PONTIAC, Mich. - Defensive end Bruce Smith is in his 16th NFL season, but never, says the league's No. 2 all-time sack leader, had he been hit with a penalty like the one in yesterday's 15-10 loss to the Detroit Lions.
With the Washington Redskins' punt-return team already running out on the field after an apparent stop with about 10 minutes left in the game, the referee waved his arms to let the teams know not to make any changes.
Smith had been hit with a personal foul for roughing the passer. He hit Lions quarterback Charlie Batch after taking one step in what appeared to be a questionable call, though Smith's hand did strike Batch's head.
"I've never, out of all the days I've had playing football, been called for that play," Smith said. "I guess he [the official] saw something I didn't see. I'm going to go back and check it out on film and see exactly what I did wrong. I was only a half a step away. I saw my opportunity to reach out and go forward toward the quarterback, and that is exactly what I did."
The penalty came after Batch's pass fell incomplete to Johnnie Morton on a third-and-17. Detroit was at its 47, and the penalty moved the ball to the Redskins' 38. It set up a 35-yard Jason Hanson field goal that gave the Lions their final, five-point lead.
Had the penalty not been called, the Redskins would have needed only a field goal to take the lead.
"It's real hard to play this game," Smith said, "with all the things that we want these great players to do and then not give them leeway to make the play.
"It wasn't the deciding factor. There were a lot of things that affected that football game, like turnovers."
Redskins coach Norv Turner said: "I saw it on the big screen on the replay. They are allowed some room in terms of step."
Smith finished with four tackles and no sacks.
Special teams play hurt the Redskins again.
The kickoff coverage team gave up a 100-yard return to Michael Bates last week against the Carolina Panthers. Lions return man Desmond Howard brought a kickoff back 44 yards to the Lions' 49.
The return helped set up Hanson's 37-yard field goal that put the Lions up 12-10 with 11:36 left.
Outside of that return, though, the overall effort was better than the previous week.
"We gave up one play," Turner said. "And we had a couple of guys out on that play that were playing every snap on the defense. We gave up one play, but I thought we did a lot of good things on special teams."
Lions defensive end Tracy Scroggins had two sacks in Detroit's first game, but was held to one tackle yesterday.
Chris Samuels was largely responsible for that. The first-round draft pick kept his sackless streak alive, dating back to his senior year at Alabama.
Samuels was hit with his first penalty, though, a false start in the second quarter. The loud Lions crowd had a lot to do with that."[The crowd] was a factor on that one play," Samuels said. "It was louder than I expected."
Wide receiver Michael Westbrook left the game in the third quarter with a strained left knee. He returned, but only for a few plays and did not play in the fourth quarter. He will be evaluated today.... Todd Husak, Derrick Ham, Derrius Thompson and Zeron Flemister were the game-day inactives.