No feast for Lions: rally falls incomplete

Detroit's 2-point try with 10 seconds left fails

Pack wins, 29-27

November 23, 2001|By KNIGHT RIDDER/TRIBUNE

PONTIAC, Mich. - The kid almost pulled it off.

Almost registered his name in the Lions' Thanksgiving Day hall of fame.

Almost salvaged a game already conceded to the loss column.

Almost set up the Lions to break their season-long losing streak.


Rookie quarterback Mike McMahon led the Lions to two fourth-quarter touchdowns but missed on the two-point conversion that would have tied the game with 10 seconds to play, leaving the Lions 29-27 losers to the Green Bay Packers in the nationally televised Thanksgiving Day game at the Silverdome yesterday.

The loss was the Lions' 10th in 10 games this season and their 11th in a row over the past two seasons. The Packers kept the pressure on NFC Central Division-leading Chicago with their seventh win in 10 games.

Packers quarterback Brett Favre broke his personal four-game Silverdome losing streak with 18 completions in 26 throws for 252 yards and two touchdowns, but McMahon nearly stole the game in the final seven minutes.

With starting quarterback Charlie Batch unable to play effectively because of pulled groin muscles in both legs, coach Marty Mornhinweg put the game in McMahon's hands with the Lions trailing, 29-13, and just 6:56 to play.

Six minutes and 46 seconds later - after a 1-yard touchdown run by Lamont Warren, a two-point conversion run by McMahon and McMahon's 29-yard touchdown pass to rookie Scotty Anderson - the Lions needed another two-point conversion to send the game into overtime.

McMahon rolled to his right but found nothing but Packers resistance, sprinted back to the other side of the field and finally - realizing he couldn't outrun the Green Bay defenders - lofted a pass that sailed over fullback Cory Schlesinger, uncatchable.

Exciting? Yes.

Entertaining? Yes.

But in the end it was the same result the Lions have been getting all season, a result that left Mornhinweg with a gravelly voice as he faced the obvious situation.

"It's one of those deals," he said. "The goal of this football team is to win a game.

"It's getting a little crazy at this point, but we have character men with a lot of personal pride ... a lot of team pride, and I guarantee you they will come Monday ready to rock `n' roll and ready to prepare for the Chicago Bears."

The Lions also have a penchant for the costly mistake at the most inopportune times. And it surfaced again against the Packers.

Wide receiver Johnnie Morton lost the football at Green Bay's 21 after a 42-yard gain on the Lions' first offensive play. The ball bounced into the end zone, where the Packers recovered for a touchback.

McMahon, being groomed as the possible quarterback of the future, was 4-for-4 converting fourth downs in leading the Lions on the two touchdown drives in the closing minutes.

As has happened all season, however, the Lions played just well enough to come close.

The two-point loss to Green Bay comes on the heels of losses by three points (to Tennessee and Tampa Bay), four points (Cincinnati), five points (Minnesota), seven points (Arizona) and eight points (San Francisco).

Close still doesn't count, though. Not even on Thanksgiving.

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