Lions Make History

By: AP
By: AP

DETROIT (AP) -- The Detroit Lions somberly dressed after another defeat that was different than all the others.
This one made NFL history and set the stage for a perfectly imperfect season.
Detroit became the first 0-15 team when it was routed 42-7 by the New Orleans Saints on Sunday.
"Awful, embarrassing," Lions quarterback Dan Orlovsky said. "We stunk. Any bad adjective you can use, throw it in there."
The Lions will try to avoid the dubious distinction of finishing 0-16 at Green Bay, where they haven't won since 1991.
"It's very real," center Dominic Raiola said. "It's right there in front of us. It's pretty sad that it's come to this."
Drew Brees threw for 351 yards and two touchdowns after four Saints ran for scores in the first half in their first game since they were eliminated from playoff contention.
New Orleans was so effective it went 11-for-11 on third down until kneeling on the last play of the game, tied a team record with 32 first downs, and didn't punt.
Brees stayed in the game with a 35-point lead late in the fourth quarter to move closer to Dan Marino's single-season record for yards passing.
"I thought we handled that part of it well in just handling the game the way we're supposed to, and that's to win," Saints coach Sean Payton said. "These guys get paid to play."
Brees needs 402 yards passing at home against Carolina to break Marino's record of 5,084 set in 1984.
"I think we're going do what it takes to win, first and foremost," Brees said. "I'm trying not to think about it as much as possible. It's hard to do because everybody wants to talk about it."
New Orleans (8-7) played its first game since being eliminated from playoff contention.
"We're playing for a lot," Brees insisted. "We're playing to finish the season the right way, with pride."
It's hard for the Lions to have any pride, especially at home.
Detroit broke NFL records by being outscored by a combined 176 points at home and by an average of 22 points. The 1981 Colts lost their home games by 146 points and the merged Steelers and Cardinals were defeated by an average of 21.4 points in 1944 with a depleted roster during World War II.
"This is one big nightmare," Raiola said. "You want it to end, but it hasn't ended yet."
Fans got excited when the Lions finally fired team president Matt Millen following an 0-3 start and a 31-84 mark over seven-plus seasons, but the team hasn't been able to overcome the mess he left behind.
After the game, the Lions released a statement in which team owner William Clay Ford said he expects interim general manager Martin Mayhew and executive vice president Tom Lewand to return next season.
The front office has about four months to figure out who it will take with the No. 1 overall pick in the draft, a slot that was sealed Sunday.
The Lions were routed in their first four games, had a shot to win each of their next four, then showed flashes of competitiveness and extended periods of poor play.
Expansion Tampa Bay set the bar low for NFL futility in 1976, when it finished 0-14, and Detroit is a loss away from making the Buccaneers inaugural season look a little better.
"I think this would be a lot worse," Raiola said.
Detroit seemed doomed early when Skyler Green returned the opening kickoff for 60 yards and Robert Meachem scored on a 20-yard end-around 2 1/2 minutes into the game.
The Lions seemed to tie it on the ensuing drive, but a 52-yard pass to Calvin Johnson was negated because rookie offensive tackle Gosder Cherilus was called for a penalty -- his second of the possession -- because he wasn't on the line of scrimmage.
"It is inexcusable," coach Rod Marinelli said.
New Orleans went 97 yards on its next drive, taking a 14-0 lead on Deuce McAllister's 2-yard run.
Detroit scored its only points on Kevin Smith's 1-yard run early in the second quarter after the Saints bailed out the Lions with a pass-interference penalty on fourth down.
But Mike Bell and Pierre Thomas ran for TDs in the first half, giving the Saints a 28-7 lead.
The Lions opened the second half with a penalty for breaking the huddle with 12 players. It never got any better.
Brees connected with Marques Colston twice in the third quarter for a 42-7 lead and a single-season franchise record of 29 TDs.
The Saints also set a team record with their 50th TD of the year, finishing the game with 53.
Detroit benched Orlovsky early in the fourth quarter after he completed just 10 of 23 passes for 125 yards and two interceptions.
Drew Stanton entered and was 1-of-3 for 12 yards.
It got so ugly fans mockingly chanted "Jo-ey! Jo-ey!" in the half-empty stadium in reference to New Orleans' third-string quarterback Joey Harrington, who was the first of many first-round busts Detroit drafted during an eight-season stretch (31-95) that is the NFL's worst since 1950.
Since the Lions traded Harrington, their No. 3 pick in 2002, they are 10-36 and have won only one of their past 23 games.
"Who would have believed that I was here in the heyday?" Harrington joked. "Things have changed. When I was here, the fans brought `Fire Millen' signs, but still cheered for the team. Now, the ones that do show up bring `Hire Millen' signs and that doesn't help.
"No one deserves to go through this."
Notes:@ The Saints had the best success on third down of any team since 1991, according to STATS. ... Marinelli said Orlovsky will start against Green Bay instead of Daunte Culpepper (shoulder). ... New Orleans TE Jeremy Shockey didn't play in the second half after injuring his right ankle. ... Lions S Daniel Bullocks and Saints S Josh Bullocks, who are twins, played against each other for the first time.


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