Lions Notebook: Consistency the key

The goal seems simple enough -- win two games in a row. But for the Detroit Lions, it amounts to a major accomplishment, something that has happened only twice in the past 5.5 seasons. Much more inside, including game plan against San Francisco, matchups to watch, player notes and more.

The goal seems simple enough -- win two games in a row.

But for the Detroit Lions, it amounts to a major accomplishment, something that has happened only twice in the past 5.5 seasons.

And it makes wide receiver Roy Williams' idea seem even more outlandish.

"We're on our way up," Williams said. "We've just got to put two games together. We haven't done that in, I think, two or three years now.

"I say that we can win nine in a row and I really strongly believe that, as long as we do what we're supposed to do. But you can't get to nine without getting to two. That's our next step."

A nine-game winning streak for the 2-6 Lions? In all of their years in Detroit, they have had only one nine-game winning streak and that was in 1934, their first season after moving to Detroit from Portsmouth, Ohio.

And Williams was only slightly off with his estimate that it had been two or three years since the Lions had won two in a row. It was actually the 2004 season when they beat Chicago and Houston in the first two games of the season.

Should they beat the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, it would match their longest winning streak since owner William Clay Ford hired Matt Millen to run the team at the end of the 2000 season.

While his teammates talk about developing consistency and winning back-to-back games, Williams' focus is on running the table -- winning the remaining eight games and perhaps making it to the playoffs with a 10-6 record.

"I think guys have always been confident," he said. "I think I'm just the one that's going to say it. I think they rely on me to say it so they won't get in trouble and let me be the guinea pig in this thing.

"But we're really high on ourselves, we know that we're a good football team. I know our record doesn't show it but we're a good football team. Like I say, if we want to get to where we want to be -- in the playoffs -- we have to win eight or nine in a row, and we can't get there without winning two in a row."

Playing against the 49ers, two in a row seems at least possible. The 49ers, at 3-5, are only one win better than the Lions and they too are in the process of establishing themselves. They are coming to Ford Field off a 9-3 victory over the Minnesota Vikings but, before that game they had lost four of their previous five games.

Safety Terrence Holt says the Lions' 30-14 upset of Atlanta on Sunday gives them something from which they can work.

"Anytime you get a win you have confidence and being able to have guys back and come fresh off that bye and establish some things is always good," Holt said. "So I think we do have some confidence but we have to try to build that into momentum.

"When you string together some wins or string together some good back-to-back performances, then you can build momentum and sort of have confidence in some of the things you've done. But off one win? Yeah, we're confident, we're happy, we're happy with the performance but we know it's about consistency and stringing together some performances in this league, which is going to dictate how we're going to do from here on out."

GAME PLAN:
Coordinator Mike Martz has the Lions' offense up and running and a high level. In the past six games, they have scored fewer than 24 points only twice and they won one of those games with a 17-point output. The Lions say they are concerned with the 49ers' front four so look for them to continue working the running game to keep the 49ers honest up front. Defensively, the Lions have to get a handle on RB Frank Gore and keep enough heat on QB Alex Smith to keep him from getting the ball to Antonio Bryant, who is averaging 17.9 yards per catch.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH:
--Lions WR Roy Williams vs. 49ers CB Walt Harris. Williams is living up to his potential as a big-play receiver; Harris is tied for the NFC lead in interceptions with four.
--Lions DT Cory Redding vs. 49ers LG Larry Allen. Redding has moved inside from LDE to pick up the slack for at DT for Shaun Rogers (suspended) and Shaun Cody (dislocated toe). He will be giving away at least 30 pounds playing against Allen.
--OLB Ernie Sims vs. 49ers RB Frank Gore. Gore has become a double threat for the Niners with 672 yards rushing and 31 receptions for another 247 yards. Sims, although a rookie, is the Lions' leading defensive playmaker.

INJURY IMPACT: There is at least a chance coach Rod Marinelli might get back two of his injured defensive linemen for Sunday's game against San Francisco. DE James Hall (shoulder) and DT Shaun Cody (toe) were listed as questionable after taking limited work in the Lions' Wednesday afternoon practice. It appears likely that FB Cory Schlesinger, who has missed the last two games with a hamstring injury, will be ready to play but there are indications he might share the playing time with Sean McHugh, although McHugh was listed as questionable with a knee injury.

SERIES HISTORY: 59th game in a series that began 56 years ago. The 49ers have won nine of the last 10 meetings to take a 31-26-1 lead in the series. The Lions have a 16-12 edge playing on their home turf, however.

PLAYER NOTES

  • DE James Hall, the Lions' QB sack leader with five, has been listed as questionable for the game Sunday against San Francisco. Hall missed the 30-14 win against Atlanta and was held out of part of the Wednesday practice when the Lions returned to work.
  • FB Cory Schlesinger could find himself sharing the FB duties with TE Sean McHugh when he returns from a hamstring injury that kept him out of the Lions' last two games. McHugh filled in at FB in the 30-14 win against Atlanta and the Lions coaches felt he did a good job.
  • DT Shaun Rogers is halfway through his four-game suspension for testing positive for a banned substance. Teammate Cory Redding said he talks to Rogers on nearly a daily basis and that Rogers is eager to get back on the field.
  • TE Sean McHugh did not practice Wednesday because of a knee injury and was listed as questionable for the Lions game Sunday against San Francisco. If McHugh is healthy enough to play, there is a chance he might share the FB duty with Cory Schlesinger. McHugh played in Schlesinger's place in the 30-14 win against Atlanta and played well enough for Lions coaches to consider giving him time at FB even when Schlesinger is recovered from his hamstring injury.
  • DT Shaun Cody, who has missed the last three games with a dislocated big toe, has resumed practicing on a limited basis. He is listed as questionable for the Lions' game Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers.

     


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