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Sunday, September 22, 2013
Detroit defensive line once again dominant

By Michael Rothstein

LANDOVER, Md. -- They didn’t know what to expect all week, weren’t sure exactly what Robert Griffin III they would have to try to stop.

The Detroit Lions knew about the Griffin from last season. They knew about the Griffin from the first two weeks of this season. And they figured they would likely see the Griffin of old instead of the Griffin who merely looked old.

Willie Young
Willie Young didn't sack Robert Griffin III, but he hit him four times and forced an interception.
This is why, after Detroit’s 27-20 win over Washington, the Lions' defensive linemen understood they had handled themselves fairly well, limiting Griffin to 37 yards rushing and pressuring him often.

“We fast up front, man,” Detroit defensive end Willie Young said. “We’re professional athletes. We’ve got to be disciplined enough, which no one probably gives us credit for, but we have to be disciplined enough every snap to contain quarterbacks like that.”

Young had perhaps the most productive day of all the defensive linemen against Griffin. He didn’t sack him, but he pressured him often, hitting him four times, including one that forced an interception.

In all, Detroit’s ever-dominant defensive line hit Griffin eight times Sunday, and rookie Ziggy Ansah sacked him twice.

Much of defending Griffin is about containment. Take away one of his options -- either the run or the pass -- and force him to pick the other. The Lions ended up letting him pass -- Griffin threw 50 times -- but for the most part they didn't get beat deep, either.

The biggest pass play of the game for Washington, a 57-yard touchdown pass to Aldrick Robinson, was wiped out by the Calvin Johnson complete-the-process rule. Otherwise, Detroit did well against Washington’s run and pass.

“When you’re dealing with a quarterback like that, you just never know,” said Detroit cornerback Rashean Mathis, who started in place of Darius Slay on Sunday. “You have to cover a little longer.

“You have to cover a little longer in coverage and try to hold the guys off for the rush to get there, because he’s going to scramble around and run around. You just have to be good late, late in the down, and we were good late in the down.”

Detroit, for the most part, was good in every part of the down. Most of that started with a once-again dominant defensive line.

“Those guys got after him hard,” Detroit coach Jim Schwartz said. “He still made plays with his legs.

“Luckily we were able to make just a few more than they did.”