Lions' futility reaching milestone levels

The Detroit Lions went winless last year and have won one game this year. Their losing ways over the last two-plus years are reaching history levels, despite taking several good leads in recent games, and now they have injuries to deal with as well.

The outlook is as bleak as ever for the Lions. In the past two weeks, they lost to St. Louis, a team riding a 17-game losing streak, and at Seattle, blowing a 17-point first-quarter lead.

Now they play Sunday at Minnesota, and there is little reason to think they are on the verge of turning things around and upsetting the Vikings.

They took a 10-0 lead over the Vikings on Sept. 20, but they blew it and lost, 27-13. Despite playing the Vikings close twice last year, they lost both games en route to the NFL's first 0-16 season.

In fact, they have lost 14 of their last 15 games against the Vikings — and 11 consecutive games at the Metrodome. They have lost 30 of their past 32 games overall.

To put that in perspective, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who began their existence by losing an NFL-record 26 consecutive games in 1976-77 went 4-28 over their first 32 games.

If the Lions lose Sunday, the NFL will see its first 2-31 stretch since the Houston Oilers slid so badly from 1982-84.

No wonder there is talk of morale in Detroit.

"Morale's always an issue on a football team," coach Jim Schwartz said. "Emotion means more in the game of football than in any other sport. This is a team game, and this is a physical game, so you need emotion. Anytime you lose, morale becomes important. When you win, morale's important.

"It's our job to stay resilient. It's our job to see this job through, and we're going to do that."

It's not going to be easy.

Not after rookie quarterback Matthew Stafford threw five interceptions at Seattle, still dealing with effects from his right knee injury. Not with linebackers Larry Foote (knee) and Ernie Sims (hamstring) among the injured. Not with Vikings quarterback Brett Favre settling in with all the talent on his new team.

Stafford and his coaches have said the knee has not been a factor in his performance. But pressed, they say he is not 100 percent.

"I made some bad throws," Stafford said. "But I just need to get used to ... It was only my second game back in a month, and I'm trying to get the strength back more than anything. It's not a fear of injury or anything like that. It's just getting back to playing strength, I would say."

Foote's status is unknown. Schwartz said Monday that Sims' injury had "the potential to be significant," language he usually reserves for long-term injuries. Sims sounded doubtful he would be ready at Minnesota but hopeful he would return relatively soon.

"My body tends to heal up pretty quick," Sims said. "You ask anybody in this locker room. I feel like I'm one of the toughest people on this team. I can play through a lot of injuries."

As for Favre, well, he has been even better than he was in the teams' last meeting, Sept. 20, when he was just breaking in with his new team. And the Lions have struggled to stop quarterbacks of all stripes. Seattle's Matt Hasselbeck posted a 91.1 rating Sunday, and that was the second-worst a starter has posted against them this season.

At 1-7 halfway through their season, the Lions are a mixed bag at best.

"Are we happy where we are? Absolutely not," Schwartz said. "Do we have a long way to go? Yes, we do. Are we working? Sure. Are we seeing positive signs? Yeah. Are we seeing inconsistencies? Yes. Are there changes to be made still? Yes.

"To label us happy or unhappy or anything else — we have work to do every Sunday, and we're not there yet."

SERIES HISTORY: 97th regular-season meeting. Vikings lead series, 64-30-2. The Lions lost the last meeting Sept. 20, 27-13, blowing a 10-0 lead at Ford Field. They have lost 14 of their past 15 games against the Vikings. They have lost their past 11 games at the Metrodome.


  • LB Larry Foote did not practice Wednesday because of a knee injury. His status for Sunday's game at Minnesota is unclear.

  • LB Ernie Sims did not practice Wednesday because of a hamstring injury. He likely will not play Sunday, but he hopes to be back relatively soon.

  • DE Dewayne White did not practice Wednesday because of a toe injury. His status is unclear. He has been nursing a hamstring injury, but the toe injury is apparently new.

  • DT Joe Cohen was listed as limited Wednesday because of an ankle injury. His status is unclear.

  • LB Jordon Dizon was listed as limited Wednesday because of a neck injury. But he likely will be available Sunday. He was healthy enough to practice in nickel situations.

  • FB Jerome Felton was listed as limited Wednesday because of an ankle injury. He has been inactive for two straight games.

  • DE Jason Hunter was listed as limited Wednesday because of a knee injury. He returned Sunday at Seattle after missing two games with an ankle injury but aggravated the ankle and knee.

  • DT Grady Jackson was listed as limited Wednesday because of a knee injury. He did not play Sunday at Seattle, but not because of his knee. He likely will be available Sunday.

  • QB Matthew Stafford was listed as limited Wednesday because of a knee injury. The knee is still bothering him, but he has played with it for two straight games and there is no reason to think he won't play with it again.

  • WR Calvin Johnson practiced fully Wednesday but was listed on the injury report with a knee problem. He returned from a two-game absence Sunday but caught only two passes for 27 yards.

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