Here is a drive-by-drive look at how the Seahawks beat the by a score of 32-20 on Sunday.
- The Lions opened the game by putting together an outstanding drive. The ground game was working, as was the intermediate passing game. There were third-down conversions and even one fourth-down conversion that the Lions ran so quickly that Seattle didn't get all of its players off the field in time. The drive did eventually come to a disappointing end, though, when Kevin Smith was stuffed for no gain on 3rd and 1 at the 15. Many wanted the Lions to go for it, but they decided to kick a field goal to simply get points. Well, they didn't get points either way, because Jason Hanson made a rare mistake and kicked the 34-yard field goal off the right upright.
- The mistake was quickly forgotten when Louis Delmas intercepted a Matt Hasselbeck pass on the very next play. Delmas undercut the route and appeared out of nowhere to make the interception. He returned it to the 2-yard line, giving the Lions a golden opportunity to take the lead.
- It looked like the Lions were going to find a way to screw this up. On 1st and goal, Kevin Smith was hit as soon as he got the ball and fumbled. Luckily Brandon Pettigrew was flagged for a false start, meaning the play never happened. It was probably the best false start ever, especially since Pettigrew made a catch in the back of the end zone for a touchdown on the very next play. Matthew Stafford threw a bullet over the defense and Pettigrew made the catch to give the Lions a 7-0 lead.
- Just like their last drive, the Seahawks gave the ball right back to the Lions after only one play. This time Hasselbeck completed his pass to the right team, but the fullback who made the catch had the ball stripped by Julian Peterson. Ko Simpson fell on it, and the Lions suddenly had the ball at the Seattle 29-yard line.
- Another false start backed the Lions up 5 yards, though Maurice Morris got all of it back on the next play. An incomplete pass made it 3rd and 10, and it looked like the Lions were on the verge of having to settle for a field goal. That is when Matthew Stafford made an amazing pass to the back corner of the end zone and Bryant Johnson made an even more amazing catch. Johnson brought the ball in with one hand as he was falling down to score the touchdown, putting the Lions on top 14-0.
- After a pair of rushes went for a loss of a yard, the Seahawks picked up 11 yards to make it 4th and 1 at their 38-yard line. I figured Seattle would think about going for it and then decide to punt, but Jim Mora kept the offense out on the field. Julius Jones got the handoff and was absolutely stuffed by the Lions' defense. Jones went nowhere, and the Lions got to start a drive in Seattle territory for the third consecutive time.
- The Lions converted one third down on this drive, but the Seahawks' defense made a stop the second time around, forcing the Lions to kick a field goal. Jason Hanson booted it right down the middle of the uprights from 41 yards out, making this a 17-0 game.
- The Seahawks finally got things going on their next drive, especially after center Max Unger was in the right place at the right time to recover a fumble. T.J. Houshmandzadeh made a catch on 3rd and 2 for a gain of 3 yards, but Kevin Hobbs lit him up and forced a fumble. Unger was trailing the play and quickly fell on the ball and rolled forward to make sure it was still a first down. It was, and the Seahawks just tore up the Lions' defense from that point on. Julius Jones eventually ran into the end zone from 3 yards out to give the Seahawks their first points of the day, starting what would end up being a slow but effective comeback.
Derrick Williams returned the ensuing kickoff to the 38-yard line and was tackled out of bounds, drawing a penalty. That meant that the Lions again got to start their drive in Seahawks territory, but this time the great field position didn't produce any points. It looked like the Lions were well on their way to at least a field goal after a couple completions, but on 3rd and 9 from the 33, Matthew Stafford threw a terrible pass and was intercepted.
- The Seahawks drove down the field mainly thanks to a bunch of short passes that picked the Lions' secondary apart. Detroit seemed content with giving Seattle everything underneath, and the Seahawks took full advantage by moving down the field slowly but surely. The defense did come up with a stop once the Seahawks entered the red zone, but Olindo Mare connected on a 37-yard field goal to make this a one-touchdown game.
- The Lions didn't start their next drive in Seattle territory, but it didn't take long for them to cross midfield. Kevin Smith ran the ball a couple times for gains of 7 and 8 yards, and then Aaron Brown went for 19 down the right side of the field on a pitch. That put the Lions at the Seattle 38, and once again it looked like they were on their way to at least a field goal. Just like the last drive, though, it came to an end when Stafford made a terrible throw and was intercepted.
- Seattle had 1:13 left on the clock to put something together, and just like the last couple of drives, it slowly worked its way down the field with lots of short passes. The strategy paid off, and Olindo Mare made another 37-yard field goal just before the end of the half. Matt Hasselbeck wanted a chance to go to the end zone, but Jim Mora settled for the field goal, and Seattle only trailed by 4 points at halftime.
- The Seahawks took the opening kickoff of the second half back 41 yards to the Seattle 44. It seemed like they were destined to go down the field and take the lead, but the Lions' defense stepped it up and caught a break as well. Jordon Dizon forced a fumble on second down to make it 3rd and 8, and Matt Hasselbeck had Justin Forsett open, but the pass bounced off the turf for an incompletion.
- The Lions went three and out, but Nick Harris boomed a punt 55 yards. Good coverage on the return backed Seattle up 3 more yards to the 22-yard line.
