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Skinned alive

Redskins jump out to 27-0 lead, hold on to win 27-13

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Posted: Wednesday January 12, 2000 12:43 PM

  Michael Westbrook and Stephen Davis Michael Westbrook (82) gets up for a high-five with Stephen Davis after the second of Davis' first-quarter touchdowns. Ezra Shaw/Allsport

LANDOVER, Md. (CNNSI.com) -- Twenty minutes of Stephen Davis is better than an hour of your typical running back, and it was more than enough for the Washington Redskins. It was too much for the Detroit Lions to take.

Davis came into Saturday's NFC wild-card game with a sore ankle and limped off with a sprained knee. In between, he revitalized the Redskins' running game with 119 yards on 15 carries and two touchdowns to lead Washington to victory in its first playoff game in seven years, 27-13 over the mistake-prone Lions.

"I gave Stephen Davis a game ball," coach Norv Turner said. "But he can't collect it unless he plays against Tampa."

Turner was joking, but he was also stressing how essential Davis is to the Redskins attack -- and how badly he'll be needed in next week's divisional playoff game at Tampa Bay. Davis sprained his right knee five minutes into the second quarter with the score 17-0 and will be re-evaluated Sunday. Another starter, left tackle Andy Heck, torn a hamstring and is already ruled out for the Buccaneers game.

For a few hours at least, the Redskins were able to revel in a rout that had them leading 27-0 at halftime. It was their fifth straight home victory, and now they have to do something they haven't done all year: Win a big away game.

"You don't want to get too complacent and say we've arrived, because we haven't," guard Keith Sims said. "Now we've got to go on the road."

Davis ran for an NFC-high 1,405 yards this season, but hadn't played since spraining his ankle Dec. 19 at Indianapolis. Davis was in pain as he practiced last week, and Turner was concerned that his Pro Bowl back wouldn't be able to play the entire game. Davis responded with two runs for 30-plus yards before the new injury forced him out.

"He's absolutely what makes this whole show go," Sims said.

The Lions were 8-4 following a 33-17 home victory over the Redskins last month, but lost their last five games and went only 2-7 away from the Silverdome this season.

The Lions haven't won a road playoff game since 1957 and are 0-20 against the Redskins in Washington, including 0-3 in postseason. The Lions were in the playoffs for the fifth time in seven years, but have yet to advance.

Former Redskins quarterback Gus Frerotte was heckled, and banners invited him to reprise his infamous head-butt into the wall from two seasons ago as he returned to Washington for the first time. Frerotte was essentially a non-factor because the Lions don't have a running game and his line didn't give him time to throw.

"Gus at times just didn't get a chance to even turn around," Detroit coach Bobby Ross said.

Tre Johnson Line judge Bill Leavy nearly came to blows with Detroit's Tre Johnson (left) during a third-quarter fight; Johnson was later ejected. AP  

Frerotte was sacked on the first play of the game, dislocating a finger on his non-throwing hand in the process, and had to use a timeout after the second play. He finished 21-for-46 for 251 yards and two interceptions and was sacked five times.

When Detroit beat Washington five weeks ago, the Redskins were undone by 14 penalties, five sacks and four turnovers. The rematch was a mirror image, with the Lions committing 12 penalties for 126 yards, two turnovers and allowing five sacks.

"We didn't have an answer" for the pass rush, Frerotte said. "We couldn't do anything to keep the pressure off us. It was constant all game. I can imagine that's what the Redskins felt like when they played in Detroit. ... It's like the roles were reversed."

The Redskins were nearly flawless as they scored on five of their first six possessions, although the Lions graciously helped more than once with ill-timed penalties. Washington had just one penalty, no turnovers and allowed no sacks in the 27-point first half.

"The first half, that's as good as our team can play," Turner said.

A running-into-the-punter penalty on Clint Kriewaldt and a 41-yard pass interference call against Bryant Westbrook on Washington's opening drive set up the first touchdown, a 1-yard run by Davis.

Despite the loss of Heck, Davis started the next drive with a 58-yard scamper and ended it with a 4-yard run behind Pro Bowl guard Tre Johnson.

Champ Bailey's interception and a personal foul on Lions linebacker Allen Aldridge for shoving a forearm into Brad Johnson's helmet set up the Redskins' next score, a 33-yard field goal by Brett Conway. Davis had a 32-yard run before getting hurt on the next drive, which ended with a 23-yarder from Conway.

Brad Johnson hit Albert Connell for a 30-yard touchdown to make it 27-0 with 1:19 left in the first half.

With the game essentially over, the highlight of the second half was a fight between Brad Johnson and Robert Porcher, started when Johnson retaliated after Porcher threw a block following an interception. Several players joined in, and the Redskins lost their third offensive starter of the game when Tre Johnson was ejected for grabbing an official's head and pulling off the official's cap.

"I've been watching a little of WWF," Brad Johnson said. "I felt like I won that one."

The Lions scored twice in the final 10 minutes to avoid the shutout. Ron Rice returned Lamar Campbell's blocked field goal 94 yards for a touchdown, and Frerotte hit Ron Rivers for a 5-yard TD pass on the last play of the game.

Notes: There was a humorous diversion in the second half when referee Bob McElwee couldn't turn off his microphone. For several minutes, his comments to other officials were broadcast throughout the stadium, including a reference to Tre Johnson as a "clown" for getting thrown out of the game. When a stadium aide ran onto the field to tell McElwee that his mike was on, McElwee yelled: "It's off! The switch is off!" ... The Redskins have drawn 20 pass interference penalties this season and have scored on 17 of the drives. ... Some of the bulls-eye banners that greeted Frerotte: "Use your head, Gus!!!" "Head-butt spot for Gus Frerotte" and "Aim your big cranium here!" ... Davis' 58-yard run tied a Redskins playoff record set by Timmy Smith in the 1988 Super Bowl.


 
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After the game, Washington head coach Norv Turner was eager to discuss his team's defensive effort. (132 K)
Turner says an enthusiastic crowd had a lot to do with the Redskins' victory. (128 K)
Turner looks forward to an even better performance when some key players return next week. (266 K)
Turner admits that Stephen Davis had a huge first half -- but insists the Redskins will need Davis back against Tampa Bay. (97 K)
Detroit QB Gus Frerotte feels the Redskins' pass rush stymied the Lions. (124 K)
Lions coach Bobby Ross gives credits the Redskins defensive line. (125 K)
Washington's Dana Stubblefield believes the sky is the limit for the Redskins. (69 K)
Dan Wilkinson of Washington is happy with his teammates aggressive play. (82 K)
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The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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