The hope was that the Lions would upset San Diego, take the momentum into Sunday's game against Kansas City and beat the Chiefs.
The thought was that might set up an interesting finale at Green Bay -- a game that meant everything to the Lions but nothing to the Packers, a chance to win for the first time in Wisconsin since 1991 and maybe sneak into the playoffs.
But all that went out the window after Sunday's 51-14 loss at San Diego, the Lions' fourth road loss by more than 30 points, their fifth by a double-digit margin.
Now the Lions are reeling more than ever entering Sunday's game against Kansas City. They have lost six straight since their 6-2 start. Quarterback Jon Kitna finally admits they have no chance to reach his off-season target of 10 victories or more.
"It would be nice to win both of these last two games, not just one of them, and finish 8-8 and continue progressing," Kitna said. "We're all disappointed. That's what the statement was in the off-season, that if you don't get to 10 wins you're going to be disappointed. Right now, we don't have that opportunity to get to 10, and there's disappointment here. I've said that all along. But you've got to continue to progress and be a tough-minded person and bounce back from this."
Bounce back? The Lions have been bouncing around all season. Coach Rod Marinelli preaches consistency, and the Lions have been anything but consistent. Good effort one week. Lousy effort the next. Most recently, they were lethargic in a 42-10 loss at Minnesota, then showed heart in a 28-27 loss to Dallas, then looked awful in their loss at San Diego.
"The thing I told them is that we've got to get back and find out what we're made of this week," Marinelli said. "We came out last week and played about as hard as you can play and tackled and hustled, those things, and then we come out here and we don't do that. It's a lack of consistency, mental toughness, whatever you want to call it. But it's just inexcusable, and we've got to get it corrected."
How devastating would it be, considering their 6-2 start, if they lost out and finished 6-10 -- their seventh straight season with double-digit losses? It would at least be alarming, according to offensive lineman Jeff Backus.
"Obviously, we put ourselves in a great position in the first half of the season," Backus said. "Were we playing our best football? No. But the expectation was that we were going to start the second half of the season playing our best football, and we haven't done that.
"I think right now we're being put through a great test, seeing how we'll respond to this in the last couple week. The goal of making the playoffs pretty much is just gone. We've lost a number of games in a row. We'll see how we respond to it."
Individual Player Notes