- The Seahawks picked up a third-down conversion and then executed a perfect screen on the next play. Hasselbeck faked a WR screen to the left and found Julius Jones on the right side. Jones had lots of room to run and many blockers alongside him, and he ran down the sideline for a gain of 49 yards. It looked like this was going to be an easy touchdown, but Louis Delmas hustled and barely got a piece of Jones' foot on a diving tackle attempt. Jones fell down, and the Seahawks were unable to pick up another first down. Hasselbeck wanted to go for it on 4th and 1, but Jim Mora sent the field goal unit out. Olindo Mare connected on his third kick of the game, cutting the Lions' lead down to 1 point.
- Detroit went to the dink and dunk style of passing for a couple plays and moved the chains. The drive came to a quick halt after that, though. Matthew Stafford was sacked and fumbled the ball on the next play. He recovered the ball, but the play was good for a loss of 7 yards. A delay of game penalty before the next snap made it 2nd and 22, and Stafford was clearly frustrated with somebody not being lined up correctly. After a 4-yard run on second down, Stafford threw the ball about 17 yards down the field for Casey FitzSimmons, who failed to make the catch. Even if he had caught the ball, FitzSimmons would have been a yard short of the first down, so the Lions would have had to punt either way.
- About midway through the next drive, the Seahawks faced 3rd and 3 at the Detroit 48. Matt Hasselbeck overthrew Nate Burleson, and it looked like the Lions made a stop. The referees disagreed, though, and flagged William James for defensive pass interference. James barely even touched Burleson, and the pass didn't appear to be catchable anyways, as Burleson didn't seem to know where it was. The refs thought it was interference somehow, and Seattle got 16 free yards out of the penalty. One play later, Seneca Wallace connected with T.J. Houshmandzadeh for a gain of 15 on a reverse pass, setting up a 2-yard touchdown pass from Hasselbeck to Houshmandzadeh a couple plays later. The snap was fumbled on the extra point, meaning the Seahawks led by a score of 22-17.
- Things went from bad to worse on the next drive when Matthew Stafford was intercepted again. This time he went in the direction of Calvin Johnson on 3rd and 16 and the pass was a bit off target and intercepted by David Hawthorne for his second pick of the game.
- The Seahawks put together a 13-play drive that took 5:45 off the clock and got another field goal out of it. It looked like the Seahawks were going to score a touchdown, as they had 1st and goal from the 3, but the defense made a good stand and held Seattle to a 20-yard field goal.
- Now trailing 25-17, the Lions needed to get things going. They did for one play on their next drive, as Kevin Smith ran through a big hole and gained 31 yards, taking the ball into Seattle territory. The drive stalled after that, though, and the Lions had to settle for a 50-yard Jason Hanson field goal.
- Justin Forsett returned the proceeding kickoff 46 yards to the Detroit 48, but the defense made a stop and Seattle went three and out.
- Matthew Stafford was picked off on third down yet again on this drive. He went downfield for Calvin Johnson, but the pass was intercepted by Marcus Trufant at the Seattle 40.
- The Lions' defense again made a stop, leaving the offense with 2:03 on the clock. A good punt was downed at the 5-yard line, so the offense had to go 95 yards to win the game.
- Detroit was moving the ball in small chunks in the middle of the field, which is exactly what Seattle wanted. The Lions were wasting valuable time and not moving the ball all that much. Eventually they ended up with 3rd and 10 at their 47 with around 30 seconds left. Stafford made another bad throw and was intercepted for the fifth time in this game. The pick was taken back for a touchdown, adding to the Seahawks' lead and giving them a 32-20 victory.
Without a doubt, the interceptions are what killed the Lions' chances of winning in this game. I don't know what was wrong with Matthew Stafford, but he was just making some terrible throws, most of the time on third down. I'm sure part of it was that Stafford felt like he had to make plays on third down, but some of those interceptions were just awful throws that didn't make it to the intended target. If the Lions are going to win another game this season, Stafford is going to have to stop turning the ball over. The offense still has room for improvement as a whole, but quite a few points were left on the field because of those interceptions, and other times drives didn't have a chance to even develop because of them.
On the defensive side of the ball, the big issue was that Seattle was able to move the ball at will with the underneath stuff. Like I said earlier, the Lions appeared to be content with giving Seattle the short passes, and Seattle was more than happy to take advantage of the open field. Matt Hasselbeck went 39/51 for 329 yards, and though he only had 1 touchdown, the defense spent quite a bit of time on the field. The time of possession was close to 12-3 in the Lions favor after the first quarter, but by the end of the game the Seahawks ended up with an advantage of 30:42 to 29:18.
If you take the interceptions out of yesterday's game, the Lions would have two wins right now. Plain and simple, the Lions need to take care of the ball to win. This is simply not a good enough team to win with all of these mistakes, which was evident both yesterday and against Washington earlier this season. Against the Redskins, the Lions committed zero turnovers and held on for the win. Against Seattle, the turnovers absolutely killed the Lions and led to a close loss. Just look at the difference between the first quarter and the rest of the game. The Seahawks turned the ball over twice in the first quarter and trailed 17-0. They didn't give the ball away again the rest of the game and ended up winning 25-20. Going forward, priority No. 1 for the Lions should be to take care of the ball, because that is something that has to happen for this team to win another game.