While their 19-game losing streak tends to hog the spotlight, the Detroit Lions have managed to accomplish an even more remarkable feat. The team's defense has allowed 1,033 points in 34 games—the most since Lyndon Johnson was in the White House.
Despite a new defensive-minded head coach and a completely re-engineered roster, the Lions lost their first two games this season by a combined score of 72 to 40, putting its defense back in its familiar place at the bottom of the league.
All this presents an enduring mystery: In a league like the NFL that's expressly designed to help bad teams help themselves, how can a defense whose players will earn $45 million this season be so stubbornly horrible?
"It's painful to watch them go through this," says Dan Dierdorf, a CBS analyst and former Michigan player who says he would have killed to have been drafted by the Lions out of college. "I'm not sure I can name two guys on their defense."