The Lions' mid-season resurgence has suddenly gone into reverse and none of them -- including coach Rod Marinelli -- seem to know exactly how to get it back on track.
Two weeks ago, after a 30-14 upset of Atlanta, the Lions felt they had figured it out and -- with San Francisco, Arizona and Miami coming up on the schedule -- felt they had a chance to make something of the season.
Then came the 19-13 loss at home to the 49ers.
And now the 17-10 loss at Arizona.
And they're trying to figure out what they can do to be competitive with the Dolphins in the Thanksgiving Day game at Ford Field.
Whatever modest sense of momentum they had after knocking off the Falcons has been swallowed up by the shortcomings of the past two games.
"After Atlanta we were the best 2-6 team (in the NFL)," said wide receiver Roy Williams. "We're not the best 2-8 team; we're struggling right now."
With their eighth loss in 10 games, the Lions have labeled themselves one of the worst teams in the NFL. They are tied with the Cardinals and Oakland for the worst record in the league, leading the race for the No. 1 pick in next year's draft.
And no one seems to have an adequate answer as to what the Lions have to do to escape the abyss in which they have wallowed for nearly six full seasons.
They say they must be more consistent. They say they must take advantage of opportunities in the red zone. They say they have to eliminate costly turnovers. They say they have to make defensive stops with the game on the line.
Nice generalities, but the feeling coming out of the Lions' locker room after the loss to the Cardinals is that the team is again spinning out of control into the depths of the NFC North.
The offense, which seemed to have mastered the Mike Martz system a couple of weeks ago, struggled again against Arizona, with just 10 points in three trips into the Cardinals' red zone.
From the 10-yard line in the first quarter, after a blocked punt by special teammer Casey FitzSimmons, quarterback Jon Kitna was intercepted.
From the Cardinals' one-yard line midway in the third quarter, they lost three yards on a run by Arlen Harris, lost four yards on a pass to Dan Campbell, lost six yards on a sack by Bertrand Berry and settled for a 32-yard field goal.
And, finally, after getting to the Cardinals' three-yard line, they scored -- on the third running attempt by Harris -- to pull within seven points with 5:13 left in the game.
Plenty of time to get the ball back, but the Lions couldn't pull it off and they were beaten again.
"The last two weeks we haven't performed the way we want to perform," Kitna said. "I think teams have caught up to us a little bit and have shown us some things we hadn't seen on film. Those are the type of things we've got to address, week in and week out, and make things happen.
"But we're going to keep plugging along. We're not going to hang our heads about anything. There are six games left in the season and we're still building this thing from the ground up, trying to build a good foundation."
As if they didn't already have enough problems, four more Lions suffered injuries in Arizona and were unable to finish the game.
Defensive tackle Shaun Cody, who was coming back from a dislocated big toe, reinjured it in the first quarter and it is uncertain whether he will be able to play Thursday against Miami. Punt and kickoff returner Eddie Drummond suffered a concussion, running back Kevin Jones suffered a sprained ankle of undetermined seriousness and wide receiver Devale Ellis injured a shoulder.
"That's hard but nobody wants to hear excuses in this league," Kitna said. "It is what it is. The guys out there are the guys you're playing with and you've just got to plug away at it and see what happens. It's very frustrating, no question."