LANDOVER, Md. (CBSDC/AP) — No one has to explain the “Calvin Johnson rule” to Calvin Johnson.
That 57-yard touchdown pass that would have put the Washington Redskins ahead of the Detroit Lions in the fourth quarter on Sunday? Nope. Doesn’t count. Check the replay. Aldrick Robinson didn’t maintain complete control of the ball after falling to the ground in the end zone.
“Oh, yeah — that was blatant,” Johnson said. “We all saw that. Everyone knew that one was coming back.”
Robinson thought “for sure” it was a touchdown and was emphatically celebrating the would-be go ahead until he saw the replay on the scoreboard.
It was three years ago that Johnson infamously lost a touchdown catch in a similar manner against the Chicago Bears, so it was only fitting that the rule finally turned a game in favor of the Lions, swinging the momentum in Sunday’s 27-20 win.
“I’m not known for my calm or anything like that,” Detroit coach Jim Schwartz said. “But if that hadn’t got overruled, I would have had a difficult time. I might have had a conniption or whatever that is.”
The touchdown-turned-incompletion left the Lions with a three-point lead, which became 10 on a scoring pass to — who else? — Johnson.
Here are five reasons the Lions (2-1) have finally won a game at Washington, and why the Redskins are 0-3 for the first time since 2001:
1. RG3’s BIG BOBBLE: Maybe they should call it the “RG3 rule.” With the game tied early in the fourth quarter, Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III ended a 21-yard scramble with an awkward head-first dive and lost the ball as he hit the turf. If he had slid, the play would have been over. Because he didn’t, it was a fumble recovered by the Lions. Griffin called it a bad rule, but Redskins coach Mike Shanahan has a better solution: “Probably next time, he’ll do a normal slide instead of head-first.”
2. BIG PLAYS ALL AROUND: The Lions played without Reggie Bush (knee), but he was hardly missed against a Redskins defense allowing an astounding 488 yards per game. Matthew Stafford threw for 385 yards to eight receivers, including Nate Burleson (116 yards) and Johnson (115). Joique Bell, starting in place of Bush, had 63 yards rushing and 69 receiving. He broke three tackles on a 37-yard reception and four more on a 12-yard up-the-middle touchdown run on the Lions’ first scoring drive.
3. REELING REDSKINS: The only positive for the Redskins is that the entire NFC East has only one win outside the division three weeks into the season. Otherwise, the same problems pop up every week: The defense can’t cover and can’t tackle, and there are too many inopportune penalties. The offense had a better week, and Griffin had a play or two where he looked like the old RG3, but he also had 50 pass attempts. He’s the first player in Redskins history with three consecutive 300-yard passing games, and that’s only because he’s spending most of his time playing catch-up.
4. JONES DONE FOR THE YEAR: The Lions held on after defensive tackle Jason Jones was carted off in the second quarter, and they’ll have to keep making do because he’s out for the season with a ruptured left patella tendon. Jones signed with the Lions as a free agent in March, and his absence puts more focus on No. 5 overall draft pick Ezekiel Ansah and others. “Willie Young is playing outstanding ball,” Schwartz said. “Ziggy. And Devin Taylor had a heck of a football game, and it will be his time to step up.”
5. THE STREAK IS OVER: No more will the Lions have to deal with questions about never winning at Washington, a streak that began during the Great Depression. The RG3 fumble and the Robinson replay reversal are the types of breaks they couldn’t get during their 21-game road losing streak to the Redskins. “I wasn’t a part of the past, but I am part of the future,” Detroit cornerback Rashean Mathis said, “so it feels good to give the fans something to feel good about, and we can demolish a record, our streak, that was going on for years and years and years.” Mathis will get a chance to say those very same words in two weeks, when the Lions attempt to snap their NFL-record, 22-game road losing streak against the Green Bay Packers.
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