"I don't know how much closer we can get to a win," said center Dominic Raiola, after the Lions were beaten by the Packers 28-26. "I guarantee you this team can't wait to get out to practice on Wednesday and to get back on the field next Sunday because it's on.
"We've got 53 guys in here that believe. We've never been this close. Say what you want but we know where we were on that field today. I looked up and I've never seen that stat board look like that at Lambeau Field."
They had 431 yards of offense to 261 for Green Bay. Shaun Hill completed 34 passes for 331 yards. Aaron Rodgers was 12 of 17 for 181. The Lions were on the wrong end of only one statistic - the final score.
"You can pinpoint the plays that keep us from winning," Raiola said. "Our offense gave them 14 points - a pick-six and a turnover deep in our own end - and we've got to score touchdowns when we get down there. We had too many field goals."
Two turnovers, 13 penalties for 102 yards and four long drives in the second half that ended in Jason Hanson field goals of 39, 52, 49 and 24 yards kept the Lions from winning their first game in Wisconsin since 1991 (20 straight losses).
"It's the same thing every week," said cornerback Chris Houston, who had one interception and another nullified by a penalty. "One or two plays and we win the game. We've got to find a way to get over the hump, somehow some way."
The one mistake that ultimately proved fatal came on the third play of the third quarter. Packers' cornerback Charles Woodson intercepted Hill's pass and returned it 38 yards for a touchdown.
It was his franchise-record eighth interception return for a touchdown, his third pick-six against the Lions in three years and it put the Lions in a 28-14 hole.
But the Lions fought back and were within two. They had the ball at the Packers' 37, fourth-and-9 with 6:32 left. Coach Jim Schwartz opted to punt rather than have Hanson try would have been a 54- or 55-yard field goal.
"The wind was significant there," Schwartz said. "That would have been a long field goal similar to the one he missed at the end of the half. It was too long for him to make and we decided to punt and pin them down. We had a lot of momentum on defense and it was a one-score game."
The Lions never got the ball back.
They played without quarterback Matthew Stafford (shoulder), wide receiver Nate Burleson (ankle) and middle linebacker DeAndre Levy (groin). By all measures, it appears Hill will start again this week.
"Shaun is a warrior and he's a competitor," Schwartz said. "I am glad he's on our team. He had some turnovers, but you look at how they happened and he made the right plays. I know there are some plays he'd like to have back but he's battling and he's keeping us in the game."
- Look for CB Alphonso Smith to replace Jonathan Wade in the starting lineup against the Rams. Wade was beaten repeatedly early, once for a touchdown by tight end Jermichael Finley and on a 48-yard bomb to Donald Driver. "We had to put out a fire there," Schwartz said. "I thought Alphonso did a good job with that." Smith picked off his second pass of the season.
- Teams continue to take away the Lions' deep threat and the Lions continue to punish teams underneath. Hill completed 14 passes combined to tight ends Brandon Pettigrew (eight) and Tony Scheffler (six) for a total of 154 yards. The Lions also, for the first time, threw the ball to Calvin Johnson despite double coverage. The result: He had six catches for 86 yards and two touchdowns.
- RB Jahvid Best played despite a sprained toe, but he struggled. He fumbled, slipped and fell on a pass route that resulted in an interception and had 50 yards in 12 carries, three fewer than quarterback Shaun Hill.
- RB Kevin Smith played for the first time since knee surgery in January and had four carries for 22 yards.
- CB Chris Houston finally recorded his first interception. He's had two nullified by penalty.
- DE Kyle Vanden Bosch was penalized three times for jumping offsides, part of the Lions' 13 penalties for 102 yards. "I had too many myself," he said. "That's something I can't do. Part of my role is to be a leader and to be smart."
- WR Calvin Johnson has had three multiple touchdown days in his career. All three against the Packers.
- QB Shaun Hill had 21 completions in the first half. They last Lion to have at least 20 in a half was Scott Mitchell back in 1995.