Call it the "curse of Cruise" or just simply the worst game ever for the Washington Redskins.
The Skins had the last of many chances to win from their 22 with 1:05 left but couldn't get inside the 20 before time expired and handed the Detroit Lions the 19-14 win Sunday.
Detroit's victory put an end to their 19-game losing streak. The team had not won a game since Dec. 23, 2007, and their skid matched the second longest in NFL history. They no longer will have to hear about closing in on Tampa Bay's record 26-game losing streak set during the 1976-77 seasons.
A few Skins fans blamed the presence of actor Tom Cruise, who was at Ford Field Sunday as a guest of coach Dan Snyder.
The loss certainly isn't helping the team mend any broken ties with fans. Following last week's pathetic 9-7 "win" over St. Louis, many Redskins fans voiced frustration with predictions the team would end the Lions losing streak, a result that had at least one Lions player, guard Stephen Peterman, in tears. Certainly more were shed in rec rooms throughout the Washington region.
"We've still got a long way to go, but we've got a quarterback, and that's a big piece of the puzzle," said Lions vice chairman Bill Ford, whose father owns the team.
Matthew Stafford threw a 21-yard touchdown pass to Bryant Johnson in the first quarter and Detroit added a fourth-quarter score after a pass interference penalty. Then the Lions had to hold off the Redskins' final drive.
When the game ended, the Lions earned a chance to celebrate nine months after becoming the first NFL team to finish 0-16 in the regular season.
"We went a whole season without feeling like this, so you have to take it in and enjoy," center Dominic Raiola said. "We know it is the first of many, but it is still the first."
Stafford didn't watch the final snap, holding his head down on the bench.
"I'm 100 times more nervous when I'm watching from the bench than when I'm playing, so I figured I'd just let the crowd noise tell me what happened," Stafford recalled. "When it got really quiet, I couldn't take it, so I looked up, and saw them running, and then the tackle, and then I saw the clock was at zero."
Raiola couldn't watch either, but when it was over he blew kisses to the crowd of 40,896 that was the smallest at Ford Field and the fewest to watch a Lions home game in 20 years.
Washington (1-2) pulled within five points on Jason Campbell's second touchdown pass with 2:36 left in the game, but couldn't prevent the Lions from picking up a first down that ran time off the clock and cost it three timeouts.
Washington wasted opportunities throughout to avoid the embarrassment of losing to the lowly Lions and embattled coach Jim Zorn will likely be pressed for answers as he was a week ago after the win over St. Louis.
"It don't matter if Joe Gibbs was here or any All-Star coach, they're still going to point fingers," said defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth, who hurt his right hip in the first half and returned to play in the third quarter.
Are the Redskins still behind Zorn, who is in his second season as their head coach?
"I hope so," Haynesworth said. "You only have one head coach. I can't speak for everybody else, but I am."
The Lions built a 13-0 lead at halftime with Stafford's TD pass to Johnson, Jason Hanson's two field goals -- including one to end the first half -- and Washington's zero yards rushing.
A week after struggling inside the 10 and barely beating the Rams, Washington was held scoreless on its opening drive despite a first-and-goal from the 9. Clinton Portis was denied on fourth down from the 1 by rookie linebacker DeAndre Levy, who started in Ernie Sims' place.
"I didn't think we'd be denied getting in the end zone and we were," Zorn said. "But there was no way a team could drive 99 yards on us was my thought."
The Lions drove 99 yards on 12 plays over nearly 6 minutes, capping the impressive drive with Johnson's fantastic catch on a high throw in the end zone from Stafford.
The Lions went ahead 10-0 -- as they did last week before losing to Minnesota -- on Hanson's 39-yard field goal midway through the second quarter. Hanson's 26-yard kick at the end of the first half gave the Lions a 13-0 lead.
Washington suddenly showed signs of life on offense in the second half, going 73 yards to pull within six points on Campbell's 57-yard pass to Santana Moss. At least Moss looked good, pulling in 10 passes for 178 yards and that touchdown.
Zorn chose to punt on a fourth-and-3 from the Detroit 44 early in the fourth quarter and the Lions scored a TD on the ensuing possession to go ahead 19-7 with 5:26 left in the game.
The key moment of the pivotal drive came when Chris Horton was called for pass interference against Johnson, giving Detroit a 47-yard gain and the ball at the 1 to set up Maurice Morris' TD run.
Washington responded with a TD drive, but it allowed Stafford to connect with tight end Will Heller to convert a third down on the ensuing possession and hurt its chances of a comeback.