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Calvin Johnson fumbles as Seattle outlasts Detroit 13-10

Think of this as a new twist on some classic Lions misery. Detroit flirted with victory but an unbelievable turnover sealed Detroit's fate.

Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

In their first game of Pinktober 2015, the Detroit Lions were still looking for their first win and faced a daunting challenge, going up to Seattle to play the Seahawks. The home crowd was curiously renamed, foregoing "12th Man" and returning the phrase to its rightful place in College Station, Texas, and turning to a new nickname as the "12s." Nicknames aside, the Lions were facing a daunting task and staring down the possibility of starting 0-4 and what would be an insurmountable hole for a season of expectations in Detroit.

First half

The first play from scrimmage by the Lions featured Ameer Abdullah hit for a loss by linebacker Bobby Wagner, who wasn't blocked on the play. This would happen a few times in the first half in regards to Bobby Wagner, who continued to create headaches for the Lions offense. Checkdown passes would fail to get meaningful yardage for the Lions, and on the second possession they turned to their old tricks, using a fullback on third-and-one yard (yes really).

But early blitzes would finally play off near the end of the first quarter. A botched snap saw Russell Wilson taken down by Josh Wilson. On the next play, Jason Jones would come off the field favoring his arm, only to return later. The series would see Seattle punt, and Detroit quickly put Ebron down the field for 19 yards to end the quarter.

That gain would go nowhere as Bobby Wagner—remember him?—created hell for Stafford yet again. But this would be reciprocated on the Seattle possession as Travis Lewis got in on sacking Russell Wilson. However, on the next play, Russell Wilson would dodge two potentially sack-creating plays from Ezekiel Ansah and Jason Jones and scampered around long enough to find Jermaine Kearse down the field to set up for the next strike: a 24-yard pass to Doug Baldwin for the Seattle touchdown and first score.

The Lions would respond with Golden Tate, who got a few catches going and moved the chains. Eric Ebron would go down shortly thereafter, leaving the game with a knee injury. A pass to Johnson went through but the Lions stalled, settling for a 41-yard field goal from Matt Prater, who avoided the grim fate of many kickers from Sunday.

Seattle would put together another drive before the end of the half. Doug Baldwin and Fred Jackson got in on the action, and Wilson hit Tyler Lockett over the middle. The seas parted for Wilson as the Lions blitzed and he rushed up the middle untouched to set up first-and-goal. But the Lions would answer and get in on stopping Seattle. Ezekiel Ansah sacked Russell Wilson then stuffed Fred Jackson. Multiple Lions sacked Wilson on third down, setting up Seattle for a 51-yard field goal from Steven Hauschka. Before the half, Travis Lewis would go out for the Lions.

Second half

To start the half, Detroit brought heavy pressure on Seattle. The good showing would fall apart on third down when Wilson scampered around, getting away from Haloti Ngata long enough to find Tyler Lockett completely open over the middle for a first down. Next play, Russell Wilson continued to confound the defense and ran and slid home for another 10 yards. After an injury to Fred Jackson, the drive would stall and Seattle would send Hauschka out to make another 50-plus yard field goal. After the play, Haloti Ngata was marked as questionable to return.

The next Lions possession had little promise, but when Detroit punted away to Seattle, Tyler Lockett let the ball bounce off his facemask. The ball careened forward for a good ten yards and the Lions got the ball back, so it was kind of like a pass if you think about it. Naturally the Lions did about nothing with the possession (a Zach Zenner first down got wiped out with a holding call) and they punted again.

Russell Wilson would continue to tame the Lions defense, slicing them up each time the defense failed to catch him. Darius Slay was the next one to go down for the Lions, pulled out of the game due to a concussion. Daryll Tapp was the one to finally find Wilson, adding to the defense's sack count (not that such seemed to matter when Wilson was gashing Detroit on the bootleg and over the middle).

One play stood out in the fourth quarter, the first. Jason Jones rushed Russell Wilson, getting away from two defenders and chased Wilson back to the 30. With Wilson dead to rights, Jones reached out and somehow missed taking down the quarterback. It would be an incomplete pass in the end, but it just stood out as a memento of Detroit's struggle to solve Wilson despite delivering multiple sacks. Truly an enigma.

Fortune shifted suddenly for Detroit and Wilson. Russell started to scramble and found himself staring down Ziggy Ansah. But as Stafford connected with Calvin Johnson finally, Riley Reiff did something magnificently stupid and jumped onto a player he had previous knocked down, erasing the play and backing the Lions up by 15. Staring down at 3rd & 23, the playcall was for...a short pass over the middle to Calvin Johnson, followed immediately with another penalty on Theo Riddick. The Lions punted again. 11 minutes remained and a ten-point gap remained.

Another flash of fortune: with Caraun Reid in after a Tyrunn Walker injury and the Lions showing blitz, James Ihedigbo knocked the ball out and Reid scooped it up and took it 27 yards for a touchdown.

With the Seahawks going three-and-out on the next possession, TJ Jones flirted with danger as he bobbled the punt into the endzone, but managed to field it to (roughly) the ten yard line. Stafford began to lean on his weapons. Golden Tate started connecting. Calvin Johnson did his thing. Ameer Abdullah woke up, and Zach Zenner contributed well.

With three minutes remaining on second-and-short, Tim Wright finally found himself the target of Matthew Stafford, bringing Detroit to the 20 with a 26-yard reception. Zach Zenner got the ball then and forced himself forward to take the game to the two-minute warning. Stafford was putting together a drive, and on third-and-one, he found Calvin Johnson, who rushed down the field towards the end zone, a miracle in sight.

Then Kam Chancellor happened.


Final score: Seattle 13-10

Detroit flirted with victory for the first time this game, despite failing to capitalize on numerous opportunities. The Russell Wilson problem was solved and yet it wasn't solved at the same time; the Lions brought pressure and sacked and got turnovers and yet Wilson seemed to burn the Lions more often than not. Johnson and Tate combined for around 90 yards through the air against one of the better secondaries in the league; the running game for Detroit remained last in the league.

Injuries painted the game in a grim shade. Tyrunn Walker (which can be expected to be particularly gruesome), Haloti Ngata, Travis Lewis and Eric Ebron all left. The punch to the gut, meanwhile, was a new twist on a familiar story.