Seasons in which the Lions don't make the playoffs are always bad seasons, and the last four time the Lions didn't make the playoffs were 1989, 1990, 1992, and 1996. While there's lots of criticisms of 1990, 1992, 1996 the 1989 season seemed to be spared from criticism despite the fact that the Lions had come off a GC appearance in 1988 and it was the first time in 7 years the Lions didn't qualify for the playoffs.
Perhaps one reason is because offensively, they were still a very good team. Matt Dunigan had a decent first year as a Lion in 1988 with 268 completions for 3776 years, and 1989 was even better with 331 completions for 4509 yards. Statistically in his 14 CFL seasons, that was 3rd best after 334 completions for 4682 for the Blue Bombers in 1993, and ironically his best season was in 1995 when he had 362 completions for 4911 yards, but in both cases his team couldn't advance much in the playoffs. And also ironically in his two Grey Cup seasons in 1987 and 1991, he passed for less than 2990 yards. And also ironically in 1989 the team set a then-record for 521 PF. It was a terrible defense partly caused by losing three core defensive players from the completion of the Dunigan trade that caused this bad season as the team also set a then-record of 557 PA.
Just like the 2011 team, the 1989 team started off 0-5 and started to rebound with 4 straight wins at 4-5 at the halfway point. But unlike the 2011 team they couldn't continue the momentum and miss the playoffs with a 7-11 record.
Saskatchewan 42 at BC 37:
Throughout the three seasons from 1987 to 1989 in Saskatchewan, there was still a lot of indecisiveness as to whether Kent Austin or Tom Burgess will be the started QB.
BC 38 at Hamilton 44:
This was the loss that costed Larry Donovan's job as he was fired after starting off 0-4.
Edmonton 33 at BC 13:
Things didn't change right away on Joe Galat's first game as head coach. And I think this is the first time that the Lions wore both orange jerseys and pants in a game.
BC 11 at Calgary 51:
These are not Lions clips but I'll show them since I'd say these playoff games were notable:
EDSF - Winnipeg 30 at Toronto 7:
Even though Sean Salisbury quarterbacked the Blue Bombers to the 1988 GC and led in passing yardage in the east division in 1989, he had serious problems with Cal Murphy and walked away from the team just before the start of the playoffs. His replacement was Lee Saltz who played adequately to upset Toronto and almost upset Hamilton in the EDF as well. But that wasn't enough for him to get a starting position in 1990 as he was replaced by Tom Burgess.
WDF - Saskatchewan 32 at Edmonton 21:
In my most unbiased opinion, I would say this is the biggest CFL playoff upset ever - bigger than even the 1994 WDF. At least the Lions did have a fairly good team in the regular season at 11-6-1, whereas the Roughriders did indeed have a very mediocre season at 9-9 and had it not been for the Lions bad season Saskatchewan probably wouldn't have made the playoffs. They were up against the goliath 16-2 team that appeared to be invincible led by MOP Tracy Ham. But at Commonwealth, the Roughriders captured a fair and square, convincingly win over the Eskimos.