The Lions were back in the playoffs for the first time since 2014,and hey, that wasn’t that long ago! They were also looking for their first playoff win since the Paleozoic era and the Seahawks were hoping to go back to another Super Bowl or whatever super important things they do in Seattle. Let’s see how it would pan out.
The Lions got the ball first and found themselves in third-and-seven before I could even take a sip of beer. Stafford’s pass was off Tate’s hands and the Lions punted quickly. However, Seattle would respond with another three-and-out after Ezekiel Ansah got into the backfield and nearly took Russell Wilson down before he threw the ball away. Zach Zenner would pick up the first first down of the game as he burst out for 17 yards. Eric Ebron dropped a pass on third and short on the next set of downs, and the Lions were forced to punt again.
Thomas Rawls caught a big hole to open the second Seattle drive for 14 yards. The next Seahawks’ play was wiped out by an illegal shift, but not before Tavon Wilson rang Jimmy Graham’s bell. His replacement, Luke Willson, caught the ball two plays later to set up a short third down, which Rawls would convert. The Lions would respond with back-to-back sacks on Russell Wilson; first it was a cornerback blitz from Nevin Lawson leading to DeAndre Levy with the cleanup, and on the next play, Ziggy finally got home and forced the Seahawks to punt on fourth down.
Zenner was back in the spotlight on the next drive as he received more of Stafford’s handoffs and passes, and Eric Ebron redeemed himself as he got separation from Kam Chancellor to convert a key third down. Stafford dodged a sack that should have had him dead to rights and nearly made the first down. As the second quarter began, the Lions went for it on fourth down, but could not convert when Matthew Mulligan caught a screen pass, but was stopped short of the line to gain.
The Seahawks responded with Thomas Rawls, who immediately got the ball into Lions territory with another large run. The Seahawks continued to chip away, and when faced with their own fourth-and-short, they converted easily. Now, deep in the red zone, the Lions managed to force a fourth down after Kerry Hyder chased Wilson around until he threw the ball. But the Seahawks went for it on fourth down, and somehow got the ball from Wilson into Paul Richardson’s hands, despite being completely covered. Seattle earned the first touchdown of the game.
The Lions took a quick three-and-out and the Lions struggled to contain Thomas Rawls again. The Seahawks neared the red zone as the two minute warning came, but facing fourth down again, opted for a field goal and Hauschka made it a 10-point lead for Seattle.
With about two minutes to work with, the Lions got to work and Stafford found Anquan Boldin for a quick first down. Two plays later, Stafford chucked it deep to Marvin Jones, who found it along the sidelines near Seattle’s 34-yard line. The Lions stalled out there, but Prater would convert a 51-yard field goal to put the Lions on the board.
Seattle received the ball to start the second half. Jimmy Graham returned to the game and got his first catch as the Seahawks neared half-field. But as the Seahawks neared field goal range, they found themselves in third down when Ziggy got home to Russell Wilson again. It took them out of range and forced the punt, which Seattle downed on the four-yard line.
The Lions got some space, but a drop by Marvin Jones just added to a rough night for Lions receivers, even as a hands to the face call helped to keep the drive going. On a broken play, Stafford dumped it off to Zenner, who caught it on a circus catch, found the open field and went for 23 yards. Tate caught a high pass from Stafford on the next play and the Lions forced their way into Seahawks territory. The drive would stall, but Prater made his second field goal from 53 yards out.
Rawls took the spotlight again, coming with a 32 yard run in the middle of the drive, but he would be shaken up after a hit by Tahir Whitehead; he would come back in after a play. Haloti Ngata took the second personal foul on a Lion for the night after he shoved around Germain Ifedi, setting up for a first-and-goal for the Seahawks. But the Seahawks would fail to get into the end zone as Glover Quin broke up the third down pass in the end zone to Jermaine Kearse, and Seattle was forced to settle for a field goal.
Anquan Boldin took another personal foul, and was quickly taken out of the game. But the real horror came on the next play when TJ Jones was interfered with, and the refs looked to throw a flag and... He put it back away. The call from the field was that it was “uncatchable,” but it didn’t look it at all.
He might not have caught it, but this is definitely catchable. pic.twitter.com/ZcO7JU6SNY— Chris Burke (@ChrisBurke_SI) January 8, 2017
The Lions would have to punt and things started to look more bleak.
Russell Wilson finally hit a big play through the air, a 42-yard pass to Doug Baldwin, which was his longest on the night. It flipped the field and put the Seahawks back within striking distance. Jimmy Graham would bully Josh Bynes and pull the Seahawks to first-and-goal from where they scored easily with Thomas Rawls.
The Lions were tasked with getting two scores to overcome with dwindling time. Marvin Jones caught a pass to get the Lions started, but three passes from Stafford would land harmlessly, and the Lions, for some reason or another, decided to punt. Unsurprisingly, Seattle would convert and keep burning clock with excellent catches, including one seemingly off of Doug Baldwin’s butt. Baldwin would strike again on a touchdown catch through Detroit traffic, and that pretty much iced the game away as Seattle took a 20-point lead.