Lions Are Epitome of 'Nice Guys Finish Last'

You can say nice guys finish last. That might be true. But the Lions are working hard and trying hard; they just can't win.

The Lions are 0-14. If they lose Sunday to New Orleans, they will be the first NFL team to start 0-15. If they lose Dec. 28 at Green Bay, too, they will be the first to go 0-16.

But the locker room is surprisingly upbeat, relatively speaking, and free of drama.

"I don't think anybody's going to quit in here," center Dominic Raiola said. "I don't think it's just because of the record. I don't think anybody's quit all year. It's just, we haven't put one together yet."

The Lions haven't judged talent well since Matt Millen became team president in 2001. But at least they have judged character well since Rod Marinelli became coach in 2006.

You can say nice guys finish last. That might be true. But the Lions are working hard and trying hard; they just can't win.

"This team is cut down quite a bit right now, and I just think it's coming closer and closer together," Marinelli said. "I feel just a real good unity to this team, and it's something you emphasize as a coach. I've said it all along: We're going to respect this game and we're (going to) play as hard as we can. We've just got to execute better, and when we do that, we'll win."

Rookie running back Kevin Smith said it's fragile, though.

"Closer?" Smith said. "The team's probably getting closer, but if we go 0-16, I don't think we're going to be very close.

"I'm not going to be a jerk, but I like winning football games. I met everybody here through football and through our jobs. That keeps your spirits up.

"When you're winning and you're feeling good, that makes you want to come to work on your off day and be around the fellas in general. When you're losing, it's a lie to say it's the same feeling. It's not."

How difficult would it be in the offseason if the Lions go 0-16?

"The saying you're only as good as your last game is very true," Smith said. "Going 0-16 is a looooong ...

"It makes it that much harder to run that 100 yards in the offseason or whatever you're doing when you're training. It makes it that much harder to do it when you haven't won a game."

Especially when you're a rookie and haven't won a pro game yet, right?

"No, not especially me," Smith said. "I'm going to go home and work like a beast. I'm an exception. I'm an exception to this 0-14 stuff."

Player Notes:

  • QB Dan Orlovsky looked good Sunday at Indianapolis just six weeks after suffering two fractures and a torn ligament in his right thumb, going 23-for-34 for 233 yards and a touchdown without a turnover. He will start Sunday against New Orleans.
  • RB Kevin Smith was solid Sunday with 20 carries for 88 yards and a touchdown. He has had at least 63 rushing yards in five of his last six games, after failing to reach that mark in his first eight games. Smith also caught six passes for 31 yards against the Colts.
  • WR Calvin Johnson caught a career-high nine passes Sunday and could have caught even more, with Dan Orlovsky making a deliberate attempt to target him. He had 110 receiving yards and a touchdown.
  • WR John Standeford pitched in, with Shaun McDonald and Mike Furrey injured, catching four passes for 36 yards against the Colts. He went through training camp with the Lions, at least. The Lions' third receiver Sunday, Keary Colbert, just arrived.
  • TE Michael Gaines caught a 33-yard pass, his longest of the season, when he found a seam after one safety bit on a play-action fake and the other safety worried about Calvin Johnson.
  • S Dwight Smith is out for the season with a broken ankle that needs surgery.
  • S Stuart Schweigert is expected to see more playing time with S Dwight Smith injured. Schweigert has played mostly special teams since signing Nov. 19.
  • DE Dewayne White had a rough return from a calf injury Sunday, taking a killer personal-foul penalty that led to a Colts score and failing to recover a fumble that an official originally signaled for Detroit.
  • K Jason Hanson kicked a 51-yard field goal Sunday, the 41st field goal of his career from 50 yards or more, an NFL record. He became the first to go 8-for-8 from 50 yards or more in a season.
  • CB Keith Smith aggravated his groin injury Sunday and was to have an ultrasound exam

Lions Report Top Stories