Since the US National Football League adopted a 16-game schedule in 1978, no team has ever ended a season without a win. Yet, after a record 15 consecutive defeats, the Detroit Lions may be about to change that.
AFP - The Detroit Lions have one last chance on Sunday to prevent their 2008 National Football League season from going into the books as a total failure.
The Lions have already set a benchmark for NFL futility, becoming the first 0-15 team in league history when they were thrashed 42-7 by New Orleans last Sunday.
Since the NFL expanded to a 16-game schedule in 1978, no team has played an entire season without a victory.
The last winless team was the 1976 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who went 0-14.
"If we win, it'll feel like the Super Bowl," said running back Kevin Smith.
That appears to be a big "if," however, since the Lions will be taking on the Packers in Green Bay, where Detroit haven't won since 1991.
"It's a daunting task," Lions quarterback Dan Orlovsky said of winning on the famed "frozen tundra" of Green Bay's Lambeau Field. "I'm sure everyone will be betting against us."
But even as the demoralizing defeats have piled up, the Lions have continued to battle - thanks in large part to the influence of coach Rod Marinelli.
"I just believe in our game, I absolutely love and adore this game and have great respect for it," says Marinelli. "I try to relate that to the players."
Marinelli adds that it would be unthinkable for his players to give up, considering the struggles many in the Detroit area are facing thanks to the ailing economy.
"We have an obligation, not just to play hard, but there's a lot of people out there that are struggling. People have got their eyes on us. So I think it's part of our responsibility to go out and compete and be humble and stay together and work."
Many of Detroit's current woes can be laid at the door of former general manager Matt Millen, who was sacked in September, but not before his dubious personnel decisions had earned him the derision of Detroit fans.
Detroit also go into the game with 15 players on injured reserve, including six who were starters at the beginning of the season.
One bright spot for the Lions has been second-year wideout Calvin Johnson, who has 69 catches for 1,229 yards and 10 touchdowns despite having three different quarterbacks throwing to him this season.
One of the Lions' more frustrating defeats was a 48-25 setback to Green Bay in the second week of the season.
The Lions fell behind 21-0 but fought back to take the lead in the second half.
The Lions couldn't hold on, however. Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers led a drive that ended in a go-ahead field goal and the Packers returned two interceptions for touchdowns in the final three minutes.
"We fought back to get back into the game, and I congratulated them for that, but this league is about winning," Marinelli said at the time.
Unless the unexpected happens on Sunday, the Lions' NFL season will be all about losing.
Date created : 2008-12-28