Welp. After a two-week stretch of decent game day records (which included the only date so far with a record above .500), the Detroit Lions are back in the gutter with a disappointing 3-6 record on the date of Oct. 13. Needless to say, this trip back through time will be shorter than usual.
Things started off well for Detroit on the sixth prime date of October, as they defeated the Boston Redskins by a score of 17-7 in 1935. I dug into the game a bit deeper a few weeks ago when Detroit played Washington, but for those who missed it, the game took place at Fenway Park, and prior to this season, it was the last time the Lions beat the Redskins franchise on the road. The game itself wasn't anything spectacular, but the victory helped propel Detroit to its first NFL championship.
Following the game in Boston, the Lions played two straight Oct. 13 games against teams from the Windy City. In 1940, the Lions traveled to play their rival, the Chicago Bears, in a low-scoring, mistake-filled game. After returning the opening kickoff to Detroit's 43-yard line, the Bears scored three plays later -- exactly 89 seconds into the game -- to take a 7-0 lead, and at that point, scoring halted for the contest. Chicago shut down the Lions' star running back, Byron "Whizzer" White, en route to their boring victory. Six years later, Detroit welcomed the other Chicago team to the Motor City -- the Cardinals -- and then fell flat on their faces. The Cardinals pummeled the Lions by a score of 36-14 behind 4 touchdowns by quarterback Paul Christman. By the time Detroit scored in the third quarter, Chicago already held a 36-0 lead.
Luckily for fans keeping track of the Lions' record by date back in the 1950s, Detroit hosted the Los Angeles Rams on Oct. 13, 1957, and won by a score of 10-7. The Lions defense carried the team to victory with 6 interceptions since the offense couldn't muster more than 10 points, all of which came in the second quarter. The 6 picks gave Detroit's secondary 14 interceptions in the first three games of the '57 season. That'd be nice to have right now.
In the next decade, the Lions split the two games they played on Oct. 13: a 17-14 loss to the Dallas Cowboys in 1963 and a 28-10 win against the Chicago Bears in 1968. Again, turnovers cost the Lions a win, as the Cowboys turned 2 interceptions into 10 points. However, Detroit gained revenge in '68 for the Oct. 13 loss against the Bears in '40. Mel Farr pulverized Chicago's defense on their home turf for 3 touchdowns and 210 total yards in the Lions' victory. Detroit scored 1 touchdown per quarter while holding the Bears to 130 yards rushing and 6 for 22 passing for 111 yards.
Unfortunately, this is where the Oct. 13 victories end. The Lions didn't play any games on Sunday's date in the 1970s, and after that, they only played one per decade until now. In 1985, the Redskins -- now in Washington -- did what they did prior to this season, which was demolish the Lions at home. With a final score of 24-3, the game wasn't pretty.
1996 saw Detroit play a rare game against the Oakland Raiders (the two teams have played each other 11 times). Oakland controlled the game from the opening kickoff and jumped out to a 20-0 halftime lead. The Raiders poured on 2 more touchdowns in the third to extend their lead to 34-0 before the Lions scored any points. Scott Mitchell threw 3 touchdowns passes to end the third quarter -- 2 to Herman Moore and 1 to my boy Johnnie Morton -- to give the Lions a little hope heading into the fourth. But Detroit's momentum didn't carry, and Oakland added a field goal to win 37-21.
The last game on Oct. 13 took place in 2002 when the Lions traveled to face the Minnesota Vikings. '02 saw Detroit finish with a 3-13 record, but the team seemed poised to steal a game on the road after outscoring the Vikings 14-3 in the first quarter. Unfortunately, Daunte Culpepper turned it on following the first 15 minutes, and he finished the game with 295 yards passing and 3 total touchdowns.
So even though Oct. 13 hasn't been kind to the Lions, I'm hoping for change to be in the air on Sunday. The Lions and the Cleveland Browns have a rich history with both teams battling atop the NFL back in the day. Both teams enter the matchup with 3-2 records and hopes to restore once successful franchises. I'm looking for something special to happen this game day. I don't know if it'll happen, but it'd be nice to see a great football game between the Browns and Lions end in Detroit's fourth win on Oct. 13.
Overall record on Oct. 13
'35 at Boston Redskins, 17-7
'40 at Chicago Bears, 0-7
'46 vs. Chicago Cardinals, 14-36
'57 vs. Los Angeles Rams, 10-7
'63 at Dallas Cowboys, 14-17
'68 at Chicago Bears, 28-10
'85 at Washington Redskins, 3-24
'96 at Oakland Raiders, 21-37
'02 at Minnesota Vikings, 24-31