The Lions' passing game is getting shorter and shorter.
After completing 13 of 21 passes for 117 yards in the 23-13 victory against Oakland, second-year quarterback Joey Harrington is averaging 5.01 yards per attempt, the lowest average among NFL starters.
His only completion for more than 14 yards was a 33-yard touchdown pass to fullback Cory Schlesinger, who surprised Raiders cornerback Phillip Buchanon by going down the sideline instead of flattening out coming out of the backfield.
Nine of Harrington's 13 completions against the Raiders went to running backs, one went to tight end Mikhael Ricks and only three went to the wide receivers -- a 10-yarder to Scotty Anderson, a five-yarder to Az-Zahir Hakim and a two-yarder to Shawn Jefferson.
"We called some shots down the field," coach Steve Mariucci said. "We threw one and just missed Billy Schroeder. We called several others and the ball was checked down a couple times, for very good reason.
"A couple of times I would like Joey to give our receivers a chance if they are even or have a step on a defender. That's an area that hasn't been as productive as it needs to be.
"It's quite obvious our backs are catching more passes than our receivers, and our tight ends, too. So we continually look for ways to improve that."
Except for the 33-yard completion to Schlesinger and a 19-yarder to Schroeder late in the Chicago game October 26, Harrington hasn't had a completion of more than 15 yards in the past three games.
Harrington agrees he needs to go downfield but says it's possible to win by playing the short passing game, combined with a solid running game.
"You can get by," Harrington said, "but you have to take a shot every once in awhile. You've got to take a chance down there but you have to pick your spots wisely; you can't just force something down there just because you haven't thrown the ball down the field in awhile.
"Some times it's just getting in the right play against the right defense and kind of falling into one, but you do need to take your shots every once in awhile just to let them know you're a threat to go deep."