The 2008 Detroit Lions season was the franchise's 79th season in the National Football League (NFL), and their 75th as the Detroit Lions. Their season is notable for being one of only five winless seasons in NFL history. The Lions entered their third season under head coach Rod Marinelli. Entering the season with high hopes thanks to their 7–9 record the year before, their best since the 2000 season, the Lions instead suffered one of the worst seasons in NFL history. Losing all sixteen games. The Lions finished 0–16, joining the expansion 1976 Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the only other team to finish a full season winless since the AFL–NFL merger, as well as the first to do it since the schedule was expanded to sixteen games in 1978. Ironically, the NHL's Detroit Red Wings had won the Stanley Cup earlier in the year and were on their way to competing for the cup again when this occurred. This season combined with the Lions' 2–14 record the next year was the worst two season record since the merger. A season earlier, the Miami Dolphins almost suffered the same fate as the 2008 Lions,started 0-13, prior to their week 15 OT victory against the Baltimore Ravens that saved them from an 0-16 record.
The Lions gave up 517 points during the season, coming within 16 of matching the 1981 Colts' record of 533 points allowed. The Lions' 32.31 points per game allowed on defense is the third worst of any NFL team since the 1960s, bettering only the 1966 Giants (35.79 PPG) and the aforementioned 1981 Colts (33.31 PPG). The Lions were mathematically eliminated from the playoffs by Week 11, when they stood 0–10. Embattled team president and CEO Matt Millen, who had served in those roles since 2001 was fired on September 24, 2008. Marinelli was fired after the season ended along with most of his staff.
To celebrate their 75th year playing as the Lions (they had been known as the Portsmouth Spartans their first four seasons), the Lions wore special throwback uniforms for two home games, a replica of the ones used in 1934, the first year as the Lions. The uniforms had blue jerseys with silver lettering, solid silver pants, blue socks, and solid silver helmets (as helmets were leather back then). This replaced their black alternate jersey used in the 2005 to 2007 seasons.
While unique when it happened, the 2008 Lions' 0–16 record was later matched by the 2017 Cleveland Browns, who went winless after going 1–15 the year before, breaking the Lions' record for the worst post-merger two season record.
|2008 Detroit Lions season|
|Head coach||Rod Marinelli|
|General manager||Matt Millen (Fired Week 4)|
Martin Mayhew (interim)
|Owner||William Clay Ford Sr.|
|Home field||Ford Field|
|Division place||4th NFC North|
|Playoff finish||Did not qualify|
|2008 Detroit Lions draft|
|1||17||Gosder Cherilus||OT||Boston College|
|3||87||Andre Fluellen||DT||Florida State|
|3||92||Cliff Avril *||DE||Purdue|
|5||136||Kenneth Moore||WR||Wake Forest|
|5||146||Jerome Felton *||FB||Furman|
|Pro Football Hall of Fame Made at least one Pro Bowl during careerMade roster|
|1||New York Giants||W 13–10||1–0||Ford Field||Recap|
|2||August 17||at Cincinnati Bengals||W 27–10||2–0||Paul Brown Stadium||Recap|
|3||Cleveland Browns||W 26–6||3–0||Ford Field||Recap|
|4||at Buffalo Bills||W 14–6||4–0||Ralph Wilson Stadium||Recap|
|1||September 7||at Atlanta Falcons||L 21–34||0–1||Georgia Dome||Recap|
|2||September 14||Green Bay Packers||L 25–48||0–2||Ford Field||Recap|
|3||September 21||at San Francisco 49ers||L 13–31||0–3||Candlestick Park||Recap|
|5||October 5||Chicago Bears||L 7–34||0–4||Ford Field||Recap|
|6||October 12||at Minnesota Vikings||L 10–12||0–5||Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome||Recap|
|7||October 19||at Houston Texans||L 21–28||0–6||Reliant Stadium||Recap|
|8||October 26||Washington Redskins||L 17–25||0–7||Ford Field||Recap|
|9||November 2||at Chicago Bears||L 23–27||0–8||Soldier Field||Recap|
|10||November 9||Jacksonville Jaguars||L 14–38||0–9||Ford Field||Recap|
|11||November 16||at Carolina Panthers||L 22–31||0–10||Bank of America Stadium||Recap|
|12||November 23||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||L 20–38||0–11||Ford Field||Recap|
|13||November 27||Tennessee Titans||L 10–47||0–12||Ford Field||Recap|
