Questions Remain Regarding Mike Shanahan's Decision To Bench Donovan McNabb

In yet another sign of a contradiction, offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan said he told Donovan McNabb he might sit him if he wasn't playing well because of his hamstring injury. McNabb, however, said he hadn't heard about that.

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Donovan McNabb Wants Everyone To Move On After Benching

Donovan McNabb just made his weekly radio appearance on ESPN 980, I'll give you two guesses what they talked about, and the first two don't count ...

Yes! Of course they still wanted to talk about his benching two weeks ago in Detroit. That's all anyone wants to talk about, even to Clinton Portis on his weekly radio appearance. But there is someone out there who doesn't want to talk about Donovan McNabb getting benched anymore; Donovan McNabb.

According to Ryan O'Halloran at CSN Washington, McNabb just wants everyone to move on.

“It happened and whatever the circumstances may have been, let’s move on.”

Agreed. I think we're all sick of hearing about either Shanahan's latest excuse, or how McNabb is going to react to it. I follow football to watch the game on Sunday, not hear about all the infighting that takes place in the Locker Room in the days in between. If the team has accepted what happened and is ready to move on, so am I. Hopefully everyone adheres to that as well. Apparently McNabb and the coaching Shanahans cleared all this up over the bye week:

“We had talked after the game and we were able to [clear] the air and talk about a few other things,” McNabb said. “[Monday] was a welcome back [meeting] and talk about what we need to do to get this thing going in the next eight weeks.”

There's a big game this week against the Eagles, I'm sure Donovan would like to focus on that. So I'm with Donovan, let's just move on everyone.

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Report: Redskins Scouting Elite College Quarterbacks

Scouting is an important part of building a franchise. Good scouts means a good draft which translates to good depth all over the roster. There are so many NFL caliber players on Division I caliber rosters that there is no way to know who the scouts are in attendance to see. It's a normal part of the NFL season and it happens every year. Having said that ...

The Redskins had scouts in attendance last week to watch the game between Stanford and Washington, teams that have arguably the top two quarterbacks who are eligible for the upcoming draft, according to Peter King.

The Redskins were among the teams that scouted the Washington-Stanford game Saturday in Seattle. I don't want to make too much of that, but with Andrew Luck and Jake Locker as first-round prospects, it's interesting, and perhaps telling (perhaps, I stress), that a team with Donovan McNabb in-house would be scouting a game with two quarterbacks likely to go high in the April draft.
I'm glad King made a point to stress how this doesn't say anything concrete about the Redskins' plans regarding Donovan McNabb. This is just a team doing their due diligence, and if they have an opportunity to take one of these players they have to at least consider it; whether McNabb is on the roster or not.

The Redskins have taken a look at a lot of high profile quarterbacks recently (be they collegiate or professional bust), and that seems to indicate that they have a want to upgrade that position. But it is important to remember that this is just a team doing their homework, and it doesn't say anything definite about the future. But it sure is interesting.
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Kyle Shanahan Says The Redskins Told Donovan McNabb They Might Pull Him; McNabb Disagrees

You can add yet another contradiction to the list of contradictions we're hearing out of Redskins Park this week. Speaking with reporters today, offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan shot down the idea that Mike Shanahan was questioning Donovan McNabb's conditioning as a reason for him being pulled. However, he and McNabb contradicted each other on their communication leading up to gametime.

First, though, Kyle Shanahan did his best to clarify Mike Shanahan's remarks yesterday indicating McNabb's "cardiovascular endurance" was a reason he was pulled from the game. Via CSN's Ryan O'Halloran.

Kyle said his father's use of "cardiovascular endurance" as a reason why McNabb was pulled in favor of Rex Grossman, "came off wrong for him."

"I know why [the benching] happened and how we've all talked and then I hear from friends, my wife, from you guys, the ["Monday Night Football"] ticker, that's it because of ‘endurance problems,'" Kyle said. "But endurance isn't because he doesn't work hard. It's because you can't work hard when you can't go full speed.

"When you got a guy that has two pulled hamstrings, you can't go full speed, And when you can't go full speed for six days, you aren't going to be at your best. The way it came off, I felt like it was an insult to Donovan. ... To say that a guy can't be in because he isn't in shape is wrong."    

So according to Kyle Shanahan it was about McNabb's hamstrings, not his conditioning. However, here's where the confusion comes into play. Kyle Shanahan said that he actually informed McNabb that "we're going to have to go in a different direction" if "we do feel you’re struggling in the game." However, when McNabb was asked about that on his ESPN 980 show, he simply said "I didn't hear that." He also said he didn't want to know he might get pulled coming into the game anyway.

