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Little Momentum in Motown

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The Washington Post's Jason Reid reflects on the Redskins' 14-11 victory over Cleveland on Sunday at FedEx Field. Video by washingtonpost.com

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By Les Carpenter
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The story seems almost too juicy to be true. And yet if it is, if former Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre did indeed call the Detroit Lions unsolicited and offered more than an hour's worth of advice as to how they could stop the Packers' offense before a game last month, then it might just be the crowning indictment of how dreadful this team has been to date.

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The Lions lost to Green Bay, 48-25.

Though Favre denies the story, which has been reported by two news outlets, its very existence is yet another chapter in the dismal narrative that has been the Lions' season to date. To think they might have known what was coming and still lost by 23 points?

The 0-6 team the Washington Redskins face Sunday has been dreadful in 2008, having allowed the most yards per game and the most points per game in the NFL. Even the fans ranked the team's six-year-old stadium, Ford Field, as the second-worst in the league for fan experience according to a SI.com poll.

"It is the best incident for the opposing fan and the worst incident for me: the Lions taking the field before kickoff," one fan said in the survey.

And this a season after the Lions showed a brief glimmer of hope, lingering on the fringe of the playoffs until dropping off in December. Going into this year the thought was Detroit might be a team on the rise, then came an all-out collapse and already pieces are beginning to fall.

Matt Millen, the team's longtime general manager, was finally ousted two weeks ago, not long after Bill Ford Jr., the owner's son, told reporters he thought Millen should have been dumped long ago. Quarterback Jon Kitna, who led the Lions' rise last fall, was suddenly thrown on injured reserve last week, his season over with back spasms, despite the fact he hadn't even had an MRI exam for the problem. Kitna, who insisted he could play, confirmed on a radio show what seemed to be obvious: The team was looking for an excuse to get rid of him and play some of its younger players. Which is also why Roy Williams, the Lions' star wide receiver, was dealt to the Cowboys for first-, third- and sixth-round draft picks.

Then Detroit went out on Saturday, fell behind 21-0 to one of the NFL's worst teams -- the Houston Texans -- and lost 28-21.

Afterward Coach Rod Marinelli was asked in his news conference if he thought the 21-0 deficit was because of a lack of talent or an inability to coach.

"I will tell you this," he replied. "We had a back coming out of the slot, and we busted the coverage, and the ball broke. So it was a long run -- that first long run -- so that's not about starting fast. We had a missed tackle in the backside of the slot. We spilled the ball, we had a missed tackle there. We had a guy get cut out of the gap one time -- he's got to play that gap, he got cut, the ball broke.

"That's your answer."

Which, of course, was not the answer anyone was looking for, but then again what kind of answers can a season like this one provide? Now that Millen is gone, Marinelli -- the coach he defended to all attackers -- has been forced to face constant questions about his job security, which seems precarious.


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