A Lot Has Happened Since the Detroit Lions Last Appeared in a Championship Game

Brad Gagnon@Brad_Gagnon NFL National ColumnistJuly 19, 2016

Washington Redskins wide receiver Gary Clark (84) in a 45-yard pass from Mark Rypien and scores a touchdown against Detroit Lions cornerback Sheldon White (25) during third quarter action in NFC Championship game on Sunday's Jan.13, 1992 at RFK Stadium in Washington. The Redskins defeated the Lions 41-10 and will play the Buffalo Bills in Super Bowl XXVI January 26 in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Doug Mills)
Doug Mills/Associated Press

When you've never been to the Super Bowl and you've posted a winning record just 13 times in the 50-year-old Super Bowl era, you're forced to set the bar quite low in attempts to commemorate team accomplishments. 

Thus, this year, the long-suffering Detroit Lions will hold a celebration to mark the 25th anniversary of the only time in modern NFL history the team made a championship game. 

The 1991 Lions won a team-record 12 regular-season games before winning a single playoff affair en route to a 41-10 NFC Championship Game loss to the Washington Redskins. The 38-6 divisional-round victory over the Dallas Cowboys remains the franchise's only postseason win since 1957. 

According to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press, members of that '91 squad will be honored when Detroit hosts the Los Angeles Rams on Oct. 16. That's in spite of the fact tickets for the following week's game against the Redskins state that the celebration will take place that day, because the team was forced to change the day for scheduling purposes after tickets had already been printed. 

Oh, Lions. 

The whole thing is just adorable, and it also gives us a chance to reflect on what has happened throughout the league, the country and the world since those poor Lions last experienced playoff success. 

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27: That's the total number of NFL teams that have appeared in at least one conference championship game since the Lions lost to the Redskins in 1991. The only other teams that haven't? Houston, Cleveland, Cincinnati and—somewhat ironically—Washington. 

30: That's the total number of NFL teams that have won at least one playoff game since the Lions beat the Cowboys in 1991. The only other team that hasn't? Cincinnati, which last won a playoff game in 1990. 

7: That's the total number of winning seasons the Lions have had in the 24 seasons that have passed since they made the conference title game in '91. 

.385: That's Detroit's regular-season winning percentage since losing to the 'Skins in the '91 playoffs. Only the Browns (.348) have been worse.

Worst regular-season records since 1992
TeamWinsLossesWinning %
Cleveland Browns117219.348
Detroit Lions148236.385
L.A./Oakland Raiders157227.409
L.A./St. Louis Rams157226.410
Washington Redskins162221.423

.271: That's Detroit's regular-season road winning percentage since losing on the road to the Redskins that day in 1991. That is by far the worst road record in the NFL. They've won a total of 52 road games the last 24 years, or 2.2 road games per season. 

1: That's the total number of quarterbacks who passed for 4,000 yards in '91. This past season, 12 quarterbacks hit that plateau. Meanwhile, only three quarterbacks had passer ratings above 90 in 1991, while 19 hit that mark in 2015. 

Macintosh LC II: That's the computer Apple was preparing to launch when the Lions last won in the playoffs. The Macintosh LC II looked like this.

The Internet: In 1991, it was barely a thing. According to ZDNet, 14.4 kbps modems were introduced and the first website was built that year. Oh, and laptops cost a minimum of $2,300. And Google was not yet a thing. Eventual founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin were teenagers.

Michael Jackson's "Black or White": That was the No. 1 song in the country when Detroit beat the Cowboys and lost to the Redskins in January 1992. 

Hook and The Hand That Rocks the Cradle: Those were the top films at the box office over the course of those two weeks. Meanwhile, Terminator 2: Judgment Day was the highest-grossing film of 1991. 

Justin Bieber, Kylie Jenner, Ariana Grande, Kate Upton, Miley Cyrus: These people didn't exist when the Lions beat the Cowboys to punch their ticket to the NFC title game. In Grand Prairie, Texas, 15-year-old Amanda Cornett was pregnant with Selena Gomez. 

$1.12: That was the cost of a gallon of gas at the time.

George H. W. Bush: He was the president of the United States for one more year. Bill Clinton was elected in 1992. Current president Barack Obama was 30. 

Johnny Carson: He was still host of The Tonight Show, although Jay Leno took over in May. 

Houston Texans, Jacksonville Jaguars, Carolina Panthers, Baltimore Ravens: Those teams didn't exist. The Tennessee Titans were the Houston Oilers, the Seattle Seahawks played in the AFC West and Los Angeles had two teams (the Rams and Raiders).

The NFC Central: It was a thing. It contained the Lions, Bears, Vikings, Packers and Buccaneers

22: That's the total number of players currently on the Lions roster who were not yet born when the Lions last won a playoff game and went to the conference title game. Quarterback Matthew Stafford was three years old. 


Brad Gagnon has covered the NFL for Bleacher Report since 2012.


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