"Why go into the game with any other things on your mind?" McNabb said.

Two days later, and it still doesn't look like everyone is on the same page.

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Donovan McNabb Says There's A '100 Percent Chance' He Will Be Redskins' Quarterback Next Season

Donovan McNabb just made his regular appearance on his ESPN 980 show with Kevin Sheehan and Thom Loverro, and while he mostly deflected questions about Mike Shanahan's decision to bench him for Rex Grossman with two minutes to go in last Sunday's loss to the Detroit Lions, he did make a firm statement about his future in Washington.

McNabb, of course, is in the last year of his contract. When asked about whether he would be the Redskins' quarterback next season, McNabb said there was a "100-percent" chance. 

McNabb acknowledged that he said "100 percent" in part because "if I had said 75 or 60, it would have been another big story." However, he did say "that will be something we'll see" on his next contract. McNabb said his contract negotiations are going similarly to Peyton Manning's out in Indianapolis. He said that "both sides are communicating," when asked whether there was more urgency on his end or the team's end.  

As for his thoughts on Shanahan's decision, McNabb told reporters that while he was a little surprised by being benched, he accepted it because it was the coach's decision. He was also asked about reports that he has poor practice habits, and shrugged those off. Via John Keim of the Washington Examiner.

"Well you can ask these guys how I work and my work ethic. My work ethic has never been a question. My tempo has never been a question. There'ss a lot of digging going on right now, miscellaneous digging. When situations happen like this people start to reach for stuff that's not there. It's really not a question to even answer. There's nothing more I can say."

Sheehan and Loverro read the comments by Chris Mortensen and Tim Hasselbeck to McNabb on the air, and a stunned McNabb responded "I haven't heard anything to that effect. That's a new one."

As for the claim that Mike Shanahan planned to sit him if he struggled in that situation, McNabb said he wasn't aware of that. He also had this to say to the suggestion that he might have been too hurt to play, via Keim.

"You have to play. There's a difference being hurt and injured. And my team relies on me to be there. I want to be there for my team and if I can't walk then I can't go. That's just the way I play. No matter if you're banged up or what you have to be in there. Coach makes the decision. I can only say how I feel and what I feel is best for me."

He also reiterated that he doesn't have any problem with Mike Shanahan, offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan or Grossman. He even said he went out to dinner with Grossman last night, calling them "good friends." When asked about the Redskins bringing in JaMarcus Russell for a workout, McNabb said that Russell is a "great guy" with a future in the NFL, and that "it was good to see him.

McNabb closed by saying that he and Shanahan have talked since the decision, and says he is just ready to move on. 

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Mike Shanahan Responds To Reports That He is Displeased With Donovan McNabb's Practice Habits

Mike Shanahan just spoke to the media and responded to reports that he was displeased with the way Donovan McNabb conducts himself in practice. On the surface he appears to shut down those claims, but after reading what he said a few times, I'm not so sure.

Mike Shanahan says way too many rumors and speculation, likes McNabb's tempo and practice habits, says he wouldn't share it with us.less than a minute ago via Twitter for Android

So at first he says he is pleased with McNabb's work ethic, but then he immediately says that if he wasn't happy with it that he wouldn't tell the media. I feel like that kind of discredits what he said about liking McNabb's habits in the first place.

I appreciate his efforts to keep everything in house, but his attempt at transparency totally discredits what he is trying to do. I'm not saying that Shanahan actually doesn't like the way McNabb practices, I'm just saying that I'm not totally believing him when he says he has no problem with it. Why would he even include that last part unless there was something that he was deliberately not telling us?

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Former Teammate Tim Hasselbeck Criticizes Donovan McNabb's Practice Habits

So far there have been about a hundred different reasons listed for why Mike Shanahan decided to pull Donovan McNabb from the Lions game in favor of Rex Grossman. First it was his understanding of the two-minute offense, then a few lingering injuries, his cardio-vascular endurance, maybe even who he was planning on voting for on election day today.

On Monday, we added another reason to the list. Chris Mortensen came out with a report saying that Shanahan benched McNabb in part to send a message about his lackadaisical practice habits. On Tuesday, Tim Hasselbeck, a teammate of McNabb's while he was with the Eagles, confirmed that McNabb's tempo during practice has been a problem in the past; via Pro Football Talk.

