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Winning season a new experience for veteran Orlovsky

Josh Katzenstein
The Detroit News

Allen Park — Before this year, Dan Orlovsky's only winning experience in the NFL was with the 2009 Houston Texans, who finished 9-7.

He went 0-16 with the Lions in 2008. He went 2-14 with the Indianapolis Colts in 2011, 3-13 with the Lions in 2006 and 4-12 with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2013.

Now, though, Orlovsky is a part of a playoff-bound Lions team with a chance to win the franchise's first division title since 1993 with a win in Green Bay Sunday, which would just add to what's been a new experience for the backup quarterback.

"I've made the statement, 'I can understand why guys who play in New England and Baltimore and Pittsburgh — teams like that who are perennially good — play for a long time because it's a lot more fun,' " he said. "Coming to work is a lot more fun; the experience on a daily basis is a lot more fun. There's a lot of things to look forward to other than, man, this has been a really long five months (and) I'm looking forward to get home."

In many of Orlovsky's first nine NFL seasons, the first four of which were in Detroit, he would look ahead to the end because his teams were eliminated so early from playoff contention. After this season, he and his family will go back to Florida, but he hasn't even thought about a move he hopes to be delayed.

Orlovsky hasn't played a single snap this season as Matthew Stafford has remained healthy, but coach Jim Caldwell thought it was important to find a veteran backup off whom Stafford can bounce ideas.

"He's a great wingman," Caldwell said.

Many Lions fans snickered at Orlovsky's signing, recalling him running out of the end zone for a safety as the most symbolic moment of the 0-16 season in 2008. Orlovsky went 0-7 as a starter for the Lions that season and was 2-3 in his starts for the Colts in 2011, Caldwell's last season as head coach in Indianapolis.

But regardless of Orlovsky's individual success, Caldwell valued his experience when looking for a backup quarterback this offseason.

"You say first time he's been on a winning team, but he's a winner and oftentimes that happens in this league," Caldwell said. "The guy's got a winning attitude in every form or fashion."

For Orlovsky, the highlight of this season came last Saturday when assistant coach Matt Raich told him the Lions clinched a playoff berth with the Eagles' loss in Washington. He hopes the magical season will continue for weeks after Sunday.

"I'm just enjoying the experience, enjoying the ride and taking it in," he said. "I was telling some of the young guys today, 'Don't let the opportunity pass you by. Soak it all in and enjoy it, but capture it because you could go and play for 10 years and never sniff this again.'

"Now you hope that's not the case here, but the reality is the NFL is hard."