Notebook: Progress Shows, But Lions Must Win
Lions linebacker Larry Foote (getty)
Lions linebacker Larry Foote (getty)
Special to RoarReport.com
Posted Sep 21, 2009
scout.com


The Lions showed some progress in defeat, including a defense, led by Larry Foote, that helped limit Minnesota's running game. But they're still in the midst of a grueling 19-game losing streak. News, notes, and quotes inside ...

The Lions' losing streak is 19 now.

And counting.

Their next chance to snap it is Sunday against Washington, and there is some hope that they might be able to do it. They're at home; they've never beaten the Redskins on the road. They showed some improvement Sunday in a 27-13 loss to Minnesota; the 'Skins were unimpressive in a 9-7 victory over lowly St. Louis.

The Lions haven't won since Dec. 23, 2007, against Kansas City. They suffered the NFL's first 0-16 season last year. And though they have many new coaches and players with no connection to the past, the record book draws no distinction.

The 19-game losing streak is the second-worst all-time, tying the 1961-62 Oakland Raiders and 1942-43 and '45 Chicago Cardinals. Only one team has ever lost more consecutive games than the Lions: the 1976-77 Tampa Bay Buccaneers lost 26 straight.

"It's a different attitude and everything," said kicker Jason Hanson, in his 18th season with the Lions. "But we've got to fight right now before this starts to snowball and media and fans, rightfully, are going to be like, 'Oh, here we go ...' We've got to cut that right now and do whatever it takes to win."

The Lions did some good things Sunday, but they still lost for the 25th time in their past 26 games and 14th time in their past 15 against the Vikings.

They limited Adrian Peterson, the NFL's leading rusher last year, to less than 100 rushing yards. They sacked future Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Favre three times and didn't allow him a completion longer than 13 yards. They rushed for 129 yards against last year's top rushing defense. They took a 10-0 lead.

But the Lions made too many mistakes. Rookie quarterback Matthew Stafford threw two interceptions. Running back Kevin Smith lost a fumble.

Lions coach Jim Schwartz said the difference in the game was the beginning of the second half. In a matter of minutes, a 10-7 lead turned into a 17-10 deficit.

"I think all in all, we (don't) make those errors, we win the game," center Dominic Raiola said. "I don't think I'm talking about this. We're talking about our first win in 19 tries. It's just frustrating. We lost again."

Schwartz refuses to look for silver linings or moral victories. But that's all the Lions have these days.

"I don't know if you call them growing pains," Hanson said. "But there's some fight. There are some good things. And then there's some disintegration out there."

TRENDING: A week after rushing for only 33 yards at New Orleans, the Lions rushed for 129 yards against the team that had the NFL's top rushing defense last year. The Lions were creative and committed against the Vikings, using pitches and end arounds along with straight power plays. Running back Kevin Smith had 24 carries for 83 yards. Receiver Calvin Johnson had two carries for 16. Running back Maurice Morris had two carries for 15.

BY THE NUMBERS: 5 -- Lions rookie quarterback Matthew Stafford has thrown five interceptions in two NFL games, including two Sunday against the Vikings; counting the exhibition season, he has nine through about 14 quarters. But coach Jim Schwartz wrote them off to aggressiveness and isn't entertaining the idea of switching to veteran Daunte Culpepper. "Matt's our starting quarterback," Schwartz said.

PLAYER NOTES:

  • LG Daniel Loper was inactive Sunday against Minnesota. He was listed on the injury report as probable on Friday, but a knee injury limited him in practice last week.
  • LG Manny Ramirez replaced Loper. He pushed Loper for the starting job in training camp.
  • S Marquand Manuel was helped off the field twice in the second quarter, once with a left leg injury and once with a right leg injury. He returned both times.
  • LB Ernie Sims left the game with a shoulder injury. Coach Jim Schwartz said the Lions needed the MRI results to assess the extent of the injury.
  • DE Cliff Avril was inactive because of a hamstring injury. He did not practice at all last week.

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