"I was a teammate of Donovan McNabb's in Philadelphia," Hasselbeck said on Mike and Mike in the Morning. "One of the things that drove them crazy in Philadelphia was the lack of tempo at which he practiced. . . . It was always something where you're leaving the quarterback meeting and it would be, 'Hey, listen, the head man wants a little more tempo today.' Nearly every single day. That's been the deal with Donovan McNabb. I know exactly what Mike Shanahan is talking about."

Donovan McNabb always seem so calm and collected, but I guess there are times where that attitude is more of a hindrance then a help. Mike Shanahan is anything but relaxed, so I can believe that he might he might take issue with a player who isn't going full speed in practice. Donovan McNabb responded:

McNabb: "My work ethic has never been a question. My tempo has never been a question. People are doing a lot of digging right now."less than a minute ago via twidroid

I said it yesterday and I'll say it again today, this thing is not going away any time soon. The only thing that can cure this is for McNabb to be able to get back out onto the field and win games for the Redskins, but with a bye week coming up on the schedule he won't have that chance for a little while. Get ready for a week and a half of stories about practice habits ...

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ESPN Report Insinuates That Shanahan's Benching Of McNabb Could Be Personal

The talk of the town has been Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan's decision to bench starting quarterback Donovan McNabb near the end of Sunday's loss to the Detroit Lions. Shanahan said that his decision to bench McNabb in favor of Rex Grossman had to do with Grossman's handle on the two-minute offense as well as McNabb's conditioning capabilities. But according to a report from ESPN's Chris Mortensen via NBC's Pro Football Talk, the issue could be personal.

Mortensen reports that Shanahan and his son, offensive coordinator Kyle, are not pleased with how McNabb practices at a tempo much slower than they prefer. Mortensen also calls Shanahan's displeasure with McNabb the "worst-kept secret in the league." Because of the upcoming bye week, Monday Morning Quarterback will last for two weeks. Prepare to make a groove in your armchair. 

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Mike Shanahan Says He Would Still Have Benched Donovan McNabb For Rex Grossman

What a strange, strange press conference Mike Shanahan gave just now. The majority of the 23-minute exchange dealt with Shanahan's decision to bench Donovan McNabb for Rex Grossman in the final two minutes of yesterday's loss to the Detroit Lions. On that front it appears Shanahan is changing his story a bit, which we'll discuss more below. Nevertheless, the big news is this: Shanahan affirmed that, if he had to make the decision again, he would still bench McNabb for Grossman. 

The rationale, however, seems to have changed a bit. Yesterday, after the game was over, Shanahan said McNabb was healthy enough to play and that he made a gut decision to sit him because he felt Grossman knew the terminology better. Today, Shanahan said he actually thought about potentially making the move earlier in the week, and added that McNabb's poor health (he had been nursing a hamstring injury) was a big factor in his decision.

Referencing McNabb's "cardiovascular conditioning" multiple times, Shanahan said he did not feel McNabb was in good enough condition to properly run a two-minute drill, which he defined as having no timeouts with the length of the field to go. He said that while Grossman hadn't practiced running a two-minute drill either, he was "in good shape" and was better-equipped to do so in that situation due to his experience in Houston.

"When you are calling plays in a two-minute drill ... two plays in advance, and you're working on your cardiovascular [condition] ...  it's really hard to do that," Shanahan said. "I thought it would be in the best interest to go in a different direction."

Shanahan said he actually sat down with McNabb earlier in the week and asked him if he was healthy enough to play in the game. McNabb was nursing a hamstring injury and didn't practice much during the week, but he said he was willing to go. But one day after saying it was a gut decision to bench McNabb, Shanahan admitted he had decided earlier in the week that he would bench McNabb if a two-minute drill like that ever came up.

"If it was a situation with no timeouts, when we had to move the length of the field with no timeouts, I thought it would be in the best interest to not have him play," Shanahan said.

However, Shanahan said he did not talk to McNabb about that, saying he didn't want to worry him.

"You're hoping you're not going to be in a two-minute situation," he said.

Shanahan said he did tell some people before the game that he was planning on sitting McNabb in that situation, but declined to elaborate on which people he told. 

"I did talk to some people.  I'm not going to tell you who I talked to, because once I go down that road, I open up a Pandora's Box," he said.

All this said, Shanahan reaffirmed that McNabb is the team's starting quarterback. When asked about how this affects McNabb's future with the team, Shanahan said it changes nothing, and that they will continue to talk to McNabb's agent to try to get a long-term deal done.

"We all know Donovan is a franchise quarterback," he said.

