Donovan McNabb Benched for Rex Grossman Late in Loss to Lions
For the second year in a row, the Detroit Lions beat the Washington Redskins. If you didn’t watch the game but saw the 37-25 final, it was much closer than that score suggests. The Skins had taken the lead 25-20 midway through the 4th quarter on a kickoff return for a touchdown by rookie Brandon Banks. They missed the two-point conversion but the defense forced a Detroit punt. Washington had the ball up 25-20 with 5:21 left and a chance to run off some time or add to their lead. Instead, Donovan McNabb threw an interception on 2nd and 10 giving Detroit the ball at the 37.
The Lions capitalized on the interception with Matt Stafford hitting Calvin Johnson for the pair’s third touchdown of the game giving them a 28-25 lead (they converted the two-pointer). With 3:18 left, Washington had the ball and couldn’t manage a first down. McNabb was sacked on 4th and 10 at his 20 giving the Lions great field position to go up 31-25.
The Redskins had 1:45 to try and drive for the game-tying score. Much to the surprise of everyone not named Mike Shanahan, the Redskins sent backup quarterback Rex Grossman out for the final drive. Grossman, who hadn’t thrown a pass all season, succumbed to the same pressure that got after McNabb. He was sacked on his first play, lost the ball, and Ndamukong Suh picked it up and returned it for a touchdown sealing the win.
Washington still had a chance to win with just under two minutes left, so why didn’t they stick with their starting quarterback? Why in the world did they pull Donovan for Sexy Rexy? After the game, coach Mike Shanahan explained that Rex Grossman is more comfortable with the two-minute offense (where the QB calls his own plays). He also said he thought Grossman gave them the best chance to win.
With that statement, Shanahan indicates how little he thought of McNabb at the time. Any moment you think Rex Grossman gives you the best chance to win a game not taking place in a public park, you’re in serious trouble. McNabb may have thrown an uncharacteristic interception late and he may have struggled to move the ball, but there’s no way I would put the ball in the hands of Rex Grossman with the game on the line, particularly when he hadn’t thrown any passes all season.
Washington will have a bye week before facing Philly at home. If there’s one thing history has shown us, it’s that McNabb responds very well to adversity. He’ll remain the team’s starting quarterback and likely have a big game against his former team in two weeks on Monday night.
Photo Credit: AP Photo/Paul Sancya