NFL roundup: Lions one loss away

Published 12:00 am Monday, December 22, 2008

Associated Press
DETROIT ó The Detroit Lions own a dubious piece of NFL history ó with perhaps more on the way.
Detroit became the first 0-15 team ever when it was routed 42-7 by the New Orleans Saints on Sunday. The Lions will try to avoid a perfectly awful season in the finale at Green Bay, where they haven’t won since 1991.
“It’s very real,” center Dominic Raiola said. “It’s right there in front of us. It’s pretty sad that its come to this.
“This is one big nightmare. You want it to end, but it hasn’t ended yet.”Drew Brees threw for 351 yards and two touchdowns after four Saints ran for scores in the first half. Brees stayed in the game with a 35-point lead late in the fourth quarter to move closer to Dan Marino’s single-season record for yards passing. He needs 402 at home against Carolina to break Marino’s record of 5,084 set in 1984.
“These guys get paid to play,” Saints coach Sean Payton said.
The Lions were outscored by a combined 176 points at home, smashing the previous record of 146 set by the 1981 Colts. Only the expansion Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1976 went through a season winless in the modern era, but it was a 14-game schedule.
It got so ugly fans mockingly in the half-empty stadium chanted “Jo-ey! Jo-ey!” in reference to New Orleans’ third-string quarterback Joey Harrington, who was the first of many first-round busts Detroit drafted during its miserable eight-season stretch.
Since the Lions traded Harrington, they are 10-36 and have won only one of their last 23 games.
“Who would have believed that I was here in the heyday?” Harrington joked. “Things have changed. When I was here, the fans brought ‘Fire Millen’ signs but still cheered for the team. Now, the ones that do show up bring ‘Hire Millen’ signs, and that doesn’t help. No one deserves to go through this.”
Redskins 10, Eagles 3
LANDOVER, Md. ó As Reggie Brown caught the ball near the goal line on the final play, cornerback Fred Smoot lifted him into the air and safety LaRon Landry supplied the shove that kept the Eagles receiver out of the end zone. With no timeouts remaining, Philadelphia couldn’t stop the clock as the last seconds ticked away.
“I just wanted to get my hands on the ball,” Brown said. “And they were there to jump on me.
“The implications of this game were enormous for this team. And unfortunately we didn’t get it done in the end. It’s something that’s heavy on your chest.”
Philadelphia has a must-win game at home against Dallas in next week’s season finale and still could fall short of the playoffs with a victory.
Clinton Portis scored his first touchdown in eight weeks in a win that offered the Redskins a consolation prize on the day they were mathematically eliminated from the postseason.
Falcons 24, Vikings 17
MINNEAPOLIS ó Atlanta’s stunning turnaround season will roll on into the playoffs thanks to Matt Ryan’s poise, Justin Blalock’s hustle and the Vikings’ generosity.
Ryan threw for a touchdown and made no big mistakes, Blalock recovered a fumble in the end zone for another score and the Vikings committed four turnovers as Atlanta (10-5) clinched a postseason berth.
“We set milestones, and we’ve reached those milestones at a much quicker pace than we had anticipated,” first-year coach Mike Smith said.
Michael Turner rushed for 70 yards and a touchdown for the Falcons, who were 4-12 a year ago and ended the season without a head coach or a franchise quarterback.
“To come from the beginning of this year, the negative expectations, the negative talk around our camp, it feels pretty good to be here,” Blalock said.
Adrian Peterson lost a fumble inside the Atlanta 20, another one on a botched handoff and had one more that he recovered on the final drive.
“I’m hurting right now. It’s killing me,” Peterson said. “We had a chance to win the NFC North, and we did everything to screw it up today. Including me.”
Chargers 41, Buccaneers 24
TAMPA, Fla. ó Philip Rivers, the NFL’s highest-rated passer, threw for 287 yards and four touchdowns.