[HT to ESPN 980 for broadcasting the press conference]

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Redskins Vs. Lions: Players Thought Donovan McNabb Was Hurt, Rex Grossman Calls Own Plays

This whole Donovan McNabb getting bench things is getting weirder and weirder. Here are a few of the more recent developments that are making this story more complex then we originally thought. The first is from Rich Campbell.

Just got back from #Redskins open locker room. Each player we spoke to, except Rex, thought McNabb was hurt. That tells you something.less than a minute ago via TweetDeck

I think I know what that "something" is. Most players on the sideline can tell when a player is replaced because he is not performing well, or if another player gives them a better chance to win the game, as Coach Shanahan described it. If the first reaction players had to seeing Grossman on the field was that McNabb must be hurt, they must not have thought that Grossman was out there because he gave the team a shot in the two minute drill. Like everyone else who was watching the game, the players weren't sure why McNabb got pulled, and that doesn't speak very positively about the decision Shanahan made.

The second tweet is from Ryan O'Halloran, and it is even more alarming then the first.

Five quickies from #Redskins: 1. Grossman said he called the plays during his two possessions. Doesn't appear McNabb has such freedom.less than a minute ago via web

Even if Coach Shanahan thought that Grossman had a better grasp of the two minute offense, that doesn't explain why he was allowed to call his own plays when the starting quarterback doesn't have that freedom. Either McNabb doesn't have a very good handle on the offense, or Coach Shanahan has a ridiculous amount of trust in Grossman. Either way it doesn't bode well for the Redskins quarterback situation.

This thing is getting more strange by the moment. From these to tweets, it seems that Shanahan is the only one who has that kind of confidence in Grossman, and that he appears to trust him more then he does McNabb in crunch time. What exactly is going on here?

This thing isn't over, not by a long shot. We'll have all the updates as they become available.

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Redskins Vs. Lions: More Comments From Mike Shanahan On Benching Donovan McNabb

Something tells me this whole benching of Donovan McNabb situation hasn't fully played itself out yet. This certainly won't be the last we here of it. We already talked about some of the comments Mike Shanahan made about it during his post game press conference, but we didn't mention a quote that I found particularly interesting, via Mike Jones at TBD.

“You’ve got to be there,” Shanahan continued, elaborating on the message he hoped it sent to McNabb. “You’ve got to understand that you can’t think, you’ve got to react. The scenarios that we’re in, in those two minutes, you make a decision and you go with it. He understands that it’s got to be automatic and you’ve got to call two plays at a time. He understood why I did it, I think he did. I don’t think any quarterback likes it, but he understands.”

Since it's my job to find stories in things that may not appear to be all that newsworthy, I'm going to try and read between the lines of what Shanahan said here. He had previously said that Grossman had a better understanding of the hurry up offense then McNabb did and now he is saying that he needs a guy out there who would just react, instead of taking the time to think things through.

I guess he thinks that McNabb spent too much time hanging onto the ball in yesterday's game, and that taking a sack that late in the contest would destroy any chance they had of making a comeback. We saw McNabb take a very untimely sack on the fourth down play right before he came out of the game, and i don't think Shanahan was willing to allow that to happen on the next drive. Obviously it didn't turn out that way, but I'm assuming those were his intentions.

It's odd to criticize a player with as much experience as McNabb has for his approach to the game, but the whole situation was abnormal.

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Donovan McNabb Says He's Preparing As If He's Still The Starter

In his post-game press conference earlier, Mike Shanahan said he benched Donovan McNabb in favor of Rex Grossman because Grossman was more familiar with the Redskins terminology, not because McNabb was no longer his starting quarterback. When asked about that in his post-game press conference, McNabb said he's preparing as if he is still the starter.

"Anything can happen in the NFL. I've been through a situation like this before," McNabb said, referencing his benching in Philadelphia in 2009. "But I'll continue to focus as if I'm a starter."

McNabb said he definitely wanted to be on the field, but otherwise deflected questions about his coach's decision. If he was upset about Shanahan's decision, he sure didn't show it. It was a remarkably professional way of handling things.

"He makes the decisions," McNabb said. "He's the head coach. I just continue to go with it and just cheer for my team."

McNabb said he still has confidence in his ability to pick up this system, and said he believes his teammates and his coach do too. He also said that he wishes he could have been out there, because a quarterback's true measuring stick is in his ability to execute a two-minute drill. But otherwise, he took the benching in stride.

"When you get benched, you get benched," he said. "You just have to learn from it and move on. The past really makes no difference right now. You just have to do what's called for you to do."