|14||December 7||Minnesota Vikings||L 16–20||0–13||Ford Field||Recap|
|15||December 14||at Indianapolis Colts||L 21–31||0–14||Lucas Oil Stadium||Recap|
|16||December 21||New Orleans Saints||L 7–42||0–15||Ford Field||Recap|
|17||December 28||at Green Bay Packers||L 21–31||0–16||Lambeau Field||Recap|
|(3) Minnesota Vikings||10||6||0||.625||4–2||8–4||379||333||W1|
|Green Bay Packers||6||10||0||.375||4–2||5–7||419||380||W1|
The Lions began their 2008 season at the Georgia Dome against the Atlanta Falcons. A pre-season poll on thespread.com said the Falcons (who finished 11–5 before losing in the Wild Card round of the playoffs), were less likely (dead last for that matter) to make the Super Bowl than the Lions. In the first quarter, Detroit trailed early as rookie QB Matt Ryan completed a 62-yard TD pass to WR Michael Jenkins, while RB Michael Turner scored twice on runs of 66 and 5 yards. In the second quarter, the Lions responded when rookie RB Kevin Smith scored on a 3-yard TD run, while QB Jon Kitna completed a 21-yard TD pass to WR Roy Williams. However, in the third quarter, Atlanta continued its dominant start when kicker Jason Elam kicked a 50-yard field goal, while RB Jerious Norwood scored on a 10-yard TD run. Detroit replied when Kitna hooked up with TE Casey FitzSimmons on a 1-yard TD pass. The Falcons sealed the win in the fourth quarter with an Elam 25-yard field goal.
Hoping to rebound from their road loss to the Falcons, the Lions played their Week 2 home opener against their NFC North foe, the Green Bay Packers. In the first quarter, Detroit trailed as Packers QB Aaron Rodgers completed a 9-yard TD pass to WR James Jones. In the second quarter, the Lions continued to trail as Rodgers completed a 2-yard TD pass to WR Donald Driver and a 29-yard TD pass to WR Jordy Nelson. Detroit closed out the first half when kicker Jason Hanson nailed a 38-yard field goal.
In the third quarter, the Lions continued to hack away at Green Bay's lead with Hanson kicking 49-yard and then 53-yard field goals. The Packers responded when kicker Mason Crosby nailed a 25-yard field goal. In the fourth quarter, Detroit clawed away at the Pack's lead when QB Jon Kitna completed a 38-yard TD pass to WR Calvin Johnson. The Lions closed in as the snap to Packers punter Derrick Frost was high, causing it to go through the back of his end zone, giving Detroit a safety. The Lions took the lead on Kitna's 47-yard TD pass to Calvin Johnson. However, Green Bay rebounded with Crosby's 39-yard field goal, RB Brandon Jackson's 19-yard TD run, CB Charles Woodson's 41-yard interception return for a touchdown, and safety Nick Collins' 42-yard interception return for a touchdown.
The Lions visited Candlestick Park in San Francisco for a Week 3 duel with the 49ers. In the first quarter, Detroit trailed early as 49ers (and former Lions) QB J.T. O'Sullivan completed a 6-yard TD pass to WR Isaac Bruce. In the second quarter, San Francisco increased its lead when RB Frank Gore scored on a 4-yard TD run. The Lions got on the board when kicker Jason Hanson hit a 44-yard field goal. The 49ers closed out the half when O'Sullivan completed a 24-yard TD pass to TE Delanie Walker.
In the third quarter, Detroit tried to rally as Hanson kicked a 51-yard field goal. In the fourth quarter, San Francisco increased its lead when CB Allen Rossum scored on a 1-yard TD run. The Lions tried to come back as QB Jon Kitna completed a 34-yard TD pass to RB Rudi Johnson, yet the 49ers pulled away when kicker Joe Nedney nailed a 25-yard field goal.
Coming off their bye week, the Lions played a Week 5 Black and Blue Division duel at home with the Chicago Bears. In the first quarter, Detroit trailed early as Bears kicker Robbie Gould got a 37-yard field goal. In the second quarter, the Lions continued to trail as QB Kyle Orton completed a 9-yard TD pass to RB Matt Forte and a 12-yard TD pass to WR/KR Devin Hester. In the third quarter, Chicago continued its domination as Forté got a 1-yard TD run, and CB Charles Tillman returned an interception 26 yards for a touchdown. Afterwards, Detroit got its only score of the game as rookie RB Kevin Smith scored on a 12-yard TD run. In the fourth quarter, the Bears sealed the win when Gould nailed a 45-yard field goal.
