I don't know about you, but I'm more convinced than ever the Lions are going 0-16. Why? Because teams as bad as the Lions don't get gift-wrapped opportunities to win like this every week.
They marched inside the Minnesota 10 three times Sunday, they equaled their season total with two interceptions, they forced three Adrian Peterson fumbles and the Vikings lost their starting quarterback to injury in the first half and committed a slew of penalties.
And what did the Lions do with all those breaks? Nothing. They scored all of six points in the first half. They didn't recover a single Peterson fumbles, and backup Tarvaris Jackson became the seventh signal caller this year to set a career-high quarterback rating against the Lions.
The end result: A 20-16 Minnesota win.
It looked like the ball was bouncing our way, and that's something that hasn't happened this year a lot, said linebacker Ryan Nece, whose first-quarter interception set up a Jason Hanson field goal. It was bouncing our way and we just didn't capitalize in certain areas, and it's unfortunate because you got to take advantage. Anytime that football bounces your way you got to take advantage of it and put points on the board and put yourself in a position to change field position or whatever it may be, an opportunistic situation. And we just unfortunately didn't get it done.
The Lions didn't get it done largely because they left too many points on the field early. They reached the Minnesota 4 on their first two drives but had to settle for Hanson field goals. They went for fourth-and-1s on their next two drives and failed to convert (Daunte Culpepper got stuffed on a quarterback sneak on the 5-yard line 46 seconds before halftime).
And when they needed a defensive stop late, there were no plays to be found. The Vikings, ran, effectively, the final 5:44 off the clock, converting a third-and-4 and second-and-13 on Jackson passes to Bobby Wade and Chester Taylor.
I think the biggest disappointment, at the end of the game we've got to stop them, Lions coach Rod Marinelli said. We played well for most of the game and when we had a chance and we needed a stop we didn't get that done.
The Lions are 31-94 since 2001. That's the worst winning percentage (.248) over any eight-season span since 1950, according to STATS. They're also three losses from becoming the first team to go 0-16 in NFL history. Up next is a trip to Indianapolis, winners of six straight. Then a home game against New Orleans and the NFL's top-ranked offense. And the Lions close with a visit to Green Bay, where they haven't won since 1991.
I can't blame Marinelli for being so aggressive early. That was the right call considering how bad the defense has been. But I do take issue with at least one of Jim Colletto's fourth-down play calls. On fourth-and-1 from the 30 late in the first half, Colletto dialed up a pass to John Standeford. This is the same John Standeford who didn't make the team out of training camp. I know Kevin Smith was stuffed for no gain a play earlier, but I'd rather take my chances with a handoff to him, a sneak by Culpepper or a pass to Calvin Johnson.
And before you say the sneak to Culpepper didn't work two series later, there's no excuse for an offense line and a 280-pound quarterback not being able to get an inch, even against Pat and Kevin Williams, two of the best defensive tackles in the game.
Definitely there was a wall, Kevin and Pat Williams, Culpepper said of his failed sneak. They made a play and we didn't make a play, simple as that. It's tough. That's football though.
Culpepper on Marinelli's decision to be aggressive (he said he decided during the week to try and convert fourth-and-3 or shorter in Minnesota territory): You got to be aggressive, I think, in this situation definitely. I like Coach Marinelli's attitude. He's just like, hey, let's go get something, and we just got to when the coach believes in us like that to go for it on fourth down, we got to do our job as players to make the play.
Culpepper did leave late in the fourth quarter with a shoulder injury, which means the Lions could start their fourth different quarterback next week. Jon Kitna made four starts before the Lions stashed him on injured reserve with a bad back, Dan Orlovsky started four games before getting knocked out with a fractured thumb, and Culpepper's started the last five weeks. He said he doesn't know the extent of his injury, but will have an MRI Monday. Drew Henson replaced him for the final play (and was sacked).
There's a chance Orlovsky could return this week. If not and if Culpepper can't go Drew Stanton could make his first career start in what appears to be a totally unwinnable game.
One more quote from Vikings safety Darren Sharper on the atmosphere at Ford Field: It was about a half-filled stadium. It seemed as though we were at a morgue more than a football game.
Lastly, barring the occurrence of some totally newsworthy event, the blog will take a couple days off. I won't be at Marinelli's weekly press conference Monday because my wife and I are expecting our first baby and have our first ultrasound scheduled. I'll return with regular updates Wednesday.