McNabb also said that he's called his own plays thus far this year when in the game during a two minute drill. However, Grant Paulsen of 106.7 The Fan is reporting that Kyle Shanahan actually calls the plays in those situations, so the quarterback isn't on his own.

(Once again, all quotes via CSN's "Redskins Postgame Live").

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Mike Shanahan On Decision To Bench Donovan McNabb For Rex Grossman: 'Rex Gave Us The Best Chance To Win'

You knew that the first thing Mike Shanahan would be asked after the Redskins' 37-25 loss to the Lions would be about his decision to pull Donovan McNabb in favor of Rex Grossman. Shanahan himself knew it too, and cut off the first question to address the issue. Reiterating that McNabb would still be the starter going forward, Shanahan said he felt Grossman was the better guy to play in that situation.

"I felt with the time, with no timeouts, Rex gave us the best chance to win in that scenario," he said.

Shanahan said that he felt Grossman was more familiar with the Redskins' terminology in two-minute scenarios, because of his time with Houston last year. In a situation where the Redskins needed to make quick calls, Shanahan said he felt McNabb would struggle because he is not as experienced with the system.

"Everything is sped up when you don't have timeouts.  It's got to be automatic," Shanahan said.

"People forget how quick things are in that two minutes," Shanahan said. "It's like learning a new language."

Shanahan said that McNabb understood the decision, and said that McNabb is still the team's starter going forward. When asked whether this is a poor reflection on McNabb's ability to pick up the offense, Shanahan said it wasn't and that picking up a new offense takes time. In a snippy tone, Shanahan also said that he doesn't think it means anything that McNabb was benched. 

"Are you asking me if we played poorly," he said, before cutting off all questions. "Yes, we did." 

[Quotes via Comcast SportsNet's "Redskins Postgame Live" show].

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Redskins Vs. Lions: Ndamukong Suh Scores For Lions' On Rex Grossman's First Play Of 2010

Rex Grossman hasn't played a single snap in 2010. Mike Shanahan entrusted Grossman though with the Redskins' final chance to steal a win in Detroit. With less than two minutes remaining in a hotly contested game that included five lead changes, this was a new development that no one expected.

Washington started what we thought would be their final drive on their own 30-yard line. And then, a surprisingly fresh face entered the field: Rex Grossman.

Donovan McNabb remained on the sideline, and does not appear to have suffered any injury. He was likely removed purely for ineffectiveness. As it turns out though, Grossman was not any more effective.

On his first play of 2010, Grossman was sacked by Kyle Vanden Bosch and dropped the ball just as he was preparing to make a throw. The ball was recovered by Ndamukong Suh, who easily ran into the end zone for the first touchdown of his short career.

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Redskins Vs. Lions: Detroit Gets A Field Goal After Washington Turns It Over On Downs

Given the way this game has gone, it shouldn't be surprising that Donovan McNabb wasn't able to put a game-winning drive together. Given the ball with a 28-25 deficit, McNabb and the Redskins couldn't even get a first down, as McNabb was sacked on fourth and 10. 

Luckily for the Redskins, the defense held the Lions on three plays, forcing a 32-yard field goal from Jason Hanson. The Redskins will get the ball back with 1:50 left trailing 31-25. They have no timeouts left.

The Redskins' drive did have a couple surprises, though. On first down, Trent Williams was called for holding on a questionable call, since it looked like he just fell down. Then, on second down, it looked like Anthony Armstrong was bumped off his route by a Lions defensive back on a deep pass attempt. Finally, the Redskins elected to go for it on fourth and 10, despite having two timeouts and 2:15 left. McNabb ended up getting sacked.

The Lions can now close this game out with a touchdown, or even a first down. It's kind of surprising, given those circumstances, that Mike Shanahan elected to go for it instead of punting the ball away.

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Redskins Vs. Lions: Calvin Johnson Scores His Third Touchdown Of The Game

The best player on the field today without a doubt has been Calvin Johnson.

Johnson grabbed his third touchdown of the game, a career record for him, to give the Lions a lead late in the fourth quarter. This was the fifth lead change of the game.

The Lions started with the ball on Washington's 37-yard line after an interception by cornerback Alfonso Smith. Donovan McNabb had targeted Anthony Armstrong on the play, but Smith, who has four interceptions in his last five games, jumped the route and fought the ball away from Armstrong. It was not a pretty throw by McNabb, as Armstrong had four Lions within a few feet of him.

