This Lions game day in history: Dec. 29

Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Take a look back at how the Detroit Lions have fared on the date of Dec. 29.

With the final game day of the season, there's not much history left to talk about. The Detroit Lions don't have a rich postseason history, and the regular season didn't extend into late December until recently. Because of this, the Lions have played just two games on Dec. 29, with one being way more important than the other: the 1957 NFL Championship Game against the Cleveland Browns and a meaningless contest against the Minnesota Vikings in 2002.

Best Game: 1957 NFL Championship - Detroit Lions 59, Cleveland Browns 14

It's the most recent championship for the Lions, as well as their biggest margin of victory in a title game. After squeaking by the Browns for championships in '52 and '53, Detroit decided to bring the pain in '57. It didn't matter that star quarterback Bobby Layne sat out with an injury, because backup Tobin Rote stepped in to torch Cleveland's defense for 280 passing yards, with 4 touchdowns through the air and 1 on the ground. By halftime, the Lions led 31-7, and after the Browns scored first in the third quarter, Detroit battened down the hatches. For the game, the Lions held rookie running back (and future superstar) Jim Brown to just 69 yards and 1 touchdown on 20 carries while forcing Cleveland into 6 turnovers. The dominant victory avenged an embarrassing 56-10 championship game loss to the Browns in '54.

Worst Game: 2002 - Minnesota Vikings 38, Detroit Lions 36

In a shootout between Daunte Culpepper and Mike McMahon, the "lummox" (as my aunt, who is a Vikings fan, affectionately called Culpepper during his playing days) came out on top thanks to a failed Detroit 2-point conversion with 13 seconds remaining. To get in position to tie the game, McMahon led the Lions from their own 39-yard line with 1:06 left via a 22-yard rush and 2 passes to wide receiver Scotty Anderson. The loss ended the pitiful Marty Mornhinweg era and ushered in the mediocre Steve Mariucci regime.

Overall record on Dec. 29


Game scores

'57 vs. Cleveland Browns, 59-14 (NFL Championship Game)

'02 vs. Minnesota Vikings, 36-38

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