Lions hope for '01 repeat

December 07, 2008|By Ken Murray | Ken Murray,ken.murray@baltsun.com

The last time the Lions started a season 0-12, they avoided 0-16 infamy with a Week 14 victory over the Vikings at the Pontiac Silverdome. Seven years later to the week, Detroit is 0-12 once again and welcomes Minnesota to Ford Field today with a chance to repeat history.

The outlook is so grim that Lions coach Rod Marinelli showed players a team photo Monday and said they didn't want to wind up in the Pro Football Hall of Fame as the first team to go 0-16.

The Lions came from behind in 2001 to beat the Vikings, 27-24, on Cory Schlesinger's touchdown with 10 minutes left. The starting quarterback for Minnesota that day was Todd Bouman, now the third quarterback with the Ravens.

Bouman said he remembers the Lions being 0-12 in that game. It was his second start after replacing the injured Daunte Culpepper, and it ended with ligament damage in his right thumb. Culpepper signed with the Lions this season and will start today. Does Bouman think the Lions can do it again?

"Anytime you're playing in the division, a lot of things can happen," Bouman said last week. "The NFC North is no different than any other division."

The best news for the Vikings last week was that they wouldn't lose defensive tackles Pat Williams and Kevin Williams - at least yet - to an NFL anti-doping suspension.

Around the league

The Chargers continue to say Norv Turner will return next season as coach despite this year's meltdown. In fact, general manager A.J. Smith accepted blame for the team's fall to 5-8. "I believe the bulk of the failures of 2008 so far falls clearly on my shoulders," Smith told The San Diego Union-Tribune. "Player personnel has been inadequate on many fronts, and I need to do a better job of adding the right players and carefully assessing the players we now have and have committed to for our future."

According to Stats Inc., Falcons rookie quarterback Matt Ryan isn't fazed by teams that blitz him. He has been blitzed 91 times this season and completed 56 passes (61.5 percent) for 729 yards with three touchdowns, three interceptions and two sacks. When teams don't blitz, he has completed 61 percent.

If the Broncos win the AFC West, they likely will look back to an Oct. 20 loss in New England as a turning point. After giving up 257 rushing yards to the Patriots, coach Mike Shanahan had his players put on pads and helmets twice a week and start hitting in practice. Shanahan also abandoned his 3-4 experiment, and the results have Denver in first place at 7-5. In the first seven games, through the Patriots game, the Broncos allowed 154.6 rushing yards per game and 5.4 yards per carry. Since then, they're allowing 129.8 per game and 4.2 a carry.

Cowboys QB Tony Romo has had back-to-back 300-yard passing games (and six in nine starts this season), but now comes the hard part. December. Romo is just 4-7 in two Decembers as the starter with 11 touchdowns, 14 interceptions, two lost fumbles and 25 sacks. Which Romo will it be when the Cowboys play the Steelers in Pittsburgh today?

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