Tampa (9-6) lost its first home game and has dropped three straight. It could have clinched at least a wild-card spot with a win and some outside help, but the day ended with a setback and QB Jeff Garcia’s nose bloodied.
Bills 30, Broncos 23
DENVER ó Denver blew an early 13-0 lead in the second-coldest game in Denver’s history, setting up an all-or-nothing matchup against the Chargers next week for the division title.
The Broncos (8-7) led the Chargers (7-8) by three games with three to go.
“Unfortunately we’re not going to be able to go up there and take it easy,” receiver Brandon Marshall said. “We’re going to have to go up there in their back yard and prove to them that we’re better than them. They’re a good team, they’re playing better now and they’ve got all the momentum.”
Dolphins 38, Chiefs 31
KANSAS CITY, Mo. ó In the coldest game they ever played, the Dolphins stayed hot.
Chad Pennington threw three touchdown passes in temperatures that plunged into single digits. With their eighth win in nine games, the Dolphins (10-5) can clinch the AFC East next week just one year after finishing a league-worst 1-15. All they’ll have to do is beat the Jets in the Meadowlands.
The Jets cast Miami quarterback Chad Pennington aside when they acquired Brett Favre.
“This is the only way fate would have it, right?” Pennington said. “I just don’t think it would happen any other way. There wouldn’t be any other scenario. This is how sports works.”
The temperature at kickoff was 10, with a wind chill of minus-12. Previously, the coldest game the Dolphins ever played was 14 degrees at Foxboro, Mass., on Dec. 11, 1977.
Patriots 47, Cardinals 7
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. ó Kurt Warner threw for just 30 yards, and the Cardinals’ defense was as miserable as the weather, allowing the Patriots to score on nine of their 10 possessions before Matt Cassel got the rest of the game off.
Arizona is 8-7 but 2-6 against winning teams. New England (10-5) began the day tied for the AFC East lead with Miami and the New York Jets, but Baltimore (10-5) has the tiebreaker edge over the Patriots for the conference’s one available wild-card spot.
If the Patriots win at Buffalo next Sunday, they still may become the second team to miss the postseason with an 11-5 record since the NFL adopted a 16-game schedule in 1978.
Seahawks 13, Jets 3
SEATTLE ó Seattle’s Maurice Morris sliced through the snow like a sled for a season-high 116 yards
John Carlson scored the only touchdown on a short pass from Seneca Wallace as the lowly Seahawks ended New York’s stay atop the AFC East.
New York must now beat AFC East co-leading Miami at home next week and pray. Either New England or Baltimore, also 10-5, must lose for the Jets to get in the playoffs.
The Jets were 8-3 and an apparent shoo-in for the playoffs. But New York has lost three of four while Favre has thrown just one touchdown pass and six interceptions.
“We are well aware of what opportunities that have been there for us,” he said. “That’s what’s disappointing.”
49ers 17, Rams 16
ST. LOUIS ó Isaac Bruce became the fifth player with 1,000 catches when he made a 3-yard touchdown grab with 4:12 to go, and he passed Tim Brown for second on the career yards receiving list on the go-ahead drive.
Josh Morgan got the go-ahead score on a 48-yard reception with 1:22 to go from Shaun Hill.
Bengals 14, Browns 0
CLEVELAND ó Cedric Benson rushed for a career-high 171 yards and Leon Hall returned one of his three interceptions 50 yards for a touchdown to help the Bengals get their first road win this season.
Cleveland (4-11) has lost seven of eight and hasn’t scored an offensive TD since running back Jerome Harrison’s 73-yard sprint on Nov. 17 at Buffalo ó nearly 21 quarters ago.
Raiders 27, Texans 17
OAKLAND, Calif. ó Johnnie Lee Higgins caught a 29-yard touchdown pass and then returned a punt 80 yards for another score in the third quarter.
Oakland became the first team in NFL history to drop at least 11 games for six straight seasons.