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The history of Detroit Lions vs. Seattle Seahawks

A look at the most interesting, painful, and memorable games between the Detroit Lions and Seattle Seahawks.

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Detroit Lions v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

Just two more weeks of Detroit Lions football left. This week the Lions are heading to Seattle to face a Seahawks team that might be on the verge of a rebuild. The bad news is that the Lions have had a ton of trouble with this team throughout their short history with each other. Let’s dive into that.

The first time

Let’s go all the way back to the disco era. All the way back to October 24, 1976. “If You Leave Me Now” by Chicago was blaring out of the speakers of exploding Ford Pintos and people were still reeling from seeing “The Exorcist” in theaters a couple months earlier.

The same year that the family that owns Nordstrom’s brought a football team to Seattle. The Lions were the Seahawks’ seventh opponent in franchise history. The Seahawks started the season 0-5 and had finally captured the franchise’s first win a week before their showdown with the Lions. They beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who were also an expansion team, 13-10.

Then the Lions welcomed the Seahawks to the NFL with a 41-14 drubbing. The Lions scored at will in this game and embarrassed their future quarterbacks coach Jim Zorn by forcing him to throw six interceptions. Two of those were returned for touchdowns. One of those pix sixes was by Lions legend Lem Barney.

Random stats

The Lions and the Seahawks have only played each other 15 times since 1976. The Lions played the Seahawks just twice in the 1970s and twice in the 80s. The Seahawks hold the advantage in the record here. They’re 10-5 all time against the Lions.

What’s worse is that the Lions haven’t beaten the Seahawks since 2012 and the previous win before that was in 1999. The Lions have lost six of the last seven meeting with the Seahawks. Ouch.

It gets even worse than that. The Lions have only won in Seattle twice. Their first meeting in 1976 and that win in 1999. The Lions are 2-7 in Seattle.

Worst memory

It’s obviously the tipped ball game in 2015. We’re going to dive into this game a little farther this week in our game dive, but let’s sandwich in a good memory first.

Best memory

There’s not a lot to go on here. So we’ll go with the win in 2012. The Lions were a pretty bad team that season, but at this point in the year, we weren’t fully sure of that quite yet. We knew they were bad, but not as bad as they’d turn out to be. The Lions were 2-4 going into this game and the Seahawks were 4-3. The Seahawks were also getting some hype as an up-and-coming team. That hype was realized pretty quickly too. This team win the Super Bowl the very next year. The Lions pulled one of their many last=second wins with a Matthew Stafford touchdown pass to Titus Young with 20 seconds left on the board. The Lions won 28-24.

Game dive

Alright let’s rehash this one. Usually I reserve the game dive for something a little more positive, but this is one that you can’t run away from. This game was particularly hard for multiple reasons. In 2015, the Lions were coming off one of the best seasons in franchise history with an 11-5 year. Obviously, that season was abruptly stopped short by the Cowboys playoff game. The cherry on top of that was infamous picked up flag moment. So naturally, Lions fans felt like they were at the height of getting picked on by officials at this time.

On top of that, there was an expected drop after losing Ndamukong Suh and a few other guys, but nobody expected an 0-3 start. Lions fans were starved for a win and were ready to get this thing back on track to make a playoff run. Then this very difficult to watch primetime game against the Seahawks came about.

I say difficult to watch because the Lions offense just couldn’t get anything going against the Seahawks defense in this game. The Seahawks were coming off a Super Bowl appearance, so it’s not crazy to see why the Lions were having trouble.

Still, with 8:32 seconds left, it seemed like the Lions might have a shot when Caraun Reid picked up a Russell Wilson fumble and ran it back 27 yards to the house. All of a sudden, the Lions were only down 13-10. Matthew Stafford then led one hell of a drive down the field and with 1:48 left in the game, Stafford hit Calvin Johnson with a pass and Johnson looked like he was headed for the end zone.

This was it. The Lions were going to end their losing streak with a primetime win over the reigning NFC Champions in their own building. Then Kam Chancellor broke everyone’s heart by punching the ball out of Johnson’s hands on the 1-yard line. The ball went out of the back of the end zone when K.J. Wright intentionally batted it with his hand.

Wright, of course, should have been flagged for batting the ball, and the Lions should have gotten the ball back at the 1-yard line. But the back judge did not throw the flag, and the game went down as another moment where the officials had cost the Lions a game. Of course, things got way worse against the Packers a little while later that season, but we won’t talk about that.