ARIZONA – The Detroit Lions’ latest loss included a dubious feat, but even their recent woes don’t seem to compare to those of their next opponent.
While the Lions attempt to snap a five-game skid Sunday, the Arizona Cardinals seek to avoid matching the franchise’s longest single-season losing streak and bounce back from one of the most lopsided defeats in NFL history.
After winning 10 games and ending an 11-year postseason drought in 2011, Detroit (4-9) has returned to its losing ways and is well out of the playoff hunt.
Last Sunday, the Lions became the seventh team in league history to blow leads of 10 or more points in three consecutive contests. They led 14-0 in the first half at Green Bay before falling 27-20.
They’ve lost their last five games by an average of 5.2 points.
“It’s very difficult to lose in professional sports, in any kind of sport. It’s even more difficult, I think, when the games are so close,” coach Jim Schwartz said. “Sometimes if you get blown out, you can sort of put it off your radar pretty quickly.”
Arizona (4-9) is hoping that’s the case after suffering a 58-0 shellacking in Seattle last weekend, its ninth straight loss. The margin of defeat was the largest in franchise history and nearly tied the NFL record for most lopsided shutout loss.
“I apologize to our fans and everyone associated with our organization. That was embarrassing,” coach Ken Whisenhunt said. “We owe it to them, our fans, our supports to give them a better product than we did today and going forward that’s what we’ve got to do, we’ve got to work to get better than that.”
The Cardinals haven’t dropped 10 straight in one season since going 0-10 in 1943, when the franchise was based in Chicago. They also shared in an 0-10 finish in 1944 when they merged with the Pittsburgh Steelers because of a player shortage during World War II.
To avoid matching that streak, Arizona likely needs to find a quick cure for an ailing offense. The Cardinals have scored 10.6 points per game during this skid and have gained less than 200 yards in three of their last four contests.
They totaled 154 against Seattle and had almost as many first downs (10) as turnovers (eight). John Skelton had four interceptions and lost a fumble, and it’s unclear if he, Ryan Lindley or perhaps Brian Hoyer, claimed off waivers from Pittsburgh on Monday, will start this week.
Lindley completed eight of 17 passes for 59 yards last Sunday while Skelton was 11 of 22 for 74. Kevin Kolb, who helped lead the team to a 4-0 start, was placed on injured reserve (ribs) Wednesday.
“After a 58-0 loss like that it’s hard to come in to work,” Skelton said. “But whether we like it or not we’re playing those next three games, and I think guys have enough pride to come out and still work and still try to get better for the rest of the year.”
The Lions, meanwhile, are hoping to fight off some key injuries to avoid their longest losing streak since six consecutive defeats to end the 2009 season.
Defensive tackle Corey Williams was placed on injured reserve Wednesday (knee), and tight end Brandon Pettigrew (ankle) and defensive tackle Nick Fairley (shoulder) are being evaluated this week.
The secondary might also be thin if Louis Delmas (knee), Chris Houston (ankle) and Jacob Lacey (foot) can’t go. While Houston and Lacey played through their injuries last week, Delmas sat out as the Lions gave up at least 24 points for the fifth straight game.
One positive streak that was extended last Sunday for Detroit was Calvin Johnson reaching 1,500 yards receiving for a third consecutive season. He’s posted six straight 100-yard games and is 303 shy of surpassing Jerry Rice’s single-season mark of 1,848 yards, set with San Francisco in 1995.
Johnson has been limited to six catches for 72 yards over two matchups with the Cardinals, though these teams haven’t played since 2009.
The Lions have lost the last three meetings overall and five straight in Arizona since winning their first trip there Dec. 12, 1993.
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