GREEN BAY, Wis. - The Detroit Lions own a distinction no team wants: worst in NFL history.
Facing one last chance to avoid a dubious destiny, the Lions lost yesterday's season finale to the Green Bay Packers, 31-21, to complete the league's first 0-16 season. The 1976 expansion Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-14) were the last NFL team to complete a season without a victory.
"I've got to live with this," center Dominic Raiola said. "I've been here eight years. This is on my resume."
It didn't come without a fight. After falling behind by 24-14 midway through the fourth quarter, Kevin Smith's 9-yard touchdown run put Detroit within a field goal.
But Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers responded with a 71-yard touchdown pass to Donald Driver, and the Lions' Dan Orlovsky threw an interception on a fourth-and-27 play with 3 minutes left.
"No competitor wants to go through something like this," said Lions coach Rod Marinelli, who declined to discuss his future. "This is not fun to go through, obviously. But there's people going through a lot worse than this."
The Lions were building toward this for years; they have lost 23 of their last 24 games. The 0-16 record is testimony to the Matt Millen era. With Millen as president of the team from 2001 until he was fired on Sept. 24, Detroit won only 31 games.
"It can't do anything but motivate you," Orlovsky said. "I don't ever want to be a part of this again. We haven't won since, November of '07, maybe? I don't even know the last time we won a game."
In fact, the Lions have not won since Dec. 23, 2007, when they beat Kansas City. Green Bay is where this woeful streak began at the end of last season. Since then, the Lions have lost 17 straight and have been outscored by 551-281.
Marinelli has gone 10-38 in three seasons. His future has not been announced, but team owner William Clay Ford has decided that the leaders of the front office, Martin Mayhew and Tom Lewand, will be back in some capacity.