Lions Notebook: Cardinals pose a threat

The Lions have played the Arizona Cardinals in each of GM Matt Millen's five seasons, going 3-2, including wins at Ford Field in each of the last three seasons. But the Cards have won the last three in the desert. Inside: Additional notes, stats, matchups to watch and much more.

ALLEN PARK -- The Detroit Lions have been the worst team in football during Matt Millen's tenure at the top, losing at least 10 games in all five of his seasons, and looking like a sixth is on its way.

Luckily, for Millen and the Lions, they get to play the Arizona Cardinals every year.

The Lions have played the Cardinals in each of Millen's five seasons, going 3-2, including wins at Ford Field in each of the last three seasons. Detroit has only beaten one other team that many times since Millen took over in 2001, going 4-7 against the Chicago Bears.

That doesn't mean much to Lions coach Rod Marinelli, though. Marinelli's "just play the next snap" mantra means he doesn't want the team thinking about last week's loss to the 49ers, much less victories over Arizona from last year and beyond.

"You learn from games -- good or bad -- and then you put it aside and move forward," he said. "You focus on the next game."

Detroit has struggled defensively during its 2-7 start, and will now have to face Arizona's top-flight receiving duo -- Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald. Both have good histories against the Lions -- Boldin had 10 catches for 217 yards and two touchdowns against the Lions in 2003 -- the first game of his career -- and Fitzgerald had nine receptions for 141 yards and a touchdown last year.

"Larry Fitzgerald has really become a threat and Anquan has always been the big threat -- we've seen that from both of them," said Lions safety Terrence Holt. "And Matt Leinart is getting better every day."

Holt, though, couldn't bring himself to anoint Fitzgerald and Boldin as the NFL's best tandem.

"I'm too biased," he said. "I'll still take my brother Torry and Isaac Bruce. But these two are good."

With the Cardinals posing a potent scoring threat, the Lions know they will need more offense they managed in Sunday's six-point loss to San Francisco.

"I'm not worried about what their offense does, I can only worry about what we do," said Jon Kitna. "I just know we have to score more than 13 points."

Kitna, though, isn't too concerned about the weak performance against the 49ers.

"We can't let one bad game discourage us, because we had four or five good games before that," he said. "We have to build on those."

SERIES HISTORY: 58th game in the series, dating back to a scoreless tie between the Chicago Cardinals and Portsmouth Spartans in 1930. Overall, the Lions hold a 31-21-5 lead, including home wins in each of the last three years. The Cardinals have won the last three meetings in Arizona, though, including a 23-20 overtime victory in 2002.

Lions coach Rod Marinelli isn't happy that he's 2-7 in his rookie season, but he knows from first-hand experience that things can get better.
In 1996, his first year as a defensive line coach for Tampa Bay, the Buccaneers started 1-8. They finished with five wins in their final seven games, then went to the playoffs in 1997.
"That was exactly the same thing," he said. "It's all about discipline, and sometimes people aren't comfortable until they've created the habits. You go back and you re-teach and re-teach and you just keep doing it. Eventually, it changes."

BY THE NUMBERS: 0 -- Number of sacks by Lions starting defensive ends Kalimba Edwards and Jared DeVries this season. With DE James Hall (five sacks) out for the year with a shoulder injury and DT Shaun Rogers (two) still having one game to go on his drug suspensions, Detroit's active defensive linemen have combined for 5 1/2 sacks, all but two of them by DT Cory Redding.

Rogers is eligible to return for the Thanksgiving Day game against Joey Harrington and Miami.

GAME PLAN: On offense, the Lions will be trying to attack Arizona's weak pass defense, which is ranked 29th in the NFL, but will try to avoid Cardinals SS Adrian Wilson, described by Jon Kitna as one of the NFL's best defenders. When the Cardinals have the ball, the Lions will need to find a pass rush so that Matt Leinart doesn't have a chance to find Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald, both of whom have torched Detroit in the past.

Lions QB Jon Kitna vs. Cardinals SS Adrian Wilson. Kitna considers Wilson one of the NFL's best defenders, and will have to watch for him all over the field. Wilson has three interceptions this year as well as four sacks.
Lions CB Dre Bly vs. Cardinals WR Anquan Boldin. Boldin had the greatest NFL debut in history against Bly and the Lions in 2003, catching 10 passes for 217 yards and two touchdowns. Bly is usually Detroit's best playmaker on defense, but only has one interception this season.

INJURY IMPACT: The banged-up Lions defense was unable to stop Frank Gore last week -- he rushed for a 49ers-record 148 yards in the first half -- and now they have to stop Edgerrin James and one of the league's best receiving duos in Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin. Detroit will probably be missing both starting defensive tackles -- Shaun Rogers (drug suspension) and Shaun Cody (dislocated toe) for the fourth game in a row -- and converted end Cory Redding is less than 100 percent with a strained calf. Without them, the Lions will need huge games from rookie LB Ernie Sims and underachieving DE Kalimba Edwards.

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