Lions seeking turnaround against Texans
BY LARRY LAGE Associated Press
Thursday, November 22, 2012
11/22/12 at 7:00 AM
DETROIT - The Houston Texans have put themselves in a position to be the NFL's first team to seal a spot in the playoffs and to move a step closer toward earning home-field advantage in the AFC.
Houston (9-1) has won four straight and is 4-0 on the road this season, giving the Texans a great shot to be in consecutive postseasons for the first time.
"It shows the progress we've made," said tight end Owen Daniels, who has been with the franchise for seven of its 11 years of existence. "A few years ago, it took us until the end of the season to get that ninth win. We're at that ninth win already."
Houston needs to win at Detroit (4-6) on Thursday and have a handful of teams lose, or tie, to earn a postseason bid by the end of the weekend.
The Lions, meanwhile, will have to pull off a string of upsets against a slew of good teams to reach the franchise's goal of making it to consecutive postseasons for the first time since the mid-1990s.
Just when it looked like Detroit was living up to the hype generated with last year's breakout season by winning three of four games to climb back .500 earlier this month, the Lions lost two in a row. And that has made last season seem more like an aberration than the start of successful run for a floundering franchise that hit rock bottom in 2008 as the NFL's first 0-16 team.
"We're not thinking about playoffs or anything else," Lions coach Jim Schwartz said. "We're thinking about the Houston Texans and that's plenty for us to think about right now."
Detroit did enough to lose 24-20 to the Green Bay Packers last week at home, where it had plenty of opportunities to get a much-needed win. The Lions' woes were made worse by a significant injury and distraction.
Left tackle Jeff Backus couldn't finish the first half because of a hamstring injury, which seemed to be in his right leg, and his 186-game starting streak that includes every game of his career is expected to end Thursday.
Detroit drafted Riley Reiff with the 23rd pick overall this year, planning to groom him as player to eventually replace Backus. The rookie might have to take on defensive end J.J. Watt, who ranks among NFL leaders with 11 1/2 sacks and leads all defensive linemen in the league with 11 passes defended.
Houston, though, won't have to worry about No. 2 receiver Titus Young taking advantage of one-one-one coverage because the Lions announced Monday he would be inactive because of his "unacceptable" behavior during the game against the Packers.
"When you're a player, it's your job to make the team happy," Schwartz said. "It's not the team's job to make you happy."
Lions fans have not been happy when it comes to Thanksgiving Day results.
Detroit has lost a franchise-record eight straight on the holiday - by an average of three-plus touchdowns - and has only one victory in the last 12 games in its annual showcase after winning 11 of 16 games from 1989-2000.
Original Print Headline: Lions seeking turnaround
Texans at Lions
11:30 a.m. Thursday
Radio: KYAL fm97.1
Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt ranks among NFL leaders with 11 1/2 sacks this season. DAVE EINSEL / AP