Detroit then used 4:32 of clock time driving the ball down the field. The drive was extended by yet another costly penalty on the Redskins. Just when the Lions seemed to be losing momentum, a penalty on Kareem Moore gave the team yet another first down.

Following Johnson's touchdown grab, the Lions elected to go for two. They converted to increase their lead to three points as Matthew Stafford found Bryant Johnson in the end zone.

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Redskins Vs. Lions: Brandon Banks' 96-Yard Kickoff Return Gives Washington The Lead

Brandon Banks has clearly been the Redskins MVP this game. He's set the Redskins up with great field position a number of times, and had a 95-yard kickoff return called back due to a penalty. Now, we know for sure that Banks has been the key for Washington.

Banks finally broke one, racing 96 yards on a kickoff return to give the Redskins a 25-20 lead. He found a seam right away and made an excellent move on the kicker to take the ball outside and go to the end zone. This time, there were no flags on the play.

It's the first time a Redskins player has returned a kick for a touchdown since 2006, when Rock Cartwright ran one back for 100 yards against the Dallas Cowboys. It's pretty unbelievable to think that Banks was nearly cut out of training camp. Mike Shanahan has found some diamonds in the rough in the past, and it's clear Banks is the latest.

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Redskins Vs. Lions: Calvin Johnson's Second Touchdown Gives Detroit A 20-19 Lead

When Keiland Williams plowed in for a go-ahead touchdown, it looked like the Washington Redskins were firmly in control. It didn't take long for the Detroit Lions to respond.

Taking advantage of a short field once again, the Lions put together a nice drive that culminated in a second receiving touchdown for Calvin Johnson. Quarterback Matthew Stafford found Johnson from seven yards out, giving the Lions a 20-19 lead. The Lions failed to convert on a two-point conversion, keeping the Redskins down by just one point.

The Lions' drive began with yet another special teams blunder. The Redskins tried kicking short, but fullback Jerome Felton picked it up and took it back 37 yards. The Lions got a key third-down conversion on a pass to Johnson, and then scored when DeAngelo Hall gave Johnson too much of a cushion on the touchdown. Johnson has abused Hall all afternoon, and that continued on that last drive.

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Redskins Vs. Lions: Keiland Williams Runs Washington Into 19-14 Lead

Since their offensive stars aren't really getting it done, the Redskins have been relying on their role players to come up big. Brandon Banks, Anthony Armstrong, and Keiland Williams are each having productive games.

The Redskins were fortunate to begin their first drive of the fourth quarter inside Lions territory. After Washington forced Detroit to punt once again, Banks returned the ball 35 yards to Detroit's 46-yard line, giving the Redskins excellent field position with which to begin their drive.

On the first play of the drive, Donovan McNabb went deep to his favorite big play threat Anthony Armstrong. The receiver was able to get open down the middle of the field for a 35-yard gain.

With the ball then on the Detroit 11-yard line, the Redskins turned to running back Keiland Williams. Two straight runs by Williams and some quality blocking on the left side of the offensive line allowed the Redskins to punch the ball into the end zone and retake the lead.

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Redskins Vs. Lions: Ryan Torain Listed As Questionable With Hamstring Injury

Mike Shanahan made the decision to activate only two running backs for today's game against the Lions. That's starting to look like a poor decision.

Ryan Torain began the second half on the sideline with a hamstring injury. He is questionable to return.

According to Rick Maese of the Washington Post, it doesn't look good.

Torain started the half on the exercise bike. He's getting stretched now on the trainers table

On the Redskins' most recent possession, Torain was seen standing on the sideline without his helmet in his hands. That is not typically what a running back looks like when he is awaiting the nod to enter the game.

The only other running back active today for the Redskins is rookie Keiland Williams. We shouldn't be surprised to see the Reskins adapt by allowing Donovan McNabb to throw the ball more often.

We've seen young unknown running backs flourish in offenses run by Mike Shanahan in the past. Might Williams be the next to do so?

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Redskins Vs. Lions: Brandon Pettigrew's Touchdown Gives Detroit A 14-13 Lead

The Redskins were so concerned about another special teams big play that they shanked a punt out of bounds to avoid kicking to Stefan Logan. In the end, it cost them.

The Lions took advantage of a short field, driving 52 yards for a touchdown to take a 14-13 lead. Tight end Brandon Pettigrew completed the drive with a two-yard touchdown catch, his second of the season. The drive was prolonged by an encroachment penalty on Phillip Daniels on a 25-yard field goal attempt, which gave the Lions a first down. Two plays later, Pettigrew got into the end zone.

