Jason Hanson kicked five field goals, including a 54-yarder that might have been good at 60 yards. The defense sealed the win with four interceptions of Brad Johnson, three in the final quarter and one with 48 seconds left by Terry Fair.
But Sanders and Smith were another reason for the defeat.
Much of the yardage that Detroit gained came on throws toward Sanders, staying away from second-year-man Champ Bailey on the other side. Bailey had two interceptions, one of them a one-hand grab at the Washington 6 late in the half on a ball that went through Herman Moore's hands.
"They came at me every which way they could," Sanders said. "This is the worst I've ever played in my 12-year career. I don't remember being this bad, giving up this many catches. How many yards did they have passing? Two hundred yards? That's all? About 180 of it was mine."
"I'm still befuddled over the call," Smith said. "He (referee Jeff Triplette) told me I can't leave my feet. I've never heard of that call before."
Sanders even made a mistake on a punt with two minutes left, failing to catch a ball that rolled another 10 yards and forced the Redskins to start their final drive from their own 11.
"We didn't design a game plan that said 'Let's throw against Deion.' That would be stupid," Detroit coach Bobby Ross said. "But we felt we had to be very aggressive, so we had to go against him. The other guy's no treat. That Bailey kid is unbelievable."
"It was in our plan that if my reads took me in that direction, that's where I was going," Batch said. "You can't totally avoid him not as good as the rest of that secondary is."
The Detroit defense, meanwhile, limiTed Washington's offense to one touchdown. Johnson was 23-of-35 for 245 yards with those four interceptions, one on a ball thrown so high and off target that Lions safety Kurt Schulz probably could have called a fair catch on the play.
Batch, playing his first game after missing all of the preseason with a broken knee bone, was 16-of-31 for 194 yards and was intercepted twice.
"Sometimes, the first time out after having not played you actually play better," said Washington coach Norv Turner, whose expertise is tutoring quarterbacks. "There's not a lot of pressure on you. You're certainly fresh. You're relaxed."
The win was the second straight in the regular season by the Lions (2-0) over the Redskins (1-1) after 16 losses dating back to 1965. Washington beat Detroit 27-13 in the playoffs last January.
The closest Detroit got to the end zone was a play that looked for awhile like it might tilt the game in Washington's favor.
On the first play of the second quarter, with the Lions leading 3-0, Johnson dropped back to pass and threw in the direction of Larry Centers.
The ball was deflected and 319-pound defensive tackle Kelvin Pritchett grabbed it, juggled it, then rumbled down the left sideline. He dodged several tacklers and appeared to be all but in the end zone when 326-pound guard Tre Johnson dove at his ankles and pulled him down just inside the 1.
After two runs by James Stewart, the Lions were 2 yards away. Then Batch's third-down pass went awry, and Detroit had to settle for Hanson's 20-yard field goal.
On the next series, Washington went 75 yards o 13 plays, eating up 8 minutes and 33 seconds, and went ahead on Johnson's 5-yard third-down pass to Stephen Alexander.
Hanson put the Lions ahead 9-7 on the first drive of the third quarter on his 54-yarder. Brett Conway countered with a 26-yarder late in the period after Bryant Westbrook stopped Adrian Murrell inches short of a first down at the 9.
Desmond Howard's 44-yard kickoff return set up the next score, Hanson's 37-yard kick that made it 12-10 3:24 into the fourth quarter.
Then came the final drive and the big mistakes by Smith and Sanders.
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