Lions' run-and-shoot is hit-and-miss

November 05, 1990|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,Sun Staff Correspondent

PONTIAC, Mich. -- For 35 minutes, the Washington Redskins were befuddled by the Detroit Lions' run-and-shoot offense.

"We couldn't cope with it," coach Joe Gibbs said. "They ate us alive."

The Lions ran up 35 points in the first 35 minutes although one of the touchdowns was a 34-yard interception return by defensive back William White.

But the Redskins finally caught up with the run-and-shoot the final 25 minutes of regulation, holding them to three points while winning, 41-38, in overtime.

The difference?

"We had to pull our ears back and go after the quarterback and let the chips fall where they may," safety Todd Bowles said.

In the first half, Bowles said they were too concerned about Barry Sanders running the draw play.

Sanders showed he could burn them when he ran 45 yards up the middle early in the third period.

But the Lions gave Sanders the ball only 10 times -- he got 100 yards -- and the Redskins had more success trying to pressure the quarterback.

"In the first half, we were a little more passive rushing the passer because every time Sanders would flash through a hole, somebody would grab him," Bowles said.

The Redskins were helped when quarterback Rodney Peete went out with a pulled hamstring in the third period and was replaced by Bob Gagliano.

When Sanders was asked if the Lions lost momentum when Peete went out, he said: "No, I think they turned it up a notch. The momentum just changed. I don't think it was the transition we made at quarterback. It was a transition the Redskins made."

It also was puzzling that the Lions gave Sanders the ball only three times after his touchdown run and didn't give him the ball in the fourth quarter when they were trying to protect the lead.

The critics of the run-and-shoot question whether a team can hold a lead with it, and the Lions couldn't do it yesterday.

* Quarterback Stan Humphries, who was yanked by Gibbs for Jeff Rutledge in the third quarter, declined to comment after the game.

But Gibbs was quick to praise him after the game.

"We love Stan Humphries," he said. "He's a going guy who's got great talent. He's going to be heck of a ballplayer."

Gibbs made it sound as if the benching was normal for a young quarterback.

"I think it'll be a learning experience for him," he said.

When Rutledge starts next Monday night against the Philadelphia Eagles, he'll become the team's fifth quarterback starter since Joe Theismann broke his leg in 1985. The others were Jay Schroeder, Doug Williams, Mark Rypien and Humphries. All were benched at one time or another.

It was against Detroit in 1987 that Gibbs first yanked Schroede for Williams.

This year's quarterback derby may not be over yet because Rypien said last week he thinks he can start practicing this week. He injured his knee on Sept. 23.

* Rutledge said he had an premonition he might play this week.

"I told my wife earlier in the week that for some reason, I thought I was going to get a chance to play. I don't know why. I just had a gut feeling. Maybe it was wishful thinking," he said.

Rutledge isn't exactly a classic thrower and Gibbs said, "He doesn't always look real good doing things."

But Gibbs added: "He's a producer. Every time we put him in during preseason, the team just immediately took off."

Rutledge had a setback when he suffered a shoulder injury in a scrimmage in Buffalo and spent the first month of the year on the injured-reserve list.

* According to the Redskins media guide, the best previous comeback in the team history came in 1965 when Sonny Jurgensen brought the team back from a 21-0 deficit to a 34-31 victory over the Dallas Cowboys.

Jurgensen, now one of the team's radio announcers, said he couldn't remember any of the details of the game without looking at a play-by-play sheet.

A Redskins spokesman said the team will do more research today to double check the fact that it was really top comeback in the team's history.

* The two Washington players injured in the game were offensive lineman Jim Lachey (hamstring) and defensive back Alvoid Mays (shoulder). Monk was poked in the eye in the first half but came back to make 13 catches.

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