Despite how bad the Lions have been in the past, I never could have guessed that they would set a new record for futility not just in franchise history but in NFL history. Although I expected the Lions to take a couple steps back this season, there were no signs that they would even finish as bad as 3-13 like in 2006. There was even some hope that this team could finish above .500 after an undefeated preseason. Some said that even though it was only the preseason, they looked much improved. Others, who turned out to be right, realized that the preseason meant nothing. After week one, we all figured that out.
Even after a disappointing start to the season against what turned out to be very good Falcons team, no one thought 0-16 was really possible. Teams have come close in the past, but in the NFL not winning at least one game is impossible. Right? Well, after today, we now know that that thinking is completely wrong. The Lions fought hard and came close again, but in the end they came up short just like always.
The Packers pulled away in the fourth quarter and handed the Lions their 16th loss of the season. For the first time in the history of the NFL, a team has gone 0-16. Although there were close games and the Packers actually only led by a field goal in the fourth quarter today, this team is officially the worst in NFL history. The stats, the closeness of some games and all of that doesn't matter. All that is relevant is the fact that the Lions are 0-16. The Lions may not have even hit rock bottom yet given how the offseason may shape up, but for now, at least, they have set a new standard for mediocrity.
- The Packers drove into Lions territory thanks in part to a 45-yard kick return to start the game, but an Aaron Rodgers fumble changed the entire outlook of this drive. Rodgers dropped back and was going to throw a screen, but he lost control of the ball and ended up losing 24 yards on the play. After a 14-yard pass and an 8-yard run by Green Bay, the Packers got close enough to go for it on 4th and 12. Donald Driver did make a catch on 4th down, but he gained only 8 yards, meaning the Packers turned the ball over on downs.
- Following a Lions three and out, the Packers got on the scoreboard thanks to a huge run by DeShawn Wynn. On 3rd and 4, Wynn took a handoff on a draw and cut to the right side. He somehow managed to get by all of the Lions defenders and was gone. Wynn ran for 73 yards and a touchdown to give the Packers an early 7-0 lead.
- After the Lions and Packers traded punts, Dan Orlovsky made a costly mistake after Kevin Smith moved the chains on 4th and 1. Smith picked up a couple yards to keep the drive alive, but Orlovsky killed it on the very next play when he threw a terrible pass over Calvin Johnson's head in the direction of Charles Woodson. The pass was picked off by Woodson and returned to the Lions 41-yard line.
- A 16-yard pass to Donald Driver and a 20-yard run by Ryan Grant quickly moved the ball inside the 5. After an incompletion and a 1-yard run by Grant, Rodgers found Jermichael Finley in the corner of the end zone for a touchdown to make this a 14-0 game in favor of the Packers.
- The Lions picked up a first down on 4th and 5 when Orlovsky completed a pass to Keary Colbert for a gain of 11 to move the chains. This came after Calvin Johnson caught a 7-yard pass on 3rd and 5 a few plays earlier. Following the fourth down conversion, Kevin Smith moved the ball inside the Packers 10 before Orlovsky connected with Johnson yet again. Orlovsky lobbed a pass into the end zone, allowing Johnson to run under it and make the catch. Just like that, the Lions cut the lead in half.
- Green Bay and Detroit traded punts on the next four possessions, and the last punt nearly produced a 69-yard field goal for the Packers. Nick Harris punted the ball away with 7 seconds left in the half, and Will Blackmon called for a fair catch at the Packers 41-yard line. There was no time left in the clock, but since Blackmon called for a fair catch, the Packers were able to do a free kick.
A free kick is basically a kickoff from the spot of the fair catch, except the goal is to boot the ball through the uprights. Despite being 69 yards away from the uprights, Mason Crosby's free kick was only a yard or so short of being good. I was surprised it was that close, but Crosby did miss it, making the halftime score 14-7 in favor of Green Bay.
- The Lions drove into Packers territory to start the second half and were faced with 4th and 5 at the 41. I personally thought they should have gone for it since they did so in that situation earlier in the game, but the Lions elected to punt the ball away. That turned out to be a good decision, as Ryan Grant was drilled by Kalvin Pearson on the very next play and fumbled the ball. Pearson flipped Grant over on the hit to cause the fumble, and he recovered it as well to give the Lions the ball at Green Bay's 11-yard line.
