Lions-Washington burning questions: An early surge, a late fade and a familiar combination works its magic again for the Detroit Lions in Sunday's 30-27 win over the Washington Football Team:
Answer: It was survival.
The Lions survived Washington's first rally from a 24-3 deficit to tie the game at 24-24, and another one to tie it at 27-27 with 16 seconds left.
They were able to win it with Stafford and Prater doing what they've done best – come through in the clutch to win games. The Lions got some help from Washington on the winning possession with a 15-yard penalty for roughing the passer that gave them a first down at the 50.
Stafford followed up that penalty call with a nine-yard completion to Marvin Jones Jr. that got Prater in range to kick the 59-yard game winner.
Question: After a strong first half, giving up only a field goal, the Lions' defense gave up three TDs and a field goal on Washington's last four possessions in the second half. How much cause for concern should there be about that?
Answer: Plenty. Playing with a lead, especially a 21-point lead, should work to a defense's benefit. But the Lions still lack a consistently good pass rush, and that was part of why Washington was able to rally. They sacked Washington quarterback Alex Smith only twice.
Without a pass rush, Smith was able to complete 38 of 55 passes for 390 yards. The biggest breakdown was on a fourth and 13 in the third quarter. A 15-yard completion to Logan Thomas – an ex-Lion – gave Washington first and goal at the two.
J.D. McKissic, another former Lion, scored Washington's first TD of the game on the next play to make it 24-10 and start the comeback.
Question: How much does it take away from the win that the Lions couldn't hold a 21-point lead and had to rally to win?
Answer: It takes away nothing. Absolutely nothing. That doesn't mean there isn't work to do, but the object is to win – by any means possible.
Stafford said it best.
"Every game we win, we've got to clean stuff up," he said. "It's tough in this league. I'm not going to apologize for any."
Question: The win makes the Lions' won-loss record 4-5. Does it put them in the playoff race?
Answer: No, but it keeps them from falling completely out of it. Keep winning, and they'll be in it.