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Nate Caminata - LionsFans.com
If points were awarded for failed comebacks, the Detroit Lions would presently reside on top of the NFC Central Division. But they aren't. And following Sunday's 21-13 loss to the San Francisco 49ers, the Lions plummeted further into obscurity ... and into the NFC Central -- and league -- basement."We're still coming up short," defensive end Robert Porcher said after the contest. "I can't begin to tell you how disheartening it is. We've got to keep going and find a way to win.
"Unfortunately, in this league, close isn't a part of it. You either get the job done or you don't."
And because that job hasn't been done, the Lions have lost a team record 7 consecutive games, and are off to their worst start in team history.
The Lions offense, which entered the contest sixth in the league in passing, wasn't even able to muster 90 passing yards. Rookie quarterback Mike McMahon was brought in sparingly, but his brief appearances was unable to jumpstart Detroit. Starting quarterback Charlie Batch, who's job isn't in jeopardy, tossed for just 74 yards on 8 of 20 passing.
Meanwhile, the 49ers put up 427 total offensive yards. The Lions managed just 131.
"I went into the game with the intention of having (McMahon) play the third series of each half," said Lions' head coach Marty Mornhinweg. "That's something we've planned on doing since training camp."
One of McMahon's series led to one of Jason Hanson's two field goals.
Detroit built a 10-0 lead following Robert Bailey's 74-yard interception return, but that lead was quickly squandered when the 49ers responded with two touchdowns. Terrell Owens added the 49ers final score on a 4th quarter touchdown reception, his second of the contest, putting the 49ers in front 21-13.
As they had done all season, the Lions attempted another 4th quarter comeback.
Starting at their own 10 yard line with under two minutes remaining, Batch led the Lions into 49er territory, facing a 3rd and 11 at the San Francisco 42-yard line. However, Batch's underthrown pass to wide receiver Larry Foster -- which would have put the Lions within the 5 yard line -- was dropped, along with any chance Detroit had at attaining a victory.
With injuries to starting running back James Stewart and reserve Lamont Warren, the Lions were forced to start third-string running back Reuben Droughns. Recently re-signed after being waived two months ago, Droughns rushed 10 times for 36 yards. The lack of a constant ground threat forced Detroit to the air -- forcing the ball club into a one-dimensional -- and predicatable -- offense.