The Lions traveled to Minneapolis in week 6 to take on the Minnesota Vikings. In the first quarter, Detroit's misery continued as Orlovsky unintentionally ran out of the back of his endzone, giving the Vikings a safety. In the second quarter, the Lions got the lead as kicker Jason Hanson got a 40-yard field goal. In the third quarter, Detroit increased its lead as Orlovsky completed a 12-yard TD pass to WR Calvin Johnson. However, Minnesota answered when QB Gus Frerotte completed an 86-yard TD pass to WR Bernard Berrian. In the fourth quarter, the Vikings sealed the win when kicker Ryan Longwell nailed the game-winning 26-yard field goal.
Dan Orlovsky's run out of the end zone for a safety topped the list of ESPN's Not Top 10 of 2008.
On October 14, the Lions traded wide receiver Roy Williams to the Dallas Cowboys for three picks in the 2009 NFL Draft. The same day, quarterback Jon Kitna was placed on injured reserve for the remainder of the season, due to chronic back pain. Dan Orlovsky took over his place.
In week 7, the Lions flew down to Houston, Texas for an interconference duel with the Houston Texans. In the first quarter, Detroit's slow start continued as Texans QB Matt Schaub completed a 2-yard TD pass to TE Owen Daniels, along with RB Ahman Green getting a 1-yard TD run. In the second quarter, Houston increased their lead as RB Steve Slaton got a 1-yard TD run. The Lions responded when kicker Jason Hanson completed a 54-yard field goal.
In the third quarter, Detroit began to catch up as rookie RB Kevin Smith got a 26-yard TD run, yet the Texans answered with Schaub completing a 1-yard TD pass to Daniels. In the fourth quarter, the Lions tried to come back as QB Dan Orlovsky completed a 96-yard TD pass to WR Calvin Johnson, along with Hanson nailing a 54-yard field goal. However, Houston's defense prevented any comeback from happening.
The Lions went home for a Week 8 duel with the Washington Redskins. This was the first ever regular season game at Ford Field that had failed to sell out by the 72-hour deadline and was, therefore, subject to local television blackout.
In the first quarter, Detroit trailed early as Redskins kicker Shaun Suisham got a 25-yard field goal. In what would be the first time in the season the Lions scored during the first quarter, RB Rudi Johnson got an 11-yard TD run. In the second quarter, Detroit increased its lead as kicker Jason Hanson got a 43-yard field goal. Washington closed out the half with Suisham getting a 47-yard field goal.
In the third quarter, the Redskins regained the lead as Suisham made a 45-yard field goal, along with QB Jason Campbell completing a 50-yard TD pass to WR Santana Moss. In the fourth quarter, the Lions' struggles continued as Moss returned a punt 80 yards for a touchdown. Detroit tried to rally as QB Dan Orlovsky completed a 17-yard TD pass to WR Calvin Johnson. However, Washington closed out the game with Suisham nailing a 42-yard field goal.
Still trying to get their first win of the season, the Lions traveled to Soldier Field for a Week 9 NFC North rematch with the Chicago Bears. In the first quarter, Detroit trailed early as Bears kicker Robbie Gould got a 36-yard field goal, along with QB Kyle Orton getting a 5-yard TD run. In the second quarter, the Lions greatly responded with rookie RB Kevin Smith getting a 1-yard TD run (with a blocked PAT), along with QB Dan Orlovsky completing a 17-yard TD pass to WR Calvin Johnson and a 14-yard TD pass to WR Shaun McDonald. Chicago would respond with Gould getting a 41-yard field goal, yet Detroit answered with kicker Jason Hanson getting a 52-yard field goal.
In the third quarter, the Bears began to rally as QB Rex Grossman (who took over for Orton after he left the game in the second quarter with a right foot sprain) completed a 6-yard TD pass to WR Rashied Davis. In the fourth quarter, Chicago completed their rally as Grossman got a 1-yard TD run. The Lions tried to rally, but the Bears' defense prevented any possible comeback from happening.
In week 10 the Lions went home, donned their throwback uniforms, and played an interconference game against the Jacksonville Jaguars. In the first quarter, Detroit trailed early as Jaguars kicker Josh Scobee got a 34-yard field goal. The Lions would respond as QB Drew Stanton made his NFL debut and completed a 1-yard TD pass to TE John Owens on his first NFL pass. In the second quarter, Jacksonville took a huge lead as RB Maurice Jones-Drew got a 6-yard, a 1-yard, and an 8-yard TD run.
In the third quarter, Detroit's misery continued as Jaguars QB David Garrard completed a 7-yard TD pass to WR Jerry Porter. In the fourth quarter, Jacksonville pulled away as Garrard completed a 10-yard TD pass to WR Troy Williamson. The Lions would end the game when rookie RB Kevin Smith scored on a 1-yard TD run.
