'Skins roar past Lions

Team runs to 27-0 lead, cruises to 27-13 victory

January 09, 2000|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,SUN STAFF

LANDOVER -- The Detroit Lions spoiled Gus Frerotte's homecoming yesterday by playing like a homecoming patsy.

The Lions self-destructed early and often, making it easy for the Washington Redskins to cruise to a 27-13 victory in an NFC wild-card game before 79,411 at FedEx Field.

The victory sends the Redskins to Tampa Bay next Saturday, when they'll play the Buccaneers in the second round and find out whether they were as good as they looked yesterday.

Stephen Davis, who ran 12 times for 51 yards in the 33-17 loss to the Lions in Detroit a month ago, gained 119 yards on 15 carries on a sore ankle before leaving with a sprained knee in the second quarter. Brad Johnson passed for 174 yards and a touchdown.

But the real story of the game were how inept the Lions and Frerotte were against a Redskins defense ranked 30th in the league in yardage allowed during the regular season.

Redskins coach Norv Turner beamed, "It was as good a defensive game as we've had in a long time. It was great. The defensive line was absolutely fabulous."

Said Lions coach Bobby Ross: "Their rush was a very big part of the game. We had a real hard time up front in our protection. Gus at times didn't even have time to turn around."

The tempo was set on the first play when Greg Jones threw Frerotte for a 7-yard loss and Frerotte dislocated a finger on his left (non-passing) hand.

The former Redskin brushed off the injury. "I felt like something was wrong," Frerotte said. "It was sticking out the side, so I just popped it back in place. We called a timeout, and I went over and taped it up and continued to play."

But not very well.

"I never thought it would end up like this. It was a strange day. They played a tough and good game," Frerotte said.

The game wasn't as close as the score indicated. The Redskins had a 27-0 lead late in the second quarter and, in Turner's words, "lost some focus" in the second half.

Guard Tre Johnson was ejected in the third quarter for inadvertently hitting an official during a skirmish that started with Brad Johnson exchanging blows with Lions defensive end Robert Porcher after Porcher blocked him following an interception.

Johnson will be fined, and Turner quoted him as saying, "I guess I played the game for nothing."

The Redskins have to hope he's not suspended for next week's game, although the fact that it was inadvertent will probably limit his penalty to a fine.

"Tre's got to keep his composure," Turner said.

The Redskins probably won't have tackle Andy Heck, who tore a hamstring, for the Tampa Bay game, and they will keep their fingers crossed that Davis will return, although the running back predicted he'll be ready.

Skip Hicks, who replaced him, rushed for 46 yards on 23 carries.

The skeptics wondered if the 8-8 Lions deserved to be in the playoffs after losing their final four regular-season games, and it turned out they didn't. At least not without quarterback Charlie Batch, who watched from the sidelines with a thumb injury.

Frerotte, making his first appearance in D.C. since leaving the Redskins, was greeted by signs taunting him for suffering a concussion by banging his head against the stadium wall in 1997.

Frerotte didn't do that yesterday, but he didn't do much else, either. In the first half, he completed 7 of 17 passes for 111 yards, and 58 of those came on a Hail Mary on the final play of the half. He wound up completing 21 of 46 for 251 yards, but was sacked five times and intercepted twice.

Frerotte said he wasn't affected by all the signs.

"I just laughed about it. I couldn't believe so many people wasted their time making those stupid signs. Those kind of things cracked me up. What do they think, it's going to make me play bad?" he said.

The scouting report on Frerotte is that he isn't effective when he's hit, and the Redskins pounded him throughout the game.

"We couldn't do anything to keep the pressure off," Frerotte said.

Things quickly went from bad to worse for the Lions, who have never won a game in Washington -- in 20 tries -- and haven't won a road playoff game since 1957.

The Lions started shooting themselves in the foot on the Redskins' first series. The Lions forced Washington to punt, but Clint Kriewaldt was called for running into the kicker to give the Redskins a first down.

Four plays later, Bryant Westbrook was called for a 41-yard pass interference penalty to set up the Redskins' first touchdown. On the first play of the Redskins' next series, Davis bolted 58 yards to set up the second touchdown. An interception and a roughing-the-passer penalty set up a field goal, and a 32-yard run by Davis set up another field goal to make it 20-0.

A Frerotte fumble set the stage for a 30-yard Johnson touchdown pass to Albert Connell and it was 27-0 late in the second quarter.

There wasn't much celebrating after the game because the Redskins hit the road now.

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