|Lions have shot to make dubious history at 0-16|
|Written by Admin|
|Thursday, 20 November 2008 12:47|
Sure, they're 0-10 and the league's only team mathematically eliminated from playoff contention.
But if Detroit loses Sunday at home to Tampa Bay and the following five games, it will infamously become the NFL's first 0-16 team.
``People should be getting nervous,'' Lions kicker Jason Hanson said. ``We've got something to play for. It should be motivating. There's no sense in acting cool about it. We're staring it in the face.
``We better be something to avoid it. The sooner the better. The pressure is on us.''
The Lions' remaining opponents have a combined .633 winning percentage, tied for the toughest in the league with the Eagles and Panthers, according to STATS.
ianapolis (6-4), against New Orleans (5-5) at home, and on the road versus Green Bay (5-5).
No, there are no gimmes, particularly for the lowly Lions.
Detroit's best shot at winning might come against the Vikings - 10 days after playing the Titans on Thanksgiving - after nearly beating them last month at the Metrodome.
Minnesota escaped that game with a 12-10 victory thanks in part to a questionable pass-interference penalty and a memorable safety in which Lions quarterback Dan Orlovsky obliviously ran out of the back of the end zone when he was rolling out to pass.
That's when defensive end Dewayne White started letting his red beard grow, vowing not to cut it until the Lions won.
``I think I'm about to cut it because too many people are noticing,'' White said sheepishly.
The last time Detroit had this bad a start was 2001, when it went 0-12 before beating the Vikings at home. Former Lions receiver Johnnie Morton heaved his helmet in the air like it was a graduation cap after the win and lashed out at Jay Leno, who made the NFL's laughingstock the butt of his jokes.
Leno and Co. have left the Lions alone for now, but that won't last if they keep losing.
The Baltimore Colts are the last team to finish a season without a win, falling to 0-8-1 in the 1982 strike-shortened season.
The 1976 Tampa Bay Buccaneers were the last team to complete a full season winless, plummeting to 0-14. But that was the first season for the expansion team.
Since the schedule expanded to 16 games in 1978, this is the 11th time a team has started 0-10 or worse, according to STATS.
The New Orleans Saints came close to infamy in 1980 when they began 0-14, and the Miami Dolphins teased imperfection last season, losing their first 13 games.
Coach Rod Marinelli, whose 10-32 record is the worst among his peers, insisted he doesn't consider the possibility of an 0-16 record.
``I don't look for disaster,'' Marinelli said. ``I don't look for disease and I don't look for speculation. I look to lift these men up - that's my job - and to get them ready to play a really exciting game at home against Tampa Bay.''
Detroit has had chances to win five of its game and has been routed five times.
Perhaps coincidentally, teams have had a hangover of sorts after playing the Lions because Houston is the only team which has won its next game following a matchup with them.
Offensive tackle Jeff Backus has started each of the 122 games since 2001, when Detroit started its descent to the league's basement under president-general manager Matt Millen, who was fired in September. Backus said the losing led to some disturbing phone calls recently.
``I got my first person to call me and leave dirty messages in eight years,'' Backus said. ``I don't know how he got my number, but I know who he is. It was the last few weeks, but not anymore. It's been taken care of. But for the most part, people have been great.''
Center Dominic Raiola, who was also drafted by Detroit in 2001, was once booed at a Red Wings game when he was shown on the video boards.
That experience, along with more losing, has led to him avoiding going to Red Wings and Pistons games to stay out of public as much as possible.
``Fans have the right to be angry, but I don't want to hear it because I don't want to get into it with anybody, because I would say something back,'' Raiola said. ``There's nothing to be happy about. This is football season and we're failing as a football team. This occupies about 60 percent of my life and there's nothing to be happy about.''