|With two victories in the past three games, WR Titus Young and the Lions are back in the playoff conversation. Young caught the game-winning TD pass on Sunday in Detroit's 28-24 win over the Seahawks. (US Pressire)|
When the Lions left Chicago following a humiliating, nationally televised loss to the Bears last Monday night, they were a team that was on the precipice of playoff irrelevance after just six games.
What a difference a week makes.
On Sunday, in front of their home fans for the first time in a month, the Lions (3-4) staged another miraculous comeback en route to a 28-24 win over the Seahawks (4-4). Matthew Stafford's 1-yard touchdown pass to Titus Young with 20 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter sealed Detroit's third come-from-behind win of the season, and it completed an emotional rollercoaster ride for the Ford Field crowd.
“It was a very big game for us,” cornerback Chris Houston said. “We didn't close out a couple games that we were close [to winning] in the past, and we didn't want to have that bad taste in our mouth…we just tried to come out and put it away in the second half.”
The Lions earned the win by doing everything they hadn't been able to do in the first six games. After converting 33 percent of their third downs through six games this season. Detroit was an efficient 12 for 16 Sunday. The Lions scored two first-half touchdowns against the Seahawks after scoring just one all season. Most important, the Lions were disciplined when it counted, playing penalty-free football in the second half.
The Lions' performance wasn't perfect by any means, and Seattle had every opportunity to steal a tough road win. Seahawks QB Russell Wilson showed poise and skill in pressure situations that belied his rookie status. He completed 25 of 35 passes for 236 yards and two scores, and his touchdown pass to TE Zach Miller with 5:27 remaining looked like it might be enough to secure the victory. Despite the loss, Wilson said he was pleased with his team's effort.
“It was definitely a tough loss,” he said. “We felt we did everything we possibly could to give ourselves a good chance and we just came up short. It's disappointing.”
One matchup the Seahawks did win Sunday was the battle between CB Richard Sherman and Lions WR Calvin Johnson. Johnson made three catches for 46 yards against Sherman while battling knee issues, and he dropped a would-be touchdown on the game's final drive. Sherman, who changed his Twitter profile to “Optimus Prime” to combat Johnson's “Megatron” nickname, crowed about his effort against one of the game's elite players.
“You see [Johnson's] numbers,” he said. “They speak for themselves. He was a non-factor. That's all you can say about that.”
Johnson may have been limited Sunday, but Detroit's young WR tandem of Titus Young and rookie Ryan Broyles provided more than enough offensive balance. The pair combined for 137 yards of total offense and three scores, offering some vindication for GM Martin Mayhew's decision to draft them in the second round in consecutive seasons.
When the game turned: Sunday's game will be remembered for both teams' fourth-quarter highlights, but Detroit's comeback wouldn't have been possible without a pair of plays by safety Ricardo Silva after Stafford was intercepted on an ill-advised third-quarter pass. On the ensuing possession, Silva made a touchdown-saving tackle on Seahawks' RB Robert Turbin, and then he made his first career interception to end the drive.
Highlight moments: Seattle's first score was set up by a 41-yard pass-interference penalty on Lions' rookie cornerback Jonte Green. Green never looked for the ball on the play, making it easy for the official to spot the infraction. If Green's technique doesn't improve, he could become a target for opposing offenses. …Seahawks RB Marshawn Lynch swung momentum Seattle's way on the first play from scrimmage in the second quarter when he broke free for a 77-yard TD run. The score came just 17 seconds after Lions' receiver Ryan Broyles had given Detroit its first lead. … The game could have been vastly different for Seattle if Wilson had been able to connect with WR Sidney Rice on a deep pass in the third quarter. Rice had beaten his coverage on the play, and he could have scored a crucial touchdown to give Seattle a two-score lead.
- Lions QB Matthew Stafford -- 34 for 49 for 352 yards, three passing touchdowns, one rushing touchdown, one interception.
- Lions WR Titus Young -- nine catches on nine targets for 100 yards and two touchdowns
- Lions TE Brandon Pettigrew -- seven catches for 74 yards
- Seahawks WR Golden Tate -- seven catches on seven targets for 64 yards
- Seahawks WR Sidney Rice -- six catches for 55 yards, 1 touchdown
What they said about the Lions' go-ahead touchdown:
- Stafford -- “That was a called play. Had about four dudes standing next to Calvin, one dude standing next to Titus. I liked my numbers over there better. He ran a great route and made a great play. That's what he did all day. It was great to see.
- Lions WR Titus Young -- “[The play] was a call where we practiced like a two-point play. It's a really quick play, and I just tried to get inside and be a little more patient. I just zoned in on that last play. I was trying to be there for my teammates. Matthew [Stafford] continued to trust me like he did the whole game. I just wanted to be there for my team and for [injured teammate and team leader] Nate Burleson.
- Lions WR Calvin Johnson -- “We knew [Titus Young] had it in him. …That's what we're going to need from him for the rest of the year."
- Seahawks CB Richard Sherman -- “[Stafford] just kept checking [receiver progressions] down … shoot, they got some yards and they scored.”
Numbers you should know: Stafford's final touchdown pass to Young was his franchise-record fourth game-winning touchdown thrown with less than a minute remaining in the fourth quarter. The game-winning drive was the ninth time that Stafford has led Detroit to a victory when trailing in the fourth quarter or when in an overtime period.
Injury update: Lions S Louis Delmas left the game in the second half after suffering a left knee injury. He had surgery on the same knee earlier this season. Schwartz said Delmas' status for Week 9 will be re-evaluated after he is subjected to further testing Monday. Seahawks WR Braylon Edwards wasn't expected to be among Seattle's inactives but was ruled out of the game after waking up with a swollen knee. Carroll said the swelling “came out of nowhere."
Going forward: Lions -- Detroit's win over Seattle kept the Lions in the playoff picture, but it won't mean anything if they lose when they travel to Jacksonville to face the Jaguars in Week 9. If Detroit can finish the first half of the season at 4-4, it will give them a small margin for error entering a second-half schedule featuring six of eight games against teams that currently hold playoff spots. Seahawks -- Seattle returns to the site of one of the best home-field advantages in the NFL to host the Vikings and Jets in consecutive games before the bye. Both games are winnable for the Seahawks, so it's possible that they could enter the Week 11 bye with a respectable 6-4 record.