The Detroit Lions have been in this position before. In December 2003, Detroit set an NFL record by losing its 24th consecutive road game, a 20-14 defeat at the hands of the Carolina Panthers. But the Lions went on to break the streak by beating the Chicago Bears in their 2004 opener.
In order to avoid eclipsing their own record, the 2-6 (0-4 on the road) Lions will have to beat the Bills in Buffalo on Sunday, a manageable task if Buffalo’s 0-8 record is any indication. Yet the Bills have been competitive of late, losing their last three games by three points each—against the likes of the Baltimore Ravens, Kansas City Chiefs, and Chicago Bears.
Of course, the Lions might have put an end to the streak on September 12 in Chicago, except that an apparent last-minute Calvin Johnson touchdown catch was ruled incomplete. Technically, it was the correct call, but one that appeared to be an injustice.
However, the Lions and their fans have suffered quite a few indignities in recent years. On November 24, 2002, former head coach Marty Mornhinweg chose to have the wind at his team’s back after winning the overtime coin toss in a game against Chicago. (The Bears took the ball and proceeded to kick a game-winning field goal.) And on October 12, 2008, quarterback Dan Orlovsky, making his first NFL start, accidentally ran out of the back of his own end zone during a first quarter pass play, giving the Minnesota Vikings a 2-0 lead. (The safety proved to be the margin of defeat for the Lions, who lost 12-10.) And most notably, on December 28, 2008, the Lions were defeated by the Green Bay Packers 31-21, earning the dubious distinction of becoming the first 0-16 team in NFL history.
Longtime general manager Matt Millen had been fired early in the 2008 season (almost three years after the Millen Man March, in which Lions fans took to the streets of Detroit to protest the contract extension he had recently received), but the damage he did is still evident in the on-field product. Witness the current road losing streak.
As for the currently winless Bills, well that’s another story.