'Bad job': Lions can't slow down Seahawks attack
Detroit — It turns out, one player, no matter how big, isn't enough to plug the Detroit Lions' leaky run defense.
Despite a promising individual effort by the Lions’ newest acquisition, defensive tackle Damon Harrison, the team struggled to slow down the Seattle Seahawks — both on the ground and through the air — in a 28-14 loss Sunday at Ford Field.
The Seahawks had 176 yards rushing and quarterback Russell Wilson posted a perfect quarterback rating in the victory.
"It was a bad job coaching, bad job playing," Lions coach Matt Patricia said. "I have to do a better job preparing us to get ready to go. We have to play better and we just have to go out and execute. I definitely think that there were some things that came up in the game that obviously hurt us and we have to work to eliminate those. But that starts with me."
The afternoon got off to a promising start for the Lions (3-4). After stopping the Seahawks (4-3) on their opening possession, quarterback Matthew Stafford led a 13-play, 91-yard scoring drive. After completing two third-down conversions to receiver Golden Tate, Stafford stepped through a collapsing pocket and delivered a strike to Marvin Jones, over the outstretched arm of safety Tedric Thompson, for a 39-yard score.
"I think he (Thompson) misjudged the ball," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. "I think he was there and just misjudged and just mistimed it just a hair. Usually he would make that play nine out of 10 times."
After that, it was pretty much all Seahawks.
Seattle responded to Detroit’s score by marching 75 yards for a tying touchdown. The ever-elusive Wilson spun away from pressure, found tight end Nick Vannett to convert a third down early in the series, and then found receiver Tyler Lockett in the corner of the end zone out of play action, beating tight coverage by Nevin Lawson from 24 yards out.
On the ensuing kickoff, Lions return man Ameer Abdullah fumbled after a big hit by Thompson. Linebacker Barkevious Mingo recovered the loose ball, giving the Seahawks a short field.
"It was definitely a good hit, he had his hat on the ball," Abdullah said. "Definitely can’t do that in that moment on that side of the field, you can’t let the ball go."
Three plays later, Wilson connected with second-year receiver David Moore for a 15-yard touchdown, giving the Seahawks the lead.
Following a Lions punt, the little-known Moore came up with another big grab, this time a 27-yarder down the left sideline that was initially ruled incomplete, but overturned by a coach’s challenge. Moore caught the ball while stumbling backward and had it jarred loose by cornerback Teez Tabor as the two hit the ground.
"Yeah, that was a big play," Carroll said. "It’s a new rule, a new interpretation. If you look at it a year ago, that would not have been a catch. But he got three steps down with the control of the football before it came out. I think it’s going to be a precise illustration of what the new interpretation was all about."
That set up Wilson’s third touchdown of the second quarter, a 12-yarder to tight end Ed Dickson, who was activated off the non-football injury list this week.
Moore, a seventh-round pick out of East Central (Oklahoma) in 2017, entered the day with seven career receptions, before hauling in four passes for 97 yards and a touchdown in Sunday’s win.
Wilson, a four-time Pro Bowler, completed 14 of 17 passes for 248 yards, the three touchdowns and no interceptions.
The Lions got the ball to start the second half but were again forced to punt.
Taking over at their own 25, the Seahawks quickly worked their way back into Lions’ territory after the defense sold out on a play-action fake on third-and-1, leaving Dickson uncovered for a 42-yard gain.
"Me and him were able to get a lot of extra work before and after practice and shows it off right there," Wilson said. "And he’s worked so hard to get back, so it was exciting to see him."
Three straight runs by running back Chris Carson gave the Seahawks a second-and-goal from the 1, but receiver Doug Baldwin failed to get both feet in bounds on second down and Harrison stuffed Carson on third.
On fourth down, Wilson found Vannett in the back of the end zone, but the score was overturned because of illegal touching because the tight end’s route took him out of bounds before the catch.
Detroit was able to work out from the shadow of its own goal line to midfield before stalling out and punting the ball back to Seattle. And once again, the Seahawks sliced through the Lions’ defense.
A pair of third-down conversions, including one on an illegal use of the hands against Tabor, set up a 45-yard pass to Moore and a 7-yard touchdown run by Carson up the gut. Carson led Seattle's rushing attack, finishing with 105 yards on 25 carries.
"We didn’t focus on nothing," defensive tackle Ricky Jean Francois said. "We couldn’t stop the run, and we let the Seattle offense control the game."
The Lions finally stopped the bleeding with a 10-play, 85-yard touchdown drive, capped by a 19-yard touchdown to Jones with 10:40 remaining.
Conservative play-calling by the Seahawks — three straight runs — gave the Lions the ball back quickly, but the comeback effort was put on hold when Stafford fumbled the ball away attempting to escape pressure defensive end Dion Jordan.
"Obviously, I got loose with it," Stafford said. "I had one hand on it, should have two. If I have two on it, probably don't fumble."
Another quick three-and-out kept Detroit’s hopes alive, and a 56-yard pass interference call committed against Jones put the ball inside the red zone with a little more than four minutes to go.
Jones was the bright spot for Detroit's offense, catching seven passes for a season-high 117 yards, to go with his team-leading fourth and fifth touchdowns.
But another mistake by Stafford, an interception by cornerback Justin Coleman, on a forced pass to the goal line squashed the possession.
"Just a bad decision," Stafford said. "Throw it away, work for the next play."
Stafford finished 27 of 40 passing for 310 yards with two touchdowns and the one pick.
Detroit’s final sliver of hope was snuffed out when Seattle rookie punter Michael Dickson took the snap at the back of his end zone, opted to keep it when he found a seam while running along the back of the end zone and boldly scrambled for nine yards for a first down.
"I was meant to run to the right and soak up some time before we took the safety," Dickson said. "It was open, I thought stuff it, try and get the first down."