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In the end, it’s the Lions
DETROIT – As Earl Thomas sat in front of his locker at Ford Field on Sunday, his head not only was down, the Seahawks’ Pro Bowl free safety was shaking it. Over and over.
It was understandable after what the Seahawks had just been through in their 28-24 loss, a setback that included Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford running and throwing his team back into the game twice in the final 11½ minutes.
“The offense played great. More than enough for us to win the game,” Thomas said. “If somebody would have told me the offense would give us 24 points, I would have taken that all day long.
“I think this game was more on us, especially on the backend. We gave up some explosive plays. Everybody. Across the board.”
Good points, especially about the points. The 24 put up by the offense in this one were the most by the Seahawks in a road game during the first half of the season. But the outcome was all too familiar, as the Seahawks lost for the fourth time in five road games.
And the reason in this one wasn’t a lack of point production by the offense. It was Stafford throwing, and throwing, and throwing some more against a Seahawks defense that ranked fifth in the league entering the game.
Stafford threw three touchdown passes and ran for a fourth to have a hand – and feet – in all the Lions’ points. He put the ball up 49 times, completing 34 passes for 352 yards. His scoring throws went to Ryan Broyles (6 yards) and Titus Young (46 and 1). His scoring run also came from a yard out. And he was especially proficient on third downs, as the Lions converted 75 percent on the pivotal down (12 of 16).
Connect dots between all these numbers and the picture it created was a frustrating afternoon for the Seahawks’ defense.
“We’re disappointed that after the terrific drive at the end that we couldn’t finish it off the way we wanted to,” coach Pete Carroll said. “We took it right down to the last inch and fought like crazy. They made a great play to win it right at the end.”
The Seahawks finished the first half of their season 4-4, with all four losses coming on the road. But this loss was different, because the offense did enough to keep them in the game until the bitter end.
Marshawn Lynch broke the longest run of his career, going 77 yards up the right sideline on the first play of the second quarter for a touchdown that gave the Seahawks a 10-7 lead. Lynch finished with 105 yards on 12 carries for an 8.8-yard average.
“Coach (Tom) Cable and coach (Darrell) Bevell did a great job of getting the offensive line ready for that play,” quarterback Russell Wilson said of the team’s offensive line coach and offensive coordinator. “The guys did a great job of blocking.
“Marshawn hit the hole and he was gone. Nobody could catch him.”
Speaking of Wilson, the rookie QB passed nine yards to Sidney Rice to give the Seahawks a 17-7 lead three minutes later. He also teamed with tight end Zach Miller for a 16-yard TD that put the Seahawks ahead 24-21 with 5½ minutes left in the game.
“This is definitely a tough loss,” Wilson said. “We felt like we did everything that we could possibly do to give ourselves a great chance. And we just unfortunately came up short.”
But each time the Seahawks scored a touchdown, Stafford found a way to answer. With the 46-yard TD pass to Young that cut the Seahawks’ lead to 17-14 at the half. With his 1-yard run, that gave the Lions a 21-17 lead with 11½ minutes to play. And, finally, with the 1-yard pass to Young – on third-and-goal – with 20 seconds remaining.
“We like to think we were going to find a way to stop them, but we didn’t,” Carroll said after his team had lost back-to-back games for the first time this season. “The game was ours to win it.”
But as frustrating and disappointing as this loss was, the players and coaches tried to spin things forward. And for good reason. The Seahawks play five of their eight games in the second half of the season at CenturyLink Field – where they are 3-0 – starting with back-to-back home games against the Minnesota Vikings next week and the New York Jets on Nov. 11. They also get rematches against the other three teams in the NFC West, who handed them their other three road losses in the first half of the season.
“I feel good about the second half of our season,” said Rice, who caught six passes for 55 yards. “Coming up, five of our eight games are at home. So we’ll definitely be ready for that to perform in front of the 12th Man. And hopefully we can turn it around.
“I feel like we’ve got a great opportunity to finish very strong, and we need all of the games that are coming up.”
Another plus is the continuing development of the passing game under Wilson. Sunday, he completed 25 of 35 passes for 236 yards.
“We threw the ball downfield. We took shots,” Rice said. “We’re happy about that. We’re still growing in the passing game and I have no doubt that we’re going to get better.”