Victory with a “Capital” V

Victory with a “Capital” V

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A historical oddity was brought to the surface during Week 3 action of the 2013 National Football League season.  When the Detroit Lions defeated the Washington Redskins in a thriller on Sunday, it marked the first win in the nation’s capital for the Lions franchise and its first road win over the Redskins since 1935.

While not division rivals, the two clubs have played each other fairly regularly over the years except for the 1950s and ‘60s when they faced each other just four times.

The first game of the series between the two teams occurred in 1932 when the Lions were known as the Portsmouth (Ohio) Spartans and the Redskins, in their first season, were the Boston Braves. The Spartans/Lions strung together five straight victories over the Braves/Redskins from 1932-35. Included in that run was a 17-7 win over the Redskins in Boston on Oct. 13, 1935. That marked the last time, until Sunday, that the Lions beat the Redskins on the road. The Redskins moved to Washington D.C. in 1937.

Among the 18 road games since the Lions had last beaten the Redskins away from Motown, there were a handful of battles that the Lions came close to victory. 

Oct. 6, 1946   Washington 17, Detroit 16 … Aside from a win over the Pittsburgh Steelers in early November, this game against Washington in Week 2 was the closest the Lions came to any other victory during a miserable 1-10 season. Detroit lost in heart-breaking fashion. After rallying from a 17-7 deficit in the fourth quarter, a potential game-winning field goal was set up after a successful onside kick. However, Guard Damon Tassos’ attempt sailed low and to the right.

Nov. 11, 1956 – Washington 18, Detroit 17 … For the second time in three weeks, Washington handed a team their first loss of the season. Two weeks earlier, Washington had downed the Chicago Cardinals and on this day they handed Detroit its first blemish of the year after a 6-0 start to the season. The game was sealed when Sam Baker booted a 27-yard field with just under two minutes to play that gave Washington a big enough lead to withstand another touchdown drive orchestrated by Detroit QB Bobby Layne moments later.

Nov. 8, 1981 – Washington 33, Detroit 31 … The two teams accounted for 963 yards of offense that included 159 yards rushing by the Lions Billy Sims. But, it was a 44-yard field goal by Washington’s Mark Moseley with 43 seconds to play that provided the winning margin. The game was not determined until a last ditch 48-yard pass by Detroit fell incomplete as the clock ran out.

Sept. 20, 1992 –  Washington 13, Detroit 10 … Washington beat the Lions for the 14th straight time which marked the longest current win streak over another team in the NFL at the time. Despite a subpar effort by Washington QB Mark Rypien, the Redskins mustered enough offense thanks to Earnest Byner’s 120 yards on the ground. The Lions’ Barry Sanders was limited to a mere 34 yards on 14 carries. Detroit’s hope of snapping the dubious streak was dashed when kicker Jason Hanson missed a 49-yard field goal attempt with 1:46 remaining in the contest.

Oct. 22, 1995 – Washington 36, Detroit 30 (OT)
… Former Lions kicker Eddie Murray sent the game into overtime when he nailed a 39-yard kick through the uprights with four seconds remaining in regulation. Washington won the coin toss in overtime and drove down the field to Detroit’s 36-yard line. Rather than attempt a long field goal, Washington opted to pin the Lions deep with a punt. From there, Hall of Fame cornerback Darrell Green picked off Scott Mitchell and ran the ball back seven yards for a touchdown and win.

Overall, Washington holds a 27-13 lead in the regular season series against Detroit and has won all three playoff games versus the Lions.

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