The still winless Lions next went to Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina for a Week 11 duel with the Carolina Panthers. In the first quarter, Detroit struck first as QB Daunte Culpepper completed a 29-yard TD pass to WR Calvin Johnson. In the second quarter, the Lions increased their lead when kicker Jason Hanson got a 40-yard field goal. The Panthers responded when QB Jake Delhomme completed a 15-yard TD pass to TE Jeff King. Detroit answered when Hanson completed a 56-yard field goal, yet Carolina took the lead as RB DeAngelo Williams scored a long 56-yard TD run. Later, Carolina RB Jonathan Stewart scored on a 22-yard TD run. The Lions closed out the half as Hanson completed a 27-yard field goal.
In the third quarter, the Panthers increased their lead when kicker John Kasay nailed a 29-yard field goal. In the fourth quarter, Detroit tried to come back as Culpepper got a 1-yard TD run (with a failed 2-point conversion due to a missed facemask call against Carolina), but Carolina pulled away as Williams scored on a 4-yard TD run. Losing this game eliminated the Lions from playoff contention.
The Lions went home for a Week 12 duel with another NFC South team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In the first quarter, Detroit struck first as QB Daunte Culpepper completed a 15-yard TD pass to WR Calvin Johnson. The Lions continued their early success as safety Daniel Bullocks returned a fumble 44 yards for a touchdown, while kicker Jason Hanson got a 38-yard field goal.
Although the 17–0 early advantage was the largest lead the Lions would obtain all year, it didn't even last until halftime. In the second quarter, the Buccaneers' RB Warrick Dunn got a 13-yard TD run, while QB Jeff Garcia completed a 36-yard TD pass to WR Ike Hilliard and a 24-yard TD pass to TE Jerramy Stevens.
In the third quarter, Tampa Bay added onto their lead as RB Clifton Smith returned a punt 70 yards for a touchdown, along with CB Ronde Barber returning an interception 65 yards for a touchdown. Detroit scored when Hanson got a 40-yard field goal. In the fourth quarter, only the Buccaneers scored when kicker Matt Bryant nailed a 48-yard field goal.
Later that week, the Lions stayed at home, donned their throwback uniforms again, and played their 69th annual Thanksgiving Day game against the then 10–1 Tennessee Titans. It was the Lions' only nationally televised game of the regular season and the only one amongst the final six home games that wasn't blacked out, although the Lions needed a 24-hour extension to sell out Ford Field. In the first quarter, Detroit trailed early as Titans RB Chris Johnson ran for a 6-yard TD. The Lions responded with Jason Hanson kicking a 53-yard field goal. Tennessee answered with Johnson running 58-yards for a score, along with DE Dave Ball returning an interception 15 yards for a TD. In the second quarter, Detroit's misery continued as RB LenDale White scored on runs of 6 yards and 2 yards. Detroit ended the half with QB Daunte Culpepper completing a 2-yard TD pass to TE Michael Gaines. In the third quarter, the Titans pulled away as kicker Rob Bironas kicked field goals of 49 and 41 yards. In the fourth quarter, Tennessee scored two more times when Bironas nailed 45 and 43-yard field goals.
Singer Jesse McCartney performed during halftime.
The 47 points were most points that Detroit had ever given up on Thanksgiving Day as they fell to 0–12. It also became the second successive NFL season to see a team start out 0–12 after the Miami Dolphins in 2007.
Next, the Lions stayed at home for a Week 14 NFC North rematch with newly signed veteran quarterback Daunte Culpepper's former team, the Minnesota Vikings. In the first quarter, Detroit was on the board first as kicker Jason Hanson got a 25-yard field goal. In the second quarter, the Lions increased their lead as Hanson got a 23-yard field goal. The Vikings would close out the half as kicker Ryan Longwell got a 35-yard field goal.
In the third quarter, Minnesota took the lead as RB Chester Taylor got a 17-yard TD run. Detroit would respond with former Vikings QB Daunte Culpepper completing a 70-yard TD pass to WR Calvin Johnson. However, Minnesota got the lead again as QB Tarvaris Jackson completed an 11-yard TD pass to TE Visanthe Shiancoe. In the fourth quarter, the Lions tried to rally as Hanson made a 39-yard field goal. However, the Vikings pulled away as Longwell nailed a 50-yard field goal.
In the last interconference duel of the season, the Lions traveled to Indianapolis, Indiana to take on the Indianapolis Colts. The Colts struck first when Dominic Rhodes ran in a TD from 1 yard midway through the first quarter. The Lions responded a few minutes later with a 51-yard field goal by Jason Hanson. With just under 6 minutes left in the half, Chad Simpson of the Colts scored a TD from 2 yards. Calvin Johnson of the Lions responded a few minutes later by catching a 33-yard TD pass. The Colts struck back with just under a minute in the half, when Dallas Clark caught a 3-yard TD pass.
