Lions (8-8) at Redskins (10-6)

Batch out, Frerotte in for Lions against Redskins

Some limping, some rolling

Lions limp into postseason

'Skins coast in finale

Frerotte makes heady return

Associated Press

PONTIAC, Mich. -- Gus Frerotte knew the question was coming. After all, his head hitting the wall is the lasting memory of his days as the quarterback of the Washington Redskins.

Gus Frerotte
Gus Frerotte was 2-4 as Detroit's starting quarterback this season.
"I'm sure there'll be a big X right there where I'm supposed to be hitting the wall," Frerotte said Tuesday. "Oh yeah, they'll be looking for me to do that again. And I hope I get to do it about 10 times."

The play will be on blooper reels for years to come. Having scored in the second quarter of a 1997 game against the New York Giants, Frerotte chose to celebrate by head-butting a concrete wall.

The impact left Frerotte visibly stunned, and he left the game woozy after holding the extra-point attempt and stumbling through the Redskins' final series of the half. He ended up in the hospital after suffering spasms at halftime.

"People made a big deal out of that," Frerotte said. "I just laugh about it. It was an emotional thing. I was excited, and it's not something I made an effort to do, it just happened."

It also just happened that the headbutt ended Frerotte's career with the Redskins. He broke his hip in the following game, and lasted just two starts in 1998. Now with the Detroit Lions, Frerotte will start the first playoff game of his career Saturday in place of the injured Charlie Batch.

"I don't know too many quarterbacks who have been in situations where they have just been smooth and had everything just handed to them," Frerotte said. "Everybody has got to fight, everybody has got to have an uphill battle."

Signed in March as a backup, Frerotte started six games this year, coming in after Batch broke his right thumb against St. Louis in November. He got his first shot at the Redskins in his fourth start, and threw for 280 yards and a touchdown as the Lions broke a 16-game losing streak to Washington with a 33-17 victory five weeks ago.

He made sure to chat with some of his old teammates during the Lions win but said he isn't interested in how the team has functioned since new owner Daniel Snyder took over. That win, he said, helped him get past his history with Washington.

"I would have loved to stay," Frerotte said. "There is accountability in this league. You have to be accountable when you sit on the bench all year and don't play, but are making that kind of money."

The victory against Washington was the highlight of Frerotte's season. The Lions were 2-4 with Frerotte under center, and Batch returned to start the final two games of the season. Only a reinjury to Batch's thumb, which came after he threw for 161 yards and one touchdown against the Vikings in the team's final regular-season game, has given Frerotte his shot at playing in the postseason.

He'll also get a second chance to break another Lions-losing streak: Detroit has never won in Washington. Their last road win against the Redskins came 17 games ago in 1935, when the team was based in Boston.

"I have confidence in Gus all together," wide receiver Herman Moore said. "He knows exactly what it takes to get it done. I don't think we'll miss a stride."

Batch will see a hand specialist in Detroit on Wednesday, and then two more before Saturday's game. Coach Bobby Ross said he'd like to have Batch available for the game, although he'd do nothing more than hand off the ball. If surgery is necessary, it could come as soon as next week.

Frerotte knows Batch is the future of the franchise -- Ross said as much Tuesday after practice -- and sees this as not only a chance to win a playoff game, but as an audition for whatever comes next.

"It's almost like writing a book," Frerotte said. "It's just something you can look back on and say, 'That was my opportunity.' I just have to capitalize on it."