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Lions tamed as year ends with whimper instead of a roar

Lions tamed as year ends with whimper instead of a roar

A season that began with so much bravado and promise for the Detroit Lions will end like so many others today - with a whimper instead of roar.
Before the first snap of the season, Detroit quarterback Jon Kitna had boldly predicted the Lions could win 10 games this season and return to the playoffs for the first time this millennium.
A victory over the Green Bay Packers on the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field today would give Detroit eight wins - matching their total for the last two seasons combined - but there will be no playoffs and little celebration in the Motor City, where the Lions's record over the last decade has been as gloomy as the Michigan economy.
"We set our goals high, we didn't reach them," defensive tackle Cory Redding told reporters after the Lions snapped a six game losing skid with a 25-20 win over the Kansas City Chiefs in their final regular season home game. "When you put the uniform on it should mean something to you.
"To play in the NFL should mean something to you. Regardless of if we're in the playoffs or not, you have to keep fighting until the end.
"We let it slip, we were playing great and lost it.
"These fans could have stayed home to watch the game on the couch.
"That just shows the character of the city. For all the tough times, bad times, getting laid off, no matter what they stick together."
Long-suffering fans
While Detroit has twice hosted a Super Bowl, the Lions have never appeared in the NFL's championship game.
In fact, since 1957 long-suffering Lions fans have celebrated just a single playoff victory (1991) and have watched their team miss the post-season the last eight years.
The Lions's lack of success stands in stark contrast to Detroit's other professional sports teams.
In the last 10 years the NHL's Detroit Red Wings have won three Stanley Cups and the Pistons have been in the NBA finals twice and lifted the title once.
The Detroit Tigers reached the World Series in 2006 and after an off-season of blockbuster signings are tipped to return in the Fall Classic in 2008.
Even in a city ravaged by unemployment and accustomed to hard times, the Lions's failure stings.
This season brought unusually cruel pain, as the Lions teased their fans by opening the campaign with a 6-2 record then slipped out of playoff contention with six consecutive losses.
"I don't think I'll live to see the Lions in a Super Bowl," long-time season ticket holder Tom Kerkstra told MLive.com.
Kerkstra, 64, has supported the Lions since he was a child but only seen one playoff game and after six straight losses decided not to attend the final home game last Sunday, saying he had, "suffered long enough," and would not be renewing his season tickets.
Halted slide
A victory over the Chiefs on December 23 halted the slide but not the disappointment, as fans vented their frustration on radio phone-in shows, calling for the head of club president Matt Millen.
Much of the blame for the Lions' woes has been laid at Millen's feet, who in seven season's in charge has never seen his team win more games than it has lost.
Unlike last season, however, no fans were spotted at the final home game wearing paper bags over their heads and no one tried to organize a walkout at halftime or a "Millen Man March" in an attempt to get owner William Clay Ford to jettison Millen.
"This is the most wins we've had since I've been here, seven wins," said center Dominic Raiola, in his seventh season with the Lions. "We signed up to play 16 games and hopefully the playoffs...that's not working out.
"But being .500, that's an accomplishment around here."


Updated : 2021-02-26 21:10 GMT+08:00