Lions Notebook: Ford's Wallet Takes A Hit

Lions fans finally might be fed up enough to put a little dent in owner William Clay Ford's wallet. Also, many tidbits and player notes as the Lions prepare for Washington.

Lions fans finally might be fed up enough to put a little dent in owner William Clay Ford's wallet.

Despite all the Lions' losing in recent history, Ford Field has sold out every game since it opened in 2002. The Lions have sold out 51 straight games, dating back to their Silverdome finale in '01.

But as of Wednesday afternoon, about 6,000 tickets remained unsold for Sunday's game against Washington.

"That's our fault," coach Rod Marinelli said. "That's my fault. If we were playing better and if we were executing better and were winning more, then they would come. That's on me."

As center Dominic Raiola said after the Lions' most recent defeat, no one wants to see an 0-6 team. The Lions know the fans who do show up might not be in a good mood.

"It's up to us to change that," quarterback Dan Orlovsky said. "The people of this city deserve a winner. People have been saying that for 40 years. And until they get it, they're not going to be happy."

It's not just that the Lions have lost. It's that they haven't been even competitive in five of their six games. They have faced a 31-0 deficit, three 21-0 deficits and a 21-3 deficit.

They rank last or pretty low in every major category - passing offense (22nd), rushing offense (30th), total offense (27th), pass defense (31st), rush defense (31st) and total defense (32nd).

And they just finished the easy part of their schedule. Combined record of the Lions' previous opponents: 19-21 (.475). Combined record of their future opponents: 41-26 (.612). None of their future opponents has won fewer than three games.

The Lions can only hope they can sneak up on the Redskins the way the Rams did two weeks ago.

The Rams' 0-4 start was even worse than the Lions'. They were outscored by 104 points; the Lions were outscored by 81. But the Rams replaced coach Scott Linehan and with defensive coordinator Jim Haslett, then upset the Redskins, 19-17.

"That's kind of the rumor about the Redskins, that we will play down to teams," Washington tight end Chris Cooley said Wednesday.

The problem is, the Redskins (5-2) know that's the rumor, insist they did not overlook the Rams and seem motivated to prove something Sunday by not overlooking the Lions.

"We didn't underestimate St. Louis," Cooley said, blaming turnovers and penalties. "We took it very seriously. When we reviewed the game, we all felt like we played a good game. We just had some stupid mistakes.

"But the media blew it out of proportion that we were a team that plays down to other teams' level, that we were a team that was going to slack off that week, and we really weren't."

Cooley said the Redskins wouldn't slack off this week, either.

"We're not going to underestimate Detroit," Cooley said. "I think they're a good football team. They've had opportunities to win games. They've been close a few games. So you can't look past a team like that."

SERIES HISTORY: 37th meeting. Redskins lead, 26-10. At least the game is at Ford Field. The Lions have never won at Washington - 0-for-18 in the regular season, 0-for-21 including the playoffs. The Lions' last victory over the Redskins was at the Silverdome in 2000.

Notes of Interest:

  • After the Lions' 34-3 loss on a hot afternoon at FedEx Field last year, Redskins tight end Chris Cooley told a Washington radio station they couldn't take the heat. "They were dead in the second half," Cooley said then. "They didn't care." Asked Wednesday if he expected the Lions to do the same thing if they fall behind this time, Cooley paused and said: "Um, you know, I don't think you would ever expect that out of a team. We did feel like we took over the game in the second half, obviously by the score that was apparent."

    The Lions have shipped out some players from last year's team, and though they have faced huge deficits in five of their six losses, they have fought back in every game but one. (And this one's indoors at Ford Field.) "Detroit plays extremely hard," Cooley said. "They don't quit. ... Obviously they've been struggling a little bit, but when you keep an effort like that, you have the ability to make a lot of plays."

  • Right guard Stephen Peterman played Sunday at Houston after sitting out two games with a broken left hand. He wasn't confident at first, though. "I was just like, 'Man, please don't break on me again, screws pop out,'" Peterman said. "But once I got going, I was fine. I was a little sore after the game, but today I practiced and felt good. I went out there and felt like it was normal, so everything's fine."
  • The Lions want to improve their return game, but they can do only so much. "We're looking," Marinelli said. "There's not a lot of options for us right now. But it's something we're still looking at." Was that a failure in the off-season? "I think so," Marinelli said. "We have not found that guy, especially kickoff returner. It's not there." The Lions were counting too much on Aveion Cason, who went on injured reserve. "We thought we had AC," Marinelli said. "He was good. He was good, not great, but he was good at it. I think we didn't have a backup plan for it, a good enough backup plan."
  • BY THE NUMBERS: 51 - Straight home games the Lions have sold out, a streak that could end Sunday against Washington with the Lions 0-6.
  • QUOTE TO NOTE: "Hopefully they do. If they're going to overlook us and not respect us, we'll go in there and get a win." - RG Stephen Peterman, on the Redskins' potentially taking the Lions lightly.
  • The Lions started three different offensive linemen Sunday at Houston than they did the previous week at Minnesota. They likely will make at least one more change this week, putting rookie Gosder Cherilus back at right tackle instead of veteran George Foster. It is unclear whether Damion Cook will stay at left guard instead of Edwin Mulitalo.
  • Coach Rod Marinelli seems to be leaning toward giving young players more playing time. Linebacker Jordon Dizon and running back Kevin Smith are expected to see more snaps.
Player Notebook:
  • WR Shaun McDonald finished Sunday's game at Houston with a strange stat line - no catches for minus-seven yards. He caught a lateral and then tried to lateral again, but the ball went out of bounds. "That was funny," McDonald said. "I don't think I'll ever end with stats like that ever again." McDonald was supposed to get more action after the trade of wide receiver Roy Williams, but he didn't blame the play calling. He had three or four balls thrown to him. On one play, he was mugged by the defensive back on a deep ball. "That definitely should have been called," he said. On the others? "I had some chances, didn't make some plays," McDonald said. "I'm disappointed in myself. I expect to go out there and play a good game."
  • S Dwight Smith had a mid-foot sprain and is expected to miss one to two weeks. He was in a boot Wednesday during practice.
  • S Gerald Alexander was to fly to California to see a surgeon about his fractured vertebra.
  • LB Jordon Dizon did not practice Wednesday because of a hamstring injury but is expected to be available Sunday against Washington.
  • DT Cory Redding did not practice Wednesday because of a knee injury but said he would play.
  • DT Chuck Darby was limited because of a calf injury, after sitting out Sunday at Houston, but is expected to be available for Washington.
  • DT Shaun Cody was limited because of an elbow injury but is expected to be available.

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