- Only two plays later, Orlovsky found Johnson in the middle of the field. Johnson made the catch and broke a tackle to get into the end zone for another touchdown. Jason Hanson made the extra point to tie the game up at 14.
- A 47-yard pass to Greg Jennings on 3rd and 10 put the Packers in Lions territory. It looked like another defensive meltdown was about to happen, but the Lions stepped it up and got the ball back after an incompletion on 4th and 10. Ramzee Robinson got in James Jones' face after the incompletion and was flagged for taunting, but since the penalty happened after the play, it was thankfully still Lions ball.
- The Packers got the ball back after another Lions punt and nearly broke this game wide open. Ryan Grant ran for a gain of 21 yards and was flipped around when he was tackled. Problem is the refs never blew the play dead, as they thought Grant never touched the ground. Grant also didn't think he was down and ran for an 80-yard touchdown. The Lions challenged the play and it was overturned, as Grant clearly was down.
- Although the Lions' challenge prevented Green Bay from scoring a touchdown, it didn't keep the Packers off the scoreboard. Mason Crosby nailed a 36-yard field goal to give the Packers the lead back, this time by a score of 17-14.
- After the Lions went three and out, it looked like this game was as good as over. The Packers had the ball at midfield to start with anyways, and Ernie Sims was flagged for a late hit after Grant ran for 9 yards. Six plays later, the Packers scored again when Aaron Rodgers found fullback John Kuhn for a 5-yard touchdown, making this a 10-point game.
- Just when I thought the Lions were dead, they came roaring back. Dan Orlovsky completed a 35-yard pass to John Standeford, moving the ball into Packers territory. Then, after an incompletion, Standeford caught a pass for a gain of 36, putting the Lions inside the Packers 10. Kevin Smith capped off the minute-long drive with a 9-yard run for a touchdown, making this a field goal game once again.
- It took the Packers only one play to crush any hope of a comeback. On the first and only play of the Packers' next drive, Aaron Rodgers threw a pass to a wide open Donald Driver for a 71-yard touchdown. The coverage was downright pathetic, and it really summed up how bad the defense has played all season long.
- Now trailing 31-21 with over seven minutes left in the game, the Lions needed to score and score somewhat quickly. They moved the ball down the field, but they were doing it fairly slowly. The clock wouldn't end up being an issue, though, as Kevin Smith helped put the nail in the 0-16 coffin with a bonehead move. The Lions were at the Green Bay 30, and Smith shoved the ball in the face of a Packers player on the sideline after a loss of yards on a screen. He was flagged for the move, backing the Lions up almost to the 50.
An incompletion made it 3rd and 29, and the Lions' awful play-calling was shown to us all for hopefully the final time. Despite needing 29 yards to move the chains, Dan Orlovsky dumped a pass off to Jerome Felton for a gain of 2. On 4th and 27, Orlovsky simply threw a Hail Mary in hopes of receiving a miracle. As was the case all season long, that miracle never happened. The pass was picked off, and the Packers ran out the remaining 2:45 to make 0-16 a reality for the Lions.
There is not much else to say at this point other than I am glad this season is over. I do want to be positive and have some hope that the offseason will be better, but the Kool-Aid has gone stale already. Usually the offseason is a fun time for Lions fans as hope runs rampant. However, hope no longer exists after your team goes 0-16.
Rod Marinelli and the coaching staff probably (they better) will be fired, but that only eliminates one problem in this disastrous situation. The fact that the front office won't be changed leaves me wondering how bad things may get. Obviously no one can do as bad of a job as Matt Millen, but that doesn't say a whole lot. I couldn't care less about the potential Martin Mayhew has. It means nothing to me. He has been with this organization for years and was a "Millen man," as he admitted after taking the job.
The only sane solution to this mess it to clean house and hire someone that can get things turned around. Of course, since William Clay Ford is as far from sane as it gets, he is going to keep Lewand and Mayhew, even though there is a chance that he could hire someone like Scott Pioli or another proven winner. There is always the chance that things could get better, especially when you're following a winless season, but right now I have abandoned all hope for the future. Pretty much the only thing that will change that is William Clay Ford losing control of the team, and let's be honest, that isn't going to happen anytime soon.