The Detroit Lions football team was established in 1930 (then called the Portsmouth Spartans). In the time since then, it is no secret that they have had some terrible moments.
During that time, the Lions have won four NFL Championships which actually ranks them 9th in the league in total championships. Unfortunately, since the inception of the Super Bowl in 1967, the Lions have failed to make it to a championship game.
Here are what I think are the 10 worst moments in Detroit Lions history. What do you think Nation, do you agree? Did I miss any?
Marty elects to take the wind?
In what may go down as the worst coaching decisions in sports history, Marty Mornhinweg made the decision to take the wind rather than the ball in an overtime game against the Chicago Bears.
It all started with the Lions and Bears tied 17-17 heading into overtime. The Lions won the coin toss, but rather than taking the ball, Mornhinweg decided to take the wind instead to give kicker Jason Hanson a better chance of making a long field goal when they got the ball.
One problem, the Lions never got the ball back as the Bears marched down the field and Paul Edinger kicked a 40-yard field goal to win it.
Dempsey’s record field goal beats the Lions
On November 8th, 1970, the Detroit Lions held a 17-16 lead over the New Orleans Saints with two seconds left in the game.
With time running out for the Saints, head coach J.D. Roberts sent in kicker Tom Dempsey to attempt a record 63-yard field goal. Dempsey proceeded to make the kick, giving the Saints a 19-17 victory over the Lions.
Dempsey, who was actually not a very good field goal kicker at all in his career (61.6%), came up big against the Lions on this day.
The Bears ruin Thanksgiving for the Lions
Thanksgiving Day and Detroit Lions football go hand in hand. Lions fans across the state and beyond enjoy their turkey while watching their favorite team play football.
On this particular Thanksgiving Day in 1980, the Chicago Bears came into town and ruined the day for the Lions and their fans.
Bears quarterback Vince Evans rushed for a touchdown on the final play of regulation to send the game into overtime. In overtime, the Bears won the toss and the Lions kicked off. Dave Williams returned the kickoff 95 yards for the game-winning touchdown.
Luckily for me, I was only 3-years-old at the time, so I did not have to suffer through this! Well, who knows, my dad may have thrown a controller at the television.
Cowboys pitch the 5-0 shutout
In their 1970 playoff game against the Dallas Cowboys, the Lions defense showed up in a big way as they only gave up five points in the entire game. There was only one problem, the offense failed to score at all and the Lions lost the game 5-0.
Wait a second, didn’t the Lions have another heartbreaking loss to the Cowboys in the playoffs?
Stay tuned for that one!
Paul Edinger breaks the hearts of Lions fans
Let me take you back to Christmas Eve 2000. It also happened to be Week 17 of the 2000 NFL season and I was sitting in my car getting ready to go into Church. The Lions were playing the Chicago Bears and all they had to do is win to get into the playoffs.
The game started off perfectly as the Lions jumped out to a 10-point lead. Of course, the Bears came roaring back to tie the game at 20. This is when the Bears sent out their kicker Paul Edinger to attempt a 54-yard field goal. You can guess what happened next. Edinger nailed the field goal while putting the nail in the Lions coffin at the same time.
Lions lose to the Cowboys and the refs
This is the second Lions/Cowboys playoff game to make this list and it is still very fresh in our minds.
The Lions won 11 games in 2014 and earned the right to play against the Cowboys in the first round of the playoffs.
The first half for the Lions was almost picture perfect and it looked like they would finally win a playoff game. Unfortunately, the game is four quarters long and that fourth quarter was one they will not soon forget.
The most important play of the game came in the fourth quarter on a third-down play for the Lions offense. Matthew Stafford attempted a pass to Brandon Pettigrew who was clearly interfered with by Cowboys linebacker Anthony Hitchens and a flag was thrown. First down Lions!
Not so fast. After marking the penalty, the officials decided to pick up the flag. Fourth down Lions. Lions punt. Tony Romo drives the Cowboys down the field. Cowboys score. Game over. Season over. Kick my dog.
Sterling Sharpe is still wide open!
This debacle came the last time the Detroit Lions hosted a playoff game. The date was January 8th, 1994 and the Lions were squaring off against Brett Favre and the Green Bay Packers in a Wild Card matchup.
The Lions were coming off of a 30-20 Week 18 victory over the Packers, which clinched the NFC Central title for Detroit.
In the playoff game, the Lions actually had a 10-point lead before Brett Favre hit a wide open Sterling Sharpe for a 40-yard touchdown to give the Packers a 28-24 win. The victory was the first of many playoff wins for Favre. Of course, it had to come against the Lions.
Eddie Murray blows a golden opportunity
In a Divisional playoff game played on New Year’s Eve, 1983, the Detroit Lions traveled to California to play against Joe Montana and the San Francisco 49ers.
Lions kicker Eddie Murray was on fire in the first half, making three field goals, including one from 54-yards out. Unfortunately, the fourth quarter was not as kind to Murray and the Lions as he missed two field goals.
His last miss was from 43-yards out with 11 seconds left on the clock and the Lions trailing 24-23. The kick went wide right and the Lions missed out on going to the NFC Championship game.
The 0-16 season
The 2008 Detroit Lions will always be remembered as one of the worst teams in the history of sports. Their 0-16 record for the season will not soon be forgotten by Lions fans.
The Lions lost 10 games by 10 points or more and became an embarrassment on the national level. Believe it or not, the team was mathematically eliminated from the playoffs by Week 11 after starting 0-10.
The only good thing that came out of the 2008 season was that team president and CEO Matt Millen was fired during the Week 4 bye week.
Barry Sanders retires prematurely
Some may argue that the 0-16 season should be No. 1 on this list, but I beg to differ.
When Barry Sanders announced his retirement via fax prior to the 1999 season, Lions fans were left in shock. How does the best running back in the history of football just walk away from the game of football while he is still in his prime? Well, that’s exactly what the 31-year-old Sanders did. He explained his reason in a released statement.
“The reason I am retiring is very simple,” Sanders said in a statement “My desire to exit the game is greater than my desire to remain in it.”
When Barry retired abruptly, he was only 1,457 yards shy of the NFL record which was held by Chicago Bears great, Walter Payton.
In my opinion, Sanders retiring prematurely was the worst moment in the history of the Detroit Lions. I still wonder from time to time, what could have been if he had stayed?
We will never know.