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Nick Fairley had a safety against the New York Giants, but the Detroit Lions lost their fifth game in …

COMMENTARY | No Reggie Bush? No problem.

The Detroit Lions held on for the 27-20 win against the Washington Redskins on Sunday, September 22. It was the first time in franchise history the Lions won in Washington, going 0-21 before Sunday.

Joique Bell got the start as Reggie Bush sat out with a knee injury he sustained in the Week 2 loss to the Arizona Cardinals. He wasn't as electrifying as Bush, but he got tough yards and gave the Lions a formidable running attack.

Here are five observations from the Lions' win:

Nick Fairley takes another stupid penalty

The Lions have started policing themselves in order to attempt to cut down on the personal fouls they have committed. It doesn't seem to be working as Nick Fairley had a late hit after Ezekiel Ansah recovered a Robert Griffin III fumble.

The penalty negated the fumble but, luckily, it didn't hurt the Lions as the first half ended after the next play.

I know I sound like a broken record, but the stupid penalties have to stop. In all, the Lions had eight penalties for 71 yards against Washington. They continue come out unscathed by these penalties, but once they start playing some better teams, it won't be so easy to recover from their own mistakes.

Joique Bell impressive in first start

The Redskins were giving up an average of 201 yards per game on the ground coming into Sunday's tilt, so the odds were in Bell's favor to have a good game, and he didn't disappoint.

Bell racked up 63 yards rushing and one touchdown on 20 carries and 69 yards receiving on four catches. A lot of his runs involved breaking multiple tackles and gaining tough yards.

That's the kind of running you can expect from Bell from here on out. Obviously, it's a lot more effective when Bush also is playing as Bush is more of a flashy, make you miss kind of running back. But it's still good to see Bell have a solid solo performance.

The process works in the Lions' favor

The Calvin Johnson rule came up again today, but this time it helped the Lions. Griffin threw a pass to Aldrick Robinson for what appeared to be a 57-yard touchdown, but Robinson did not maintain possession of the ball once he hit the ground and it was called incomplete.

This was a huge break for the Lions as they were leading 20-17 with about 9 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter that would have put the Redskins up 24-20.

The Redskins ended up punting on that possession and the Lions scored on the ensuing possession as Matthew Stafford hit Calvin Johnson on an 11-yard touchdown pass to put the Lions up 27-17.

After Victor Cruz's catch was incorrectly called a touchdown in Week 1, it was good to see the referees got this call right and ruled it an incomplete pass.

Robert Griffin III ineffective on the ground

Coming into the game, Griffin said he wanted to run the ball more against the Lions. I'm sure only running the ball six times for 37 yards was not what he had in mind.

The Lions did a great job of containing him and making sure he didn't beat them with his legs. Griffin did throw for more than 300 yards, but it is on the ground where he can really hurt a defense.

Griffin also made a huge mental mistake on his longest run of the day, a 21-yard scamper early in the fourth quarter. Instead of sliding feet first, Griffin dove head first untouched and the ground caused him to fumble. Glover Quin recovered the ball and the Lions took over on offense.

The ground can cause a fumble if a player dives head first untouched. Griffin should have slid feet first and he would have been down as soon as he hit the ground. It was a big break for the Lions, and they turned it into 3 points with a David Akers field goal to put Detroit up 20-17.

Lions lose Jason Jones for season

The Lions suffered a huge loss despite getting the win as defensive end Jason Jones will be out for the rest of the season after rupturing his patellar tendon. He was carted off the field in the second quarter after sustaining the injury.

Jones didn't show up on the stat sheet much accounting for one tackle and one pass defended in three games, but he's a key part of that defensive front the Lions will sorely miss.

It appears rookie Devin Taylor will get his shot to replace Jones on the end. Hopefully, the rookie makes the most of the opportunity and continues where Jones left off.

The Lions were perfect by no means against Washington, but they didn't squander a fourth-quarter lead and, if Chicago loses later tonight, could be tied for first in the NFC North.

To make things even more interesting, the Lions host the Bears next week.

Tom Mitsos is a Michigan native who covers the Detroit Lions for the Yahoo! Contributor Network. He also is a high school sports reporter at MLive Media Group. You can follow Tom on Twitter.

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