31-21? To the Indianapolis Colts? The 10-4 Colts with the seven-game winning streak, and just one season removed from a championship? And it was tied, 21-21, early in the fourth quarter? And Peyton Manning only threw for one touchdown pass?

What, did the Colts all have one hand tied behind their backs?

I didn’t watch this one. Correction: I saw the Colts’ opening drive — the expected hot knife-thru-butter, 78-yard affair that ate up half of the first quarter. Then I saw the Lions’ cold-butter-on-bread, three-and-out struggle, then I saw the Colts muff the ensuing punt. Then the TV got switched off and it was time to head out for a school affair with our daughter and the grandmoms. The DVR was used, but I doubt I’ll watch it. The game only got recorded because the last thing I would have wanted to happen was to come home and find out that the Lions pulled off a miraculous upset and I had no evidence to confirm it. So I’m sure the game will fall victim to the “delete” button soon.

No need to write much about the loss. It’s no. 14 on the way to the infamous Sweet Sixteen. Another game in which the Lions’ opponents sandbagged their way through much of it, only ratcheting it up when absolutely necessary. They really almost can beat the Lions with one hand tied behind their backs.

Yet it would be soooo typical if the Lions went into Green Bay at 0-15, and fouled everything up by beating the mediocre Packers, simultaneously avoiding 0-16 and snapping their 0-17 streak in Wisconsin. I don’t know what to say about it except that there would be all sorts of irony in there, among the muck of this season.

But this winless campaign sets up maybe the most interesting off-season in franchise history. Never before has owner Bill Ford Sr. had his hand forced with the coaching situation. Head coach Rod Marinelli isn’t going to be fired by Ford — he’s going to be fired by circumstances. 0-16 gets the coach fired, even in Detroit — to answer Darryl Rogers’ legendary question about what it takes to get the ziggy. So Ford will have no choice but to broom Marinelli, asking him to pack up his rock and his shovel and take his thoughts about invisibility with him. That much is certain. But what’s not so certain is who the next administration will be. I can’t wait for the hot stove league to fire up.

Meanwhile, get a good look at this bunch, because you’re not likely to see more than a handful of them ever again. I reckon that as many as 20-25 of the current Lions will be released into the private sector before next football season, joining the rest of us stiffs who are trying to earn a dollar. Maybe half of the remaining 30 or so players will wind up as backups elsewhere or on some team’s practice squad, and the other half might stick around, temporarily. Like I said before, I’d keep Calvin Johnson, Jason Hanson, and take my chances with 51 rookies, free agents, and the like.

It’s getting boring writing about the Lions. This is the time of the year where you run out of things to say about all the losing. But at least there’s the historical implications that two more losses — just two more! — will bring. That’ll liven things up a bit, at least.

Quarterback Dan Orlovsky says there are 15 plays out there that happened this year that, had they gone the Lions’ way, would have transformed them into a .500 team. I’m serious. He really said that after yesterday’s game. It’s a nice sentiment, but as was pointed out, the Lions don’t have the requisite talent or skill to have turned those 15 mysterious plays in their favor — and that’s why those plays, whatever they were, went against them. He may as well have said, “If only we had better players, we would be a .500 team.” At least he would have been spot on in his assessment. Instead, he just looks like a boob — just like his head coach.

I don’t know what Marinelli said to Colts’ coach and longtime friend Tony Dungy after the game, but I hope some of it included, “Hey — if you need a d-line coach next season, ring me.”

Don’t recent former Lions head coaches seem to land on their feet? Marty Mornhinweg with the Philadelphia Eagles, Steve Mariucci with the NFL Network. Dick Jauron with the Buffalo Bills. Hey, even Bobby Ross ended up with Army. Come to think of it, Marinelli is a military man. It’s food for thought.

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