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Defense Shuts Down Lions' Passing Game


The Redskins' secondary went into Sunday's game welcoming the challenge of facing the Detroit Lions' high-powered offense.

Mike Martz's offense was ranked No. 1 in the NFL in passing yards and Jon Kitna was the league's top passer.

All week long, the Redskins' defensive backs focused on jamming the Lions' tall, rangy and speedy receivers at the line of scrimmage and staying with them in coverage.

The strategy worked.

In the Redskins' 34-3 win, strong coverage in the secondary helped the front seven log five sacks of Kitna.

Detroit mustered just 76 yards of passing offense, 144 yards of total offense and 11 first downs overall. On third-down conversions, typically passing downs, the Lions were a woeful 1-of-10 for the game.

Kitna finished with 16-of-29 completions for 106 yards and two interceptions. Shaun McDonald led the Lions' receivers with four catches for 19 yards, Roy Williams had three catches for 36 yards, Mike Furrey had one catch for 14 yards and Calvin Johnson had one catch for three yards.

"Point blank, we did not want to give up a big play and we did not want to give them any cheap yards," cornerback Fred Smoot said. "If they were going to get yards, we wanted to make them earn it."

Added head coach Joe Gibbs: "[The defense coaches] had a great plan and worked extremely hard on it."

It was a team effort in the secondary.

Carlos Rogers logged three tackles and late in the fourth quarter had an interception that he returned 61 yards for a touchdown. It was Rogers' first interception of the year and his first career NFL touchdown.

Rogers said the goal was to disrupt the wide receivers at the line of scrimmage as much as possible.

"For us, we knew we had to jam them," Rogers said. "We had to disrupt them [at the line of scrimmage], because if they get timing--they're a timing offense--they're going to make plays and get the ball down the field. So that's what we had to do on the outside, jam them."

Added Smoot, who finished with five tackles in the game: "You want to make them throw the ball where you want them to throw the ball. Get them off the field. That's the best place for them to be, on the sidelines. We kew we couldn't let them get into a rhythm."

Sean Taylor had two tackles, an interception and two passes defended. LaRon Landry had two tackles and broke up a pass. Shawn Springs was not tested much by the Lions, and he finished with two tackles in the game.

The imposing size of the receivers--Williams is 6-3, Johnson is 6-5--did not intimidate the Redskins' cornerbacks.

"They have big guys who can run and jump, but as defensive backs we have to keep our technique and play between their hands," Rogers said. "We know we can't out-jump them, but if we can play between their hands, we can get the ball out."

Smoot said another focus was to keep the Detroit offense out of the red zone.

The closest that Detroit's offense came to the red zone was the Redskins' 21-yard line in the third quarter. They settled for a 39-yard field goal by Jason Hanson, the only score for the Lions.

"That's something they've been doing with ease, driving up and down the field," Smoot said. "We came up and met them play-for-play."

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