Disappointing losses are nothing new to the Lions. They've lost 35 of the 43 games they've played since owner William Clay Ford hired Matt Millen to execute a massive team overhaul at the end of the 2000 NFL season.
But the Lions have a particularly tough assignment facing them this week with only three days to gather themselves from the disheartening 24-14 loss to Minnesota for their Thanksgiving Day game against the Green Bay Packers.
Instead of having a light day Monday and the day off Tuesday, the Lions were back on the practice field Monday, will have a heavy day of work Tuesday, will lighten up Wednesday and play the Packers on Thursday.
The Lions seemed almost thankful for the short week, which will leave little time for them to brood over the last-minute loss.
"It's good because we didn't look at the Minnesota film at all," coach Steve Mariucci said. "The coaches did, we graded it, but we didn't show it to the players. We didn't have time. We went right on to the Packers scouting report."
The Lions had the good fortune to escape the Minnesota game with a minimum of physical problems.
Cornerback Dre' Bly missed several plays late in the game with his tender hamstring and was held out of the Monday workouts but it appears likely he will play on Thursday, as will running back Shawn Bryson and wide receiver Bill Schroeder, both of whom sustained minor concussions at Minnesota.
NOTES, QUOTES, ANECDOTES
--QB Joey Harrington will face one of his biggest challenges this week after playing perhaps his worst game of the season in the 24-14 loss to Minnesota. Harrington was not his usual upbeat self, appearing somber and disappointed after being intercepted twice for touchdowns in the final three minutes.
--CB Dre' Bly rested his tender hamstring Monday but the Lions are hopeful their most productive defensive playmaker will be able to play Thursday against Green Bay in the annual Thanksgiving Day game. Bly sat out several plays after aggravating the hamstring late in the Minnesota game but returned to play and said he expects to be ready for the Packers.
--WR Bill Schroeder, the Lions' second-leading WR with 23 receptions for 283 yards and a touchdown, suffered a slight concussion in the 24-14 loss at Minnesota on Sunday but it is believed he will play Thursday against his former Green Bay teammates in the Thanksgiving Day game.
--RB Shawn Bryson, the Lions' most productive offensive player with 397 rushing yards and 255 receiving yards, sustained a mild concussion in the 24-14 loss at Minnesota but is expected to be ready to play in the Thanksgiving Day game against Green Bay.
--RB Artose Pinner, the Lions' fourth-round draft pick from Kentucky, was moved from the reserve/non-football injury list to the 53-man roster Monday. Pinner is coming off a broken left ankle suffered in the Senior Bowl game in January and still has some discomfort in the leg when he gets tired. It is not likely he will play Thursday against Green Bay but is expected to get playing time in the remaining month of the season.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "Thursday is the Lions and the Cowboys; that is what Thanksgiving is. It doesn't matter what your record is or who you're playing, the whole country is going to be watching. That's how you pick yourself up." -- QB Joey Harrington on what the Lions have to do to get over their last-minute loss to Minnesota in time for the Thanksgiving Day game against Green Bay.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
REPORT CARD VS. VIKINGS
PASSING OFFENSE: D-minus -- QB Joey Harrington had probably his worst game of the season. He completed 21 of 41 passes but gained only 167 yards, again checking down to short and frequently unproductive completions instead of throwing downfield. WRs Az-Zahir Hakim (7 catches for 61 yards, 1 TD) and Bill Schroeder (3 for 44) had no drops, but the Vikings' two interceptions for TDs in the final three minutes snuffed out any chance of a win.
RUSHING OFFENSE: D-minus -- Aside from QB Joey Harrington's two rushes for 34 yards, the Lions running game was good for a grand total of 40 yards on 17 carries from Shawn Bryson and Olandis Gary.
PASS DEFENSE: C -- Vikings QB Daunte Culpepper was not playing particularly well but the Lions still deserve some credit for shutting down the big-play part of the Minnesota offense. The Lions sacked Culpepper three times and FS Brian Walker intercepted him in the end zone once. DE Robert Porcher, who had one-half sack in the first 10 games, had two against Culpepper in what was probably his best game of the season.
RUSH DEFENSE: C -- The Lions got burned by RB Michael Bennett for a 25-yard touchdown run in the first quarter but gave up rushing yardage grudgingly the rest of the game. CB Dre' Bly produced another big play -- stripping Vikings RB Moe Williams, recovering the fumble and, just before he could be tackled, lateraled the ball to SS Corey Harris, who scored a touchdown.
SPECIAL TEAMS: D -- The Lions special teams are in a slump. A week ago they gave up an 83-yard PR touchdown to Seattle's Bobby Engram and this week they mishandled PK Jason Hanson's field goal attempt at the end of the first half. First holder Nick Harris was called for a delay of game and then Hanson missed a 43-yard FG attempt.
COACHING: C -- Defensive coordinator Kurt Schottenheimer did a good job of taking away the Vikings big plays and keeping the Vikings out of the end zone but Mariucci's offense was not productive. Perhaps Mariucci's best move was to keep QB Joey Harrington in the game for the closing two minutes after being intercepted twice for TDs by the Vikings.