The Detroit Lions are the worst road team in NFL history after losing their record-setting 24th road game in a row, erasing the old Houston Oilers from the record books, and locking up sole possession of the dubious distinction.
You could argue that this was Detroit's worst road loss of the eight this year. With the Carolina Panthers resting five starters they still held the Lions to just eight first downs on the afternoon and coasted to an easy 20-14 win over Detroit.
Lions quarterbacks Joey Harrington and Mike McMahon were pathetic and neither looked like an NFL caliber quarterback. Harrington was just 3-of-8 for 17 yards; McMahon came off the bench to go 4-for-11 for 36 yards and an interception.
Meanwhile, rumors continue to swirl regarding the fate of Lions President and CEO Matt Millen. Millen has presided over a team that has never won a road game in his three-year tenure and has won a combined nine games in three years.
NFL sources are telling theInsiders.com network that Millen will likely be bought out of the final two years of his five-year contract and Detroit will move to hire former Lions player and scout Rick Spielman to replace him with Steve Mariucci, Detroit's head coach assuming more responsibility.
Spielman, currently serving as senior Vice President of football operations and player personnel for the Miami Dolphins, has for his part, steadfastly denied that he has been contacted by the Detroit organization.
Spielman told both the Miami Herald and Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel that he has not been contacted by Detroit for any position in the Detroit organization but it is known that Detroit has twice contacted Spielman previously about re-joining the club in some capacity.
Ironically, Spielman is under fire in Miami for his poor drafts that have resulted in just four starters in three years. Former Green Bay Packers CEO Ron Wolf is rumored to be among the candidates who could replace Spielman should Miami decide to make a move.
Whether or not Detroit is considering Wolf is unknown.
One thing that is known is that Detroit needs an infusion of talent on both sides of the football.
The Lions looked as if they were "mailing" this one in as Carolina encountered little resistance in a surprisingly easy 20-14 win. Carolina easily drove down the field mixing the run and the pass at will as DeShaun Foster, Carolina's backup running back behind all-pro Steven Davis, rushed for 76 yards on 21 carries.
It took the Panthers just five plays from the opening kickoff to move down the field and score on a Jake Delhomme 20-yard pass to Steve Smith to give Carolina a 7-0 lead after Detroit lone pro-bowler Dre' Bly, bit on a run look
Detroit broke down in every phase of the game. After going three-and-out, as Joey Harrington missed receivers with throws that were long, wide and behind them, Nick Harris uncorked a 23-yard punt, giving the Panthers a short field. A holding penalty prevented the Panthers from cashing in, at least temporarily.
Heralded running back Artose Pinner, who Millen targeted with his fourth-round draft selection, rushed for 22 yards on 12 carries, while the player Millen passed over, Onterrio Smith, Joey Harrington's former backfield mate at Oregon, rushed for 147 in a Minnesota Vikings win over Kansas City on Saturday.
The Panthers upped their lead to 14-0 after a 10-play drive led to a Delhomme 10-yard touchdown pass to Foster to end the half.
John Kasey added to the Panthers lead with field goals of 42 and 44 yards before the Lions showed any signs of life.
As Carolina attempted to run out the clock, Lions corner Dre' Bly forced a DeShaun Foster fumble which was returned 62-yards by rookie linebacker Boss Bailey to get Detroit to within 20-14.
But instead of electing to go for the onsides kick with just 3:44 remaining, Mariucci elected to kick deep. Detroit never got the ball again as Carolina converted two third down situation including a gift on third and four when Detroit jumped offside.
At 4-11, Detroit will play out the string next week at home against the St. Louis Rams (11-3) playing for home field advantage throughout the playoffs.