As the Lions prepare for Sunday's game at Arizona, quarterback Jon Kitna will take nothing from last year's 17-10 loss there.
Well, almost nothing.
"I think the one thing I'll watch from that game is how far we've come and how bad of a football team we were last year at times," Kitna said. "You just know that, hey, we just didn't deserve to win a game down there last year."
That game was brutal. The Cardinals had lost eight straight games, had made headlines for their infighting and had a lame-duck coach in Dennis Green. They were the only NFL team with a record worse than Detroit's when the day began. But they took a 17-0 lead, and when the day was over, the Lions were tied with the Cardinals and the Raiders for the worst record in the league at 2-8.
But now the Lions are 6-2, off to their best start since 1999, and they don't feel they have played up to their potential yet, especially on offense.
The Lions' passing attack is supposed to be the strength of the team. The theory coming into the season was that the Lions would have to throw a lot and try to win shootouts because the running game was weak and the defense was porous.
But the passing attack hasn't really clicked yet. The running game has improved lately, and the defense has come up big. The Lions' 24 sacks are tied for fifth in the NFL, and their 14 interceptions rank first.
"Offensively, I still believe the best is ahead of us," coach Rod Marinelli said. "I know that."
Look at the Lions' No. 1 wide receiver, Roy Williams.
At the halfway point last year, Williams had 44 catches for 719 yards. He ended up leading the NFC in receiving yards with 1,310. At the halfway point this year, Williams has 43 catches, virtually the same number. But he has only 568 yards, a big drop-off.
"We're not getting the chances to throw the football down the field with the way teams are playing us -- a lot of Cover 2 and safeties really deep and things like that," Kitna said. "They're trying to see how patient we'll be with the running game. I think that's the biggest thing."
Offensive coordinator Mike Martz has been more patient with the running game the last three weeks. Running back Kevin Jones has continued to improve since returning from a serious foot injury. The more the Lions have run the ball, the better they have run the ball, as the offensive line has gotten into a rhythm.
"We're just going to continue to run the football, if people want to play like that, and then when we get opportunities, we're going to take it down the field," Kitna said. "Teams are trying to take the explosion plays away from us. That's kind of where the league is headed right now. We'll just continue to be patient."
SERIES HISTORY: 59th meeting. Lions lead, 31-22-5. The teams have played eight times in the last nine years, and the Lions have gone 3-5. The Lions haven't won in Arizona since 1993.
"We play all the top teams in the NFC," quarterback Jon Kitna said. "It's up to us. It's all right before us. Coach Marinelli says it every day. We've got everything to gain. It's right there. We have no excuse. We play everybody."
Kitna has not thrown an interception in three straight games and in four of the Lions' last five games. "I think turnovers come when you get in kind of desperate situations," Kitna said. "The last few weeks, we've stayed in football games and we haven't had to take a lot of chances and things like that and you can be a little bit smarter with the football. But I need to be even more aggressive with the football so we score touchdowns instead of field goals."
"Man, I don't know," Rogers said. "I have no real answer for any of those actions Sunday. Just going out there and playing on emotion, trying to help my team get a win."