Seventy years later, Detroit still trying for first win at Washington Print
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Thursday, 04 October 2007 11:31
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 LANDOVER, Md. (AP) -The Detroit Lions don't visit the Washington Redskins very often. So every time it happens a whole new set of players get that dumbfounded look when presented with one of the more off-kilter streaks in sports.
Despite seven decades of trying, the Lions have never, ever, ever won at Washington.
``See, I didn't know that,'' Detroit defensive end Dewayne White said. ``At all. Until just now.''
And now that you know?
``It still doesn't matter to me,'' White said.
g him that once upon a time he injured himself by ramming his head into the stadium wall to celebrate a touchdown.
``And I got fined - extremely,'' said Washington fullback Mike Sellers, remembering a second-half fight that led to $154,000 in fines for 23 players in the 27-13 Redskins win. ``And I had nothing to do with it.''
For the record, the string of futility is 0-20, including three playoff games. It includes five games at Griffith Stadium, 13 at RFK Stadium and two at FedEx Field.
That's not to say the Lions franchise has been completely fruitless against the Redskins on the road. In fact, the team won twice - in Boston. The Portsmouth Spartans, two years before moving to Detroit, beat the Boston Redskins 10-0 in a road game in 1932. They returned as the Detroit Lions and won 17-7 in 1935, two years before the Redskins moved to Washington.
``What's more irritating is to know that when you go into a place like D.C., they think they can beat you simply because they always have,'' said kicker Jason Hanson, whose 16 years with the Lions makes him the unofficial expert on the streak. ``No matter how good you're doing, secretly they're whispering to each other, 'Whatever, we're going to pound these guys.' There is something to that.''
If the Redskins (2-1) are whispering, they're doing it very quietly. There's been not a smidgen of pride expressed over the streak leading up to Sunday's game, in part because the players have comes to realize these are not your father's Lions. Detroit (3-1) has already equaled last year's victory total and is coming off a win in which the Lions set an NFL record with 34 fourth-quarter points against Chicago.
``They just broke the record scoring points on the Bears against a very good defense,'' cornerback Fred Smoot said. ``We're not going in saying we dominated them because we beat them 20 times.''
Redskins safety Vernon Fox, who spent two seasons in Detroit, warned this week that his old team appears to be shedding its losing culture.
``I think they've learned how to win,'' Fox said. ``They've learned how to get things going and do that in confidence. The old mentality of you get in close games and you don't think you can win, they've kind of wavered away from that.''
That's the point Detroit quarterback Jon Kitna made this week when discussing the streak. Forget the Redskins, the Lions in recent years haven't won many games, period. Already this season Detroit has ended a 10-game losing streak to the Minnesota Vikings and a four-game skid against the Chicago Bears.
``We hadn't beaten Minnesota and we hadn't beaten Chicago, and we did that,'' Kitna said. ``We're going to slay a lot of media dragons this year. ... The fact of the matter is that for the last 10 years or so this has been an organization that has struggled and they haven't beaten a lot of people. If we took that into account, every week there would be a new rallying cry. What happens when that runs out?''
Not surprisingly, no-nonsense Detroit coach Rod Marinelli said he wasn't even going to mention the streak to his players. He mocked the notion of using it as a rallying cry.
``That means a lot,'' he said sarcastically. ``All of a sudden you go out in the warmup and you're breathing hard, you think anybody's going to remember that?''
Besides, as coach Joe Gibbs pointed out, old statistical patterns are often useless when determining who wins a game.
``I have people say to me all the time: 'Hey, every time your back rushed for 100 yards, you do this' - then you go out and just get whipped rushing for 100 yards,'' Gibbs said. ``All that stuff is out the window.''
 

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