CLEVELAND — Only the Lions, on a day when football was supposed to inspire, could leave their fans throwing up.

Holy Retread, Sports Fans! The second “start” of the season was worse than the first.

Endless penalties, porous defense and the coup de grace, a passing game that made up for its two interceptions in the season opener.

“We can do better,” the Lions vowed.

They did. This time they threw seven.

Seven interceptions? What’s next? They start snapping the ball to the other team? And this from new quarterback Ty Detmer, who was supposed to be the answer to Charlie Batch, who was supposed to be the answer to Scott Mitchell, who was the answer to a trivia question.

Never mind that Detmer hadn’t played since last millennium, and had practiced with the Lions for only a few weeks.

Detroit’s new brain trust said he was “ready.”

He was ready, all right. If the game was shagging balls with the Cleveland defensive backs.

“Today was every quarterback’s nightmare,” Detmer sighed after Sunday’s 24-14 loss to Cleveland, in which he racked up 78 passing yards — to the Browns’ defenders. “You never want to throw multiple interceptions, let alone seven.

“I’m still waiting to wake up.”

No, Ty, stay sleeping. At least until we destroy the stat sheets.

‘A little loose with the football’

Now, in fairness to Detmer, he is better than he was in Sunday’s game.

He has to be. He wouldn’t have made his high school team with that performance. Here, for the record, from my notes, before I burn them, are Ty’s bye-byes.

The first came on a long pass meant for Germane Crowell.

The second came on a Hail Mary to end the half. It was picked off by Anthony Henry.

The third was also picked by Anthony Henry. He thinks Detmer should have his job for life.

The fourth was really bad. Detmer missed two in-the-clear receivers and opted for a double-covered David Sloan, who often drops the ball when he’s wide open.

The fifth? Um. None of us knows whom that was meant for.

The sixth — hang on, my pen was running out of ink by this point — OK, the sixth was meant for Larry Foster. We think.

It was picked off on the sideline.

The seventh was intercepted at midfield — but wait, it was called back by a flag! Finally, a break!

Oops, a few plays later, another pass stolen by Anthony Henry.

Seven up. Seven grabbed. At one point, after the fifth interception, coach Marty Mornhinweg nodded at Batch to warm up.

But then — according to Detmer — Marty actually asked him, “Do you want to keep playing?” My response would have been, “Is this is a trick question?”

Detmer said of course he wanted to keep playing, and I believe it, mostly because he knew backing the bus onto the field and driving off were out of the question.

“Do you think Ty was ready?” someone later asked Mornhinweg, who is 0-2 with a team that, quite frankly, could have been 0-2 without his help.

“Ty was prepared,” Mornhinweg said. “He was a little loose with the football today.”

No. Rappers’ pants are a little loose. Detmer was runny eggs.

“This thing is going to be good when we get it right,” Mornhinweg insisted.
“We will continue to improve on offense.”

Marty. To continue, you have to start.

Baby steps: Lions won’t look back

Now, to be fair, this wasn’t all about offense.

The Lions’ defense allowed the first 100-yard rushing game by a Cleveland Brown since Earnest Byner in 1995. The Lions allowed a touchdown catch by an offensive lineman. And on the Browns’ final score, their receiver was so alone in the end zone, security asked if he was with the band.

But the passing game was the saddest point. It is worth noting that Batch, in the opener, got benched for fewer sins than Detmer committed Sunday.

But don’t expect the Lions to switch back. Mornhinweg and Matt Millen’s lack of confidence in Batch runs deeper than seven interceptions — if that can be measured.

“We look forward, not back,” Millen said.

Still, games like Sunday’s — with Detroit’s embarrassing 15 penalties — are bad signs for a management team that was supposed to show us how silly we were to believe in people like Wayne Fontes, Bobby Ross and Chuck Schmidt.

So far, this new regime is only making people hanker for the good old days — when the Lions at least fooled us by starting strong and then collapsed.

Said Mornhinweg: “We are in the infant stages of this thing.”

I believe that. You can smell the diaper.

Contact MITCH ALBOM at 313-223-4581 or albom@freepress.com. Catch “Albom in the Afternoon” 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WJR-AM (760) and simulcast on MSNBC 3-5 p.m.

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