The end result was unfortunate because the Redskins did such a good job forcing the 25-yard field goal attempt. On third and 1, Albert Haynesworth and Laron Landry combined to stop Jahvid Best short of a first down. A field goal would have kept the Redskins in the lead. Instead, Daniels, a veteran who has been around for a long time, committed an uncharacteristic penalty. The offsides call could potentially change the entire course of the game.

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Redskins Vs. Lions: Graham Gano Adds Another Score Before Halftime

When the Lions punted with just 16 second left in the first half, you've got to believe that most folks thought the half was over. Luckily for Redskins fans, Brandon Banks isn't most folks.

Banks returned a punt by the Lions 24-yards to give Washington the ball just one yard shy of midfield. In a game that's been dominated by both teams' defenses, special teams continues to be an incredibly important factor. Banks has provided a crucial element for the Redskins. And as Hunter Smith has started to punt away from Stefan Logan to limit Detroit's punt returning potential, the Lions made the mistake of punting to Banks to give the Redskins one final chance to score before the half.

And score they did. Donovan McNabb connected with Santana Moss for an 8-yard pass on first down. The team then took a timeout, and found Ryan Torain wide open for a screen pass on the right sideline.

Torain stepped out of bounds at Detroit's 28-yard line with 11 seconds left on the clock.

Kicker Graham Gano has been somewhat inconsistent this season, but he's been on today. Gano kicked the 48-yard attempt straight through the uprights to give Washington a surprising 13-7 lead heading into the locker room for halftime.

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Redskins Vs. Lions: Graham Gano Gives Redskins 10-7 Heading Towards Halftime

The Lions have been doing a great job of controlling the line of scrimmage. Donovan McNabb has now been sacked four times, including twice by the 2010 second overall draft pick Ndamukong Suh.

But for one play, McNabb had time to throw the ball. And the Redskins capitalized with their biggest offensive play of the game. McNabb completed a 50-yard pass down the middle of the field to wide receiver Anthony Armstrong. This was just the first reception by a Redskins wide receiver today. The second was earned by Santana Moss on the very next play on the same drive.

Washington’s drive expectedly slowed down immediately after the big completion. Ryan Torain was stopped for a loss on the next play. Then, after a McNabb run and an incompletion, the Redskins elected to kick.

Graham Gano nailed the 38-yard field goal to give the Redskins a slim 10-7 lead just before halftime.

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Redskins Vs. Lions: Chris Horton And Phillip Daniels Injured

The Redskins dodged a bullet earlier as a potentially dangerous injury to Pro Bowler Brian Orakpo didn't amount to much. Orakpo returned to the field on the next Lions possession.

The injuries continue to mount for Washington though. On back to back plays, the Redskins had to watch their training staff come onto the field to address injuries to defenders.

First Chris Horton had to be removed after he made a tackle on Stefan Logan on a kick return. The training staff has been looking at his left leg as he remains on the sidelines.

On the very next play, consistent veteran defensive ends Phillip Daniels stayed down on the field. Fortunately, Daniels was able to walk off the field on his own power, and appears to not be seriously injured. This does however continue to be a scary situation for the Redskins.

It almost makes you wonder who's next.

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Redskins Vs. Lions: Big Kickoff Return Leads To Ryan Torain Touchdown

In a game where offense has been hard to come by, special teams once again set up a touchdown. This time, it was Redskins dynamo Brandon Banks who did the deed, as he's done many times this season.

Banks ran the Lions' kickoff back 47 yards, and running back Ryan Torain got into the end zone from six yards out three plays later to tie the game at 7. The Redskins also got a long 36-yard run from Donovan McNabb on the first play of the drive, and McNabb delivered a well-executed screen pass to Torain on the touchdown. 

The Redskins' offense is still struggling, considering it took a 36-yard quarterback run and a gimmick screen pass to get into the end zone, but they'll take it considering how poorly they have played this afternoon. As bad as it's been, the score is still 7-7. There is plenty of time for the Redskins to pick things up and take control of this game.

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Redskins Vs. Lions: Calvin Johnson Scores After Long Punt Return By Stefan Logan

In a game like this when both defenses are dominating both offenses, it's quickly becoming apparent that special teams will make the difference.

The Redskins and Lions have each punted four times. But unlike last week, when Hunter Smith intentionally punted the ball towards the sideline every opportunity to keep Devin Hester from breaking a big return, the Smith hasn't been afraid to punt towards Lion return man Stefan Logan.

