Tuesday, January 02, 2007
Millen: 'This one hurts'
IRVING, Texas - Winning the season finale would normally result in a cheery locker room. Not for the Detroit Lions Sunday in Texas Stadium.
Detroit beat the Dallas Cowboys 39-31 Sunday to give the Lions three wins on the season. But the win cost Detroit a shot at the top pick in the 2007 NFL Draft. Had the Lions lost, they would have tied with the Oakland Raiders with a 2-14 record, but would have secured the No. 1 pick based on their strength of schedule being weaker than Oakland's.
"It feels like getting kicked in the balls," Lions president Matt Millen told sources close to The Big Picture. "We've been working hard for over five years now. We've haven't got the top pick in that time...we thought this was finally the year."
Notre Dame quarterback Brady Quinn will likely be the top player chosen in the draft. And Detroit, having started 84-year-old Jon Kitna all season, is expected to be in the market for a QB. But so are the Raiders who will likely select Quinn. Detroit could be interested in Ohio State QB Troy Smith with the second selection.
"I gave the guys a heart-felt talk [before the game]," Lions coach Rod Marinelli said. "I told the guys we could win this one for each other or 'win' it for the fans by losing. They chose each other."
It's unclear at this time if the victory will save either Millen's or Marinelli's job.
"We fucked up," Millen told sources. "Plain and simple. We blew it. I'll have to re-evaluate the coaching situation and the defensive play calling."
The Lions stopped Dallas at the goal line in the final drive of the game. A Cowboys touchdown plus two-point conversion could have led to an overtime period.
"It's just the way the season has gone," Millen said. "When we want to win, we lose. When we want to lose, we win. We can't seem to get it right."