When you compile as many losses as the Detroit Lions have over the past few years, there's bound to be some that just leave you shaking your head in disbelief. After watching Shaun Hill toss the Lions' last hopes out of the back of the end zone against Buffalo yesterday, I thought we'd take a look at some moments that just made you shake your head and say, "Well, that's the Lions for ya."
5. Ndamukong Suh's missed extra point vs. Jets (2010)
The Lions had the Jets beat in this game. Detroit was looking for a signature win over the talented Jets and almost had it, holding a 20-10 lead in the fourth quarter. But Detroit, in typical Lions fashion couldn't hold on.
Placekicker Jason Hanson lined up for a routine 21-yard field goal in the third quarter that would have tied the game at 10. The Jets ran into Hanson on the try, however, giving the Lions an automatic first down but injuring Hanson at the same time. Moments later, quarterback Matthew Stafford scored on a one-yard bootleg to give Detroit a 13-10 lead.
In a cruel twist of fate, Hanson's injury prevented him from kicking the ensuing extra point. Defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh came in as the emergency kicker and hit the upright, leaving Detroit with just a three-point lead. It would prove costly. Instead of being up 21-10 as the fourth quarter was winding down, the Lions were only up 20-10, allowing the Jets to just kick a field goal to tie the score after getting a touchdown on the previous drive. Instead of having to go for another touchdown or a two-point conversion to make it a field goal game, the Jets needed only a routine extra point and the three points. New York would kick a field goal in overtime and win the game, 23-20.
4. Shaun Hill tosses the potential game-tying two-point conversion out of end zone vs. Bills (2010)
On the verge of breaking their own record consecutive road losses, there was no better chance for the Lions to end their road woes than the game against Buffalo on Sunday. Buffalo had not won a game all year and had been giving up bundles of points to just about everyone. But Mother Nature had other ideas.
Rainy conditions in Buffalo made this game a sloppy one, but Lions quarterback Shaun Hill found a way to rally his team late in the game. Hill converted three fourth-down plays on the final drive alone before finding Calvin Johnson in the end zone to cut the Bills' lead to 14-12 with 14 seconds left, leaving the Lions just a two-point conversion away from a tie ballgame.
However, Hill couldn't find anyone open on the play, forcing him to try a jump ball in the back of the end zone. He tried lobbing it to tight end Brandon Pettigrew, who was covered by approximately 52 Bills defenders. The Lions never had a chance and the ball sailed out of bounds, ending the Lions' comeback.
3. Dan Orlovsky runs out of the end zone vs. Vikings (2008)
Nobody ever expected Dan Orlovsky to make much of an impact in Detroit. He did, but not in a good way.
The game against Minnesota at the Metrodome during the Lions' infamous 0-16 season will haunt Lions fans for a long, long time. Late in the first quarter, Orlovsky, making his first NFL start in place of an injured Jon Kitna, faced a third-and-10 play at his own one-yard line. Orlovsky scrambled to his right near the back of the end zone looking for an open receiver. And then he kept on going, all the way out of the back of the end zone. Orlovsky had stepped a full two yards out of bounds, giving the Vikings a safety. Had the referees not blown the whistle, Orlovsky might still be running.
A safety in the first quarter isn't a big deal, right? Usually, yes -- except that the Lions lost by two points, 12-10.
2. Don Muhlbach's errant snap vs. Vikings (2004)
Long-snappers can go entire careers in the NFL without fans of their own team even knowing who they are. Any Lions fan can tell you Don Muhlbach's name, though.
Once again playing the Vikings, it was another screwy series of events that ended with the Lions on the wrong side of things yet again. During a 2004 tango at Ford Field with the Lions trailing, 28-21, Joey Harrington found Roy Williams for a one-yard touchdown, capping a nine-play, 80-yard drive with no timeouts in the game's final 1:29. All that was left was the routine extra point to tie the game and send the contest to overtime.
But Muhlbach bounced the snap to holder Nick Harris, who was unable to get the ball in place for Hanson. Harris was unable to turn the play into an impromptu two-point conversion, and Detroit lost, 28-27.
1. Marty Mornhinweg takes the wind in overtime vs. Bears (2002)
The most misguided coaching call of all-time does, in fact, belong to former Lions head coach Marty Mornhinweg.
With the Lions and Chicago Bears deadlocked at 17 and heading into overtime, the Lions won the OT coin toss, giving them the choice of playing defense or offense. With the NFL's sudden death rules, 99 times out of 100 the team that wins the coin toss will take the ball. Mornhinweg was that one exception.
The Windy City was living up to its nickname on that chilly November day, and Mornhinweg thought that Hanson, one of the most accurate kickers in NFL history, would be better off with the wind at his back. Mornhinweg took the wind and let the Bears have the ball.
Paul Edinger hit a 40-yard field goal on the Bears' first try with the ball. Bears 20, Lions 17.