Lions newbies already sick of old story vs. Packers

Josh Katzenstein
The Detroit News
Calvin Johnson makes a catch during the Lions' 30-20 loss last season in Green Bay.

When the Lions drafted Eric Ebron in 2014, they added a player who was not yet alive the last time they won a road game over the Green Bay Packers.

With another loss at Lambeau Field last December, that winless streak remained intact, and none of the Lions' seven draft picks in 2015 were born the last time the team won in Wisconsin on Dec. 15, 1991.

Yet, while the rookies have gone through orientation the past two months, learning about the Lions' scheme as well as life skills, like how to act during a formal dinner, ignorance has apparently been bliss when it comes to the futile stretch against the division rival.

"Nobody mentioned it," third-round pick Alex Carter said last week at the NFL's rookie symposium. "I knew about the rivalry. I just didn't know that we haven't won there in 23 years. That's ridiculous."

Whether or not the coaches intentionally withheld that detail of the Lions' recent history is unclear, but Jim Caldwell did say in March the Lions aren't simply chasing the Packers, who have won the NFC North each of the last four years.

"It's a new year; everything changes," Caldwell said at the NFL annual meetings.

With regard to that losing streak, though, few things have changed for the Lions. Their last win over the Packers in Wisconsin was in 1991, and they won the division — the NFC Central at the time — that year. The Lions' last playoff win was in the 1991 season, too.

Since then, the Lions have lost 24 straight road games to the Packers, including a playoff loss at Lambeau Field in the 1994 season and three regular-season games at Milwaukee's Country Stadium from 1992-94. They've won the division just once since then, in 1993, but Green Bay ended the Lions' season that year, too, with a playoff win at the Silverdome.

The 20-year-old Carter, a cornerback, was surprised to hear about the devastating streak.

"What? That's going to change this year," he said.

In order to end the losing in Green Bay, Carter said the Lions will have to "ball out."

"We've just got to have that plan, have that determination," he said.

Recently, the Lions have had their plans disrupted by Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and his slew of offensive weapons. In 12 games against the Lions, both home and away, Rodgers is 10-2 with a 111 passer rating and a 22-to-5 touchdown-to-interception ratio.

Like Carter, Lions first-round pick Laken Tomlinson was unaware of the Lions' struggles in Wisconsin and thinks it's important to end those road woes.

"It's extremely important," the offensive guard said. "I feel like we all come here with a goal in mind, and honestly, that goal is going to take us on a long road. We're out there working hard every day to achieve those goals. Coach Caldwell has a plan, and we're going to do everything to execute that plan."

Part of that plan will be winning the NFC North, and Carter said he's already has a distaste for the Packers, Bears and Vikings.

"I've thought about all of them," he said. "I can't wait to get out there. I'm seeing all these guys here (at the rookie symposium), and it's like, I'm ready to go right now. It's not that I don't like them, but I don't like them."

Wisconsin woes

The Lions last beat the Packers in Wisconsin on Dec. 15, 1991. The score was 21-17 at Lambeau Field. Since then the Lions have lost 24 straight in the series in games in Wisconsin (games at Green Bay unless indicated):

1992: Packers 38, Lions 10 (Milwaukee)

1993: Packers 26, Lions 17 (Milwaukee)

1994: Packers 38, Lions 30 (Milwaukee)

1994: Packers 16, Lions 12

1995: Packers 30, Lions 21

1996: Packers 28, Lions 18

1997: Packers 20, Lions 10

1998: Packers 38, Lions 19

1999: Packers 26, Lions 17

2000: Packers 26, Lions 13

2001: Packers 28, Lions 6

2002: Packers 40, Lions 14

2003: Packers 31, Lions 6

2004: Packers 16, Lions 13

2005: Packers 16, Lions 13 (OT)

2006: Packers 17, Lions 9

2007: Packers 34, Lions 13

2008: Packers 31, Lions 21

2009: Packers 26, Lions 0

2010: Packers 28, Lions 26

2012: Packers 45, Lions 41

2012: Packers 27, Lions 20

2013: Packers 22, Lions 9

2014: Packers 30, Lions 20