The Lions broke their own record of road futility today, losing their 25th consecutive away game. The depressing streak breaks the 24-game road losing streak the Lions had from 2001-03. Perhaps the worst part about this new streak is that the record-breaking loss came to a 0-8 Buffalo Bills team. Pop the champagne, Rod Marinelli, because the Lions' record for the worst season ever is now safe for another year.
All in all, this was just a painful game to watch. The offense was downright terrible from the very beginning, and although the defense played relatively well, only allowing 14 points, there were occasional screw ups that were annoying to see. Even so, this game was not the defense's fault. The blame goes squarely to the offense, which managed to score only 12 points en route to a 14-12 loss to Buffalo.
In the first half, the Lions could not do anything on offense. All they managed was a 25-yard Dave Rayner field goal as the second quarter came to an end. Thanks to the defense, the field goal meant the Lions were down only four points, because all Buffalo got was a one-yard Fred Jackson touchdown run. The Bills had it deep in Lions territory the drive before they scored but turned the ball over on downs when the Lions made a big stop on fourth and short. Buffalo responded by getting a big pass to Lee Evans on the next drive, setting up the touchdown, but that was it for the Bills.
In the second half, it was all Bills early on, though that wasn't saying a whole lot. After having a punt return for a touchdown called back because of a holding penalty, the Bills drove down the field and Jackson scored on a 16-yard run in the latter stages of the third quarter to put Buffalo on top, 14-3. The Lions continued to struggle and had their first four drives of the second half end like this: punt, punt, punt, missed field goal.
In the fourth quarter, with time starting to run down, the light finally went on for the Lions, but it was too little too late. Detroit got back into the game with a 45-yard field goal, cutting the lead down to one possession. After a stop, the Lions got the ball back and drove down the field 88 yards for a touchdown with only 14 seconds left on the clock. They converted three fourth downs along the way, and the last one turned out to be a 20-yard touchdown pass to Calvin Johnson. Unfortunately, the touchdown only made this a two-point game. The Lions needed to convert a two-point conversion to send this game to overtime, but that did not happen. Hill had nobody open and tried lobbing the ball to the back of the end zone, but he ended up throwing it out of the end zone altogether. The play pretty much summed up how crappy of a game this was for Detroit, as it sealed the 14-12 loss.
Although the defense gave up 133 yards rushing to Fred Jackson today, they were not the problem for the Lions, as they only allowed 14 points. It was all on the offense in my mind. Despite outgaining Buffalo by a total of 390 yards to 290 yards, the Lions' offense just looked lost out there. Shaun Hill looked off, throwing a ton of inaccurate check downs and not wanting to throw deep, and the run game was absolutely pitiful. Coming into this game the Bills were at the bottom of the league in rushing yards allowed, yet the Lions managed to pick up only 76 yards on 29 carries. Jahvid Best averaged 2.1 yards a carry, gaining a dismal 35 yards on 17 attempts. Nate Burleson, by comparison, picked up 17 yards on one end around.) The awful rushing game wasn't all on Best by any means, though. The offensive line got blown up on seemingly every run play and the playcalling was extremely questionable. Scott Linehan was too stubborn and kept trying to run up the middle despite there clearly being nothing there, and the Lions' rushing stats show what a mistake that was.
Every year there is a certain point when fans start to give up on the Lions. This is when the draft becomes a hot topic and the phrase "wait until next year" becomes a common theme to discussions. Well, I think we've officially hit that point. Last week's game was disappointing, but at least the Lions played well. Today, the game was disappointing and the Lions looked awful. With Matthew Stafford unlikely to return again this season, I'm officially at the point where I just don't care anymore. Bring on the draft talk and bring on being hopeful about 2011, because the Lions looked like they packed it in today.
There's an old adage in sports about not letting one loss turn into another, but I think that's exactly what happened today. Not having Stafford was the biggest problem for sure, but overall the demeanor of the team just looked like they were still deflated from losing to the Jets and didn't care. After witnessing their terrible performance, that's a good way to describe the fan base, because I'm sure I'm not alone in being deflated and not caring. At this point it just doesn't look like there is anything to look forward to the rest of 2010 based on today's laugher in Buffalo.
I guess the one positive for the Lions is that they have another chance to break this ridiculous road losing streak next week when they head to JerryWorld to play the Cowboys. Then again, I don't think you're going to get a better chance of ending a losing streak than against a 0-8 team, so it wouldn't surprise me one bit if the Lions find a way to make Jon Kitna and the hapless Cowboys look good.