Despite winless record, 0-14 Lions sticking together

ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- The Detroit Lions are proud that they've stuck together and competed during their winless season.

Players haven't blamed teammates, coaches or the front office.

Rod Marinelli has steadfastly stood by his much-maligned players and oft-criticized staff during a march toward NFL infamy.

Would those feel-good facts comfort quarterback Dan Orlovsky if the Lions end up being the league's first 0-16 team?

"No, it would be embarrassing," Orlovsky said Monday. "At the end of the day, you don't want that next to your name."

Detroit (0-14) needs to beat the New Orleans Saints (7-7) on Sunday at home to avoid the first 0-15 record in league history.

If the Lions lose, their season will mercifully end at Green Bay -- where they haven't won since 1991 -- hoping to avoid the dubious distinction of being the NFL's first team to finish 0-16.

"We know the situation ahead of us and the circumstance," said Orlovsky, who will start against New Orleans. "We have a really good group of guys who aren't going to quit. Everyone knows what we're trying to avoid."

The 1976 expansion Tampa Bay Buccaneers were the last team to go winless in a full season. Four years later, the Saints were 0-14 before averting history with a victory.

Detroit had a shot to win Sunday at Indianapolis, tying the game early in the fourth quarter on a 91-yard drive and two-point conversion before giving up 10 straight points and losing 31-21.

Marinelli said Colts coach Tony Dungy, with whom he coached in Tampa Bay, didn't offer pity or sympathy.

 Lions coach 
 Rod Marinelli

"That would be an insult. I'd take it as an insult," Marinelli said. "He expected me to come out and compete. That's what we're supposed to do."

Teams in all sports are also supposed to be more competitive at home than on the road, but that hasn't been the case in the Motor City.

If the Lions are outscored by six points by New Orleans, they will set an NFL record for the worst point differential at home, according to STATS. The 1981 Colts were outscored by 146 at home.

Detroit has been outscored by an average of 20.1 points at home, the worst point differential by a team at home since the 1960 Dallas Cowboys lost by 20.8 on average, according to STATS.

On the road, Detroit has been beaten by an average of nine points.

"I didn't know there was a difference," defensive end Dewayne White said. "I couldn't tell you why."

The Lions do know why they haven't added to their misery with bickering, complaints and problems off the field. They credit Marinelli, who looks and sounds as determined and optimistic as he did in Week 1.

"Rod has done a really good job of maintaining a positive attitude even amid the attacking he's been through," Orlovsky said. "It's hard to block it out. You never want to hear things being said about yourself, your teammates -- people you're around more than your families this time of year."

Jeff Backus knows it could've been even tougher to endure this season if the losing turned teammates against each other. That happened in Detroit three years ago -- a 5-11 season -- when cornerback Dre' Bly said coach Steve Mariucci wouldn't have been fired if quarterback Jeff Garcia stayed healthy and kept Joey Harrington on the bench.

"It could be a mess. It could be a soap opera in here, but it's not," Backus said. "I think it's just the type of guys Rod and the front office brought in here."

Marinelli acknowledged his cohesive team exhibiting what he calls "football character" does give him some level of satisfaction.

"I've said all along, I'm extremely proud of this team and how they work," Marinelli said. "We've just got to go get a win."

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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