Ladies and gentlemen, YOUR Detroit Lions are 2-0 to start the 2017 NFL season! There’s already talk of a Super Bowl! And MVP for Stafford!
Ok, enough with the sarcasm, in all seriousness, when you looked at the Lions’ schedule when it dropped, I’m willing to bet more than half of you had them starting 1-1 at best. So to be one of only 10 NFL teams still without a loss this season, it’s a nice accomplishment. It’s also something not unknown to this franchise. Below are the last five times the Detroit Lions started the season 2-0. Let’s see what happened to each…
The 1999 Lions were a team in turmoil. Barry Sanders, the most exciting man ever to hold a football, had retired. How and when he retired is a conversation for another piece, but the timing of his decision put the Lions in a tough spot and expectations were not the highest for the 1999 team. Yet after a 28-20 road win at Seattle, and a 23-15 home victory over Bret Fav-ruh and the Green Bay Packers, the 1999 Lions were 2-0. What followed was a series of runs; two losses, four wins, two losses, two wins, and four losses to end the year at 8-8. Which was surprisingly good enough to qualify for the playoffs. However, a 27-13 defeat against Washington in our Nation’s Capital ended that season.
The very next season the Lions began 2-0 again, this time the defense flexed its muscle in a 14-10 win in New Orleans, and a 15-10 revenge at home against Washington. These Lions, led by running back James Stewart’s 1184 yards and 10 touchdowns, were actually 5-2 through seven games before back-to-back losses to Indianapolis and Miami, where the Lions were outscored 53-26 and committed a combined seven turnovers. Head coach Bobby Ross quit and former Michigan head coach Gary Moeller took over. The Lions won their next three games before dropping three of their last four. They finished the 2000 season at 9-7. No playoffs.
The 2004 Lions were a team trying to find their footing and find some consistency. Head coach Steve Mariucci was in his second year, and third-year quarterback Joey Harrington was coming off a sophomore campaign that was… less than stellar if you wanna call 22 interceptions to only 17 touchdowns “less than stellar.” Anywho, the Lions opened the season with a 20-16 road win in Chicago and followed that up with a 28-16 victory at home over the Houston Texans. After ping-ponging wins and loses for the next four weeks, Detroit went on a five-game losing streak, followed by losing three of their final five games. Joey Harrington improved, passing for over 3,000 yards and 19 touchdowns to only 12 interceptions, rookie running back Kevin Jones rushed for over 1,100 yards, and the Lions went 6-10.
Ahhh, the year before the (im)perfect season. The 2007 Lions were in their second year under Rod Marinelli, and the year before they began the season 0-5, so to start 2-0 must have been relieving. They ran rough-shot on the Raiders 36-21 in Oakland, then outlasted the Minnesota Vikings in overtime 20-17 at home. Jon Kitna was rocking and rolling, Kevin Jones and T.J. Duckett combined for over 900 yards and 11 touchdowns on the season and the Lions were 6-2 at the midway point. What followed was a disaster only the Lions could suffer, six consecutive losses including a 42-10 beatdown at the hands of Minnesota, and the 2007 Lions finished the year at 7-9.
The last time the Detroit Lions started the season 2-0 was Matthew Stafford’s third year at the helm, his first as the full-time starter. Jim Schwartz is in his third year as well and the Lions start off with a 27-20 road win at Tampa Bay, and a 48-3 epic destruction of the Kansas City Chiefs. Stafford went nuts in that game, throwing for four touchdowns, two of which went to Calvin Johnson. And they didn’t stop there. Road wins over the Minnesota Vikings 26-23 in OT, 34-30 over the Dallas Cowboys, and a 24-13 homecoming against the Chicago Bears left Detroit at 5-0. However back-to-back one-possession losses at home to San Francisco and Atlanta popped the Lions’ champagne. They bounced back thanks to a 45-10 drubbing over the Broncos in Denver. Stafford was a thing of beauty, going 21-for-30 for 267 yards and three touchdowns. The Lions hit the halfway point at 6-2, played .500 ball the second half of the season and finished at 10-6, qualifying for the playoffs. A 45-28 road loss to future Hall-of-Famer Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints ended the 2011 Detroit Lions season.
So there you have it, folks, the last five times the Lions started 2-0 they finished anywhere from 10-6 to 6-10. Here’s hoping the 2017 Lions can best all of those records.