Lions look to revive run game

As the Lions prepare to play the New York Giants in what coach Rod Marinelli has called "a statement game," they are coming off the worst rushing performance in modern NFL history.

Minus-18 yards?

As the Lions prepare to play the New York Giants in what coach Rod Marinelli has called "a statement game," they are coming off the worst rushing performance in modern NFL history.

What the Lions did in Sunday's 31-21 loss at Arizona wasn't an NFL record. The Lions hold that for posting minus-53 yards Oct. 17, 1943, at the Chicago Cardinals. But before 1947, sack yardage was included in rushing yardage.

Minus-18 is the lowest rushing-yardage total any NFL team has posted since the accounting rules were changed 60 years ago, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The Lions had only eight rushing attempts, tied for third fewest in NFL history.

The first time the Lions ran the ball Sunday, they scored. Running back Kevin Jones ran for a four-yard touchdown early in the first quarter, giving the Lions a 7-0 lead. But then Jones started two drives with four-yard losses and failed to gain on third-and-one as the Cardinals stacked the line of scrimmage.

Some feel the Lions should have stuck with the run, or at least mixed in the run more often, despite the poor results.

"When teams play as aggressively against the run as they did, what you need to have happen is to pop one of those where it kind of sets them back on their heels," quarterback Jon Kitna said. "You can't have pep rallies in your backfield."

But the Lions didn't hand off the ball to a running back in the third quarter. The only time offensive coordinator Mike Martz called a running play, wide receiver Shaun McDonald ran an end-around, lost 15 yards and lost a fumble.

And the Lions ran the ball only twice in the fourth quarter, to bad results both times. Running back Aveion Cason ran for one yard on third-and-two, then running back T.J. Duckett was stuffed for no gain on fourth-and-one.

Marinelli said the passing strategy was sound. The Lions were running into a brick wall. They were trailing in the second half, and they moved the ball better than they did all day when they threw it in the third quarter.

"We felt that was the best way to move the ball against this football team," Marinelli said.

"They stacked it inside. You saw those guys moving around, right? Linemen getting up, moving around, that's tough in terms of run blocking. We had some runs, lost some yardage early. But we knew going in that was going to be tough sledding."

NOTEBOOK:

  • Coach Rod Marinelli can't wait for the Lions to host the Giants on Sunday, then the Packers on Thanksgiving Day. "It's a statement game for us," Marinelli said. "We've got two great football teams coming in back-to-back, two home games in front of our fans at Ford Field, something we're looking forward to. So we've got to get ourselves ready. No one's in the tank. That word's not allowed here."
  • This is not a developmental year for the Lions, in Marinelli's mind. "I want to win now," Marinelli said. "I've said it to our team. I've said it to you guys. It's all about now. To me, coaches use that excuse that they are building for this. I've never said that, and I never will. We're in the hunt right now. ... Anything else, I'd be insulting our players because they're a good team, and we've got to show a great resolve right now."

    INDIVIDUAL PLAYER NOTES:

  • CB Fernando Bryant suffered a foot sprain, not an ankle injury, Sunday at Arizona. He was on crutches in the locker room afterward, but coach Rod Marinelli said Monday that Bryant was only questionable for this Sunday's game against the Giants.
  • QB Jon Kitna woke up Monday morning with a sore lower back, according to Marinelli. But Kitna said he was fine and didn't anticipate missing any practice time, let alone Sunday's game.
  • RB Kevin Jones, who left Sunday's game twice because of a sore foot, was sore Monday, but no more than usual, Marinelli said. Jones has managed soreness since returning from a serious foot injury.
  • WR Calvin Johnson aggravated his back a bit when he fell on it Sunday, but it doesn't seem to be serious.
  • OL Jonathan Scott is very doubtful for Sunday because of his broken thumb, meaning struggling George Foster will continue to start at right tackle. Scott was to see the surgeon who operated on the thumb last week to see how soon he could return.
  • DE Dewayne White will be close to returning from his triceps injury Sunday, Marinelli said.

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