Perhaps that was a mistake.

Logan and the Lions earned the first big play of the day as the young returner ran the ball back 71-yards, giving Detroit the ball on Washington's 19-yard line.

After a 6-yard run by Jahvid Best and an incomplete pass, Matthew Stafford put the ball into the hands of the team's best player Calvin Johnson. The big receiver caught the ball around the 5-yard line and was met immediately by Redskins corner back DeAngelo Hall, but Johnson used his strength to his long reach to extend the ball across the goalline for the first score of the game.

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Redskins Vs. Lions: Brian Orakpo Injures Left Ankle, But Returns To Game

Brian Orakpo shouldn't have even been on the field. If not for a Phillip Buchanon defensive holding penalty on third down and 11, the Redskins would have forced the Lions to punt. However, the Lions kept the ball due to the penalty, and shortly thereafter, Orakpo was down on the field.

It appeared to be a fairly quick and inconsequential play, but it may have cost the Redskins their own Pro Bowl player from 2009. Brian Orakpo stayed down after the play with an injured left ankle.

The good news is that he was able to limp off the field without needing a cart, and returned to the field on the following Lions possession. Jim Haslett and the Redskins defense has once again been moving Orakpo around. He has sometimes lined up on the left side, and sometimes on the right, depending on Detroit's positioning.

On the same play that resulted in Orakpo's injury, it was Albert Haynesworth who made a big stop at the line. Haynesworth has been playing only passing downs for the Redskins so far today.

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Redskins Vs. Lions: DeAngelo Hall Intercepts Matthew Stafford In The End Zone

After seeing DeAngelo Hall pick off four passes against the Chicago Bears last weekend, you'd think teams would be worried about throwing the ball his way. Instead, the Detroit Lions decided to challenge him - and failed.

Hall got yet another interception just now, picking off Matthew Stafford's intended pass for Calvin Johnson in the end zone. Stafford decided to throw a deep ball to Johnson, but underthrew it, allowing Hall to leap up and snag the ball. It's Hall's sixth interception of the season, which ties a career high.

Hall's interception was tremendously important because the Redskins' offense has been awful thus far. Donovan McNabb has already slipped on the field twice, and the leaky offensive line has allowed the Lions to get pressure on him. The Lions were even able to get a sack with only three men rushing the quarterback. The Redskins have just one first down and have already punted three times early in the first quarter.

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Redskins Vs. Lions: 12 Players Listed As Questionable For Washington, But All Are Expected To Play

We know that Mike Shanahan is fully capable of playing mind games with his injury report. We also know that the Redskins are banged-up heading into their last game against the Detroit Lions before the bye week.

Those two factors have coalesced into an injury report that is heavy on big names. A whopping 12 Redskins players are listed as questionable for Sunday's game, including a number of big names on the team. Shanahan said today that all of them are expected to play, though he did say the team would probably rotate Jammal Brown and Stephon Heyer at right tackle to rest them a bit with their injuries.

The Lions' injury report, meanwhile, is completely empty. That's what happens when you're coming off a bye week and your opponent is looking ahead to a bye week. Here is the full report, via Redskins PR.

Questionable:

 

  • Jammal Brown (hip)
  • Chris Cooley (foot)
  • DeAngelo Hall (back)
  • Stephon Heyer (ankle)
  • LaRon Landry (achilles)
  • Kory Lichtensteiger (back)
  • Donovan McNabb (hamstring)
  • Kareem Moore (knee)
  • Brian Orakpo (ankle)
  • Casey Rabach (foot)
  • Mike Sellers (foot)
  • Chad Simpson (hamstring)
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Redskins Vs. Lions: Can Washington Exorcise Its Detroit Demons

Detroit has not been a kind place for the Washington Redskins over the years. Two years ago, the Redskins escaped with a poorly-played victory to go to 6-2, but Clinton Portis and Jim Zorn got into a shouting match that derailed the season. Last year, the Redskins gave Detroit its first win in 19 games in an awful effort that none of the players on that team will forget.

This season, the Redskins come into Detroit at 4-3 and with a real chance of leapfrogging teams in the NFC playoff picture. However, the Lions are rested, and though they're 1-5, they've played much better than that. Running back Jahvid Best has been excellent, wide receiver Calvin Johnson has been his superb self and defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh is already a dominant force. Quarterback Matt Stafford will return this week after suffering a shoulder injury in Week 1, and the Lions should be ready to go after their bye week.

We'll have all your updates here in this StorySteam leading up to the Halloween afternoon kickoff. 

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