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The Detroit Lions’ last loss to the Bengals sent the franchise spiraling

This 2017 game changed the course of the Lions’ franchise... for the worst.

Detroit Lions v Cincinnati Bengals Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images

You ever watch an 80s action movie that featured a large explosion? It doesn’t have to be from the 80s, but that decade had the biggest explosions. The point I’m trying make here is that before the explosion, there was perfectly good car or building standing there. There’s always some sort of bomb or gasoline that hasn’t yet been detonated or ignited.

In 2017, the Detroit Lions were that car or that building. They were a perfectly good team with star players and up and comers. They were 8-6 with a good shot at the playoffs. All they had to do was not blow up. Then they traveled to Cincinnati where they met a 5-9 Bengals team with just enough spark to blow up the entire damn Lions team.

This loss was the catalyst that put the Lions on the road to being the team they are today. Who could have known that the explosion caused by this team would lead to this? Here’s everything that very quickly happened after this loss.

Eight days later, the Lions fired Jim Caldwell. Three weeks later, the Lions would hire Matt Patricia. The Lions have won 15 games since then. On top of that, there are exactly three players on the current Lions roster—Taylor Decker, Jalen Reeves-Maybin, Darren Fells—that played for the Lions in that game. I’m not sure that Fells inclusion in there really even counts since he was gone after that season and came back in 2021. I’m going to make a ruling, it doesn’t count.

Since this game, the Lions have drafted 24 players (excluding 2021). Of those 24, only 15 remain. We did a list of the top 10 players we believe will be a part of this rebuild for the long term a few weeks back, only four of the remaining 15 made that list. To put bluntly, the Matt Patricia era produced, at most, one handful of players that will stick around through the current rebuild.

The Lions shed themselves of every star player they had, and they have next to nothing to show for it. They traded Quandre Diggs for a fifth-round pick that turned out to be Jason Huntley, a running back who no longer plays for the Lions. They traded Golden Tate to the Eagles for a third-round pick that turned out to be Will Harris who currently grades out at 30.0 on Pro Football Focus. They then traded Darius Slay to the Eagles for a third round and fifth round pick in the 2020 draft. Through more trades they parlayed that into Jonah Jackson. Fine.

They released Eric Ebron. They let Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones, Graham Glasgow and Devon Kennard walk in free agency, and prior to 2022, they didn’t even have a compensatory pick to show for it. Plus Glover Quin flat out retired and so did T.J. Lang. The Lions also worked themselves in having more dead money than any team in the entire league. Worst of all, Matthew Stafford bolted, not wanting to have to deal with another multi-year rebuild. It’s incredibly hard to blame the guy after things went this sideways this fast.

So much has happened to this team since that game. I don’t believe in curses, but if I did, it wouldn’t be the Bobby Layne curse that I’d be worried about. It would be the Bengals curse. That loss started the complete destruction of this football team. Also, if I believed in supernatural curses, I’d probably believe that the only way to break that curse is for the Lions to beat the Bengals on Sunday.

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