The only points for either team in the 3rd quarter was a Jason Hanson 30-yard field goal. In the fourth quarter, Kevin Smith ran in a TD from 1 yard out. The Lions decided to go for the 2-point conversion to tie the score and were successful when Casey Fitzsimmons caught a pass for the conversion. The Colts responded with another Dominic Rhodes 1-yard TD run and put the game out of reach with a 31-yard Adam Vinatieri field goal.
With the loss to the Colts, the Lions became the third team (after the 1976 Buccaneers and the 1980 Saints) to lose the first 14 games of the regular season. They were the last team to started 0-14 until the 2016 Browns did it in 2016.
With their 11th straight road loss, the Lions fell to 0–14 and 0–4 against AFC Opponents.
For their last home game of the season, the Lions took on the New Orleans Saints. Detroit trailed early in the first quarter as Saints wide receiver Robert Meachem scored on a 20-yard touchdown run and running back Deuce McAllister scored on a 2-yard touchdown run. The Lions responded in the second quarter with rookie running back Kevin Smith's 1-yard touchdown run. New Orleans answered with running back Mike Bell's 1-yard touchdown run, and running back Pierre Thomas's 2-yard touchdown run. The Saints then closed out the game's scoring in the third quarter with quarterback Drew Brees completing 6-yard and 3-yard touchdown passes to wide receiver Marques Colston.
With the loss, the Lions became the first team in NFL history to have a record of 0–15. They also became the first team to lose fifteen straight in a single season since the 2001 Carolina Panthers, who won their first game, then lost the remaining 15 to finish 1–15. The 2008 Lions were the last team until the 2017 Browns to start 0–15.
For their last chance to avoid becoming the first 0–16 team in NFL history, the Lions traveled to Green Bay, Wisconsin to take on division rivals the Green Bay Packers, whom Detroit had not beaten on the road since 1991. The Packers struck first midway through the first quarter when Deshawn Wynn ran in a career long 73 yard TD. They made it 14–0 when Jermichael Finley caught a 3-yard TD pass near the end of the first quarter. The Lions got on the board in the second quarter when Calvin Johnson caught a 9-yard TD pass. At the end of the half, Will Blackmon called a fair catch as time expired, allowing Mason Crosby to attempt a rare 69-yard field goal. Crosby kicked it accurately but it fell just a yard short with the wind blowing against him. Before the game, Crosby also attempted a 64-yard field goal. Calvin Johnson scored another TD to tie it up in the 3rd quarter when he caught a 14-yard pass. The Packers responded just after the start of the 4th quarter with a 36-yard Mason Crosby field goal, and later with a John Kuhn 5-yard TD catch. The Lions responded less than a minute later with a Kevin Smith 9-yard TD run. The Packers sealed the Lions' fate though with a 71-yard TD pass caught by Donald Driver.
With the loss, the Lions became only the second NFL team of the post-merger era to go winless without a tie in the regular season, and the first to go 0–16. (The 1976 Tampa Bay Buccaneers also went winless, but that was when the regular season only had fourteen games.) The Lions ended 2008 having lost 23 of their last 24 regular-season games, going back to the previous season, and a total of seventeen consecutive regular season losses (the NFL record is 26 by the Buccaneers, who lost the next twelve games after their winless season).
After allowing 31 points to the Packers, it brought their season total points allowed to 517. This is the second highest point total allowed in a single season in NFL history, trailing only the 533 allowed by the 1981 Baltimore Colts.
Of note, three of the players who were on this winless season roster went on to participate in Super Bowl XLVIII: Manny Ramirez and Paris Lenon for the Denver Broncos and Cliff Avril for the eventual champion Seattle Seahawks.
Clock ticks down here in Green Bay. The Lions find themselves in a very familiar position. For 16 weeks, starting in Atlanta back in September, they took the field thinking this was gonna be their day. Sixteen times they were wrong, and now there are no Sundays left. By record, they are the worst team in league history. Zero and sixteen, those are the numbers that will forever be associated with the Detroit Lions.
On the NFL Network's 'Top 10 Worst Teams of All Time', the 2008 Lions were placed at #1, with the 0–14 1976 Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the starting-out-0-and-12 1977 Buccaneers ranking as the second-worst team(s) ever.
|Detroit Lions 2008 staff|
Special Teams Coaches
Strength and Conditioning
|2008 Detroit Lions final roster|
Unsigned Draft Picks