Kirk Cousins look like?  As it turns out, the offer the Redskins made fell below “fair” territory. But perhaps they recognized that a deal never was going to get done, not this year anyway. Cousins is content to see things unfold in 2017 and decide on a longer-term destination next year. So, the team’s offer was not high enough but there really wasn’t an offer that was going to be sufficient.

Cousins explains why he's not offended by Redskins statement—Bruce Allen raised plenty of eyebrows by detailing some of the team’s contract offer in a statement. Clearly the intent of the statement, which revealed some details that weren’t very impressive under closer inspection, was designed to turn public opinion in their favor. Cousins, appearing on the radio the next day, didn’t have a problem with it and said that Allen had told him that he would do it. As expected, plenty of fans and media types decided to be outraged in his place.

Redskins have plenty of 2018 cap room for possible Kirk Cousins offer—With the focus turning to 2018, the fact that the team will have about $60 million in cap space becomes relevant. It’s enough to give him the $35 million franchise tag and perhaps enough to match a front-loaded offer sheet if the Redskins use the transition tag. But the cautionary word is that they have at least a dozen starters and key contributors who also are set to be free agents next year. They will have to find money for them or their replacements somewhere.

Redskins depth chart preview--Safety—Cousins talk dominated the week but other topics did draw plenty of interest. The back end of the defense, with Su’a Cravens converting from linebacker and free agent D. J. Swearinger moving from being mostly a strong safety to playing free, will be under the microscope this year. Whether the defense gets better may hinge on the safety position. 

11 predictions for the 2017 Redskins offense—Does Trent Williams make the All-Pro team? How many yards for Rob Kelley? One prediction for each projected offensive starter here including how many non-receiving touchdowns for Jamison Crowder.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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