By Eric D. Williams The News Tribune
DETROIT — Considered this team’s strength, the Seattle Seahawks defense couldn’t muster a stop when they needed it against Detroit’s strong-armed quarterback Matthew Stafford.
After Seattle rookie quarterback Russell Wilson directed yet another fourth-quarter touchdown drive to put the Seahawks ahead, the much-talked about defense failed to make it stick, resulting in a 28-24 loss to the Lions at Ford Field Sunday afternoon.
The Seahawks allowed Stafford to pass for 352 yards and a season-high three touchdowns. He also ran for a 1-yard score.
The loss dropped Seattle back to the .500 mark at 4-4 on the season — including a 1-4 record away from CenturyLink Field.
Seattle also has its first, two-game losing streak of the 2012 campaign.
While Seattle’s defense has played well this season — at times looking dominant — some of the team’s struggles on that side of the ball have been masked by the Seahawks’ inability to move the ball on offense.
That wasn’t the case on Sunday. The Seahawks allowed Detroit to convert an embarrassing 12-of-16 plays on third down. Seattle’s defense was ranked No. 5 in the league heading into the Detroit game, but the Seahawks have given up over 400 yards of offense in two of the team’s last three contests.
“Every one of those guys on defense knows the game was ours to win,” Seattle head coach Pete Carroll said. “They thought they had to do what they had to do, ‘Let’s go get our stop and get out of here,’ and it didn’t happen.”
Thankfully for the Seahawks, the schedule turns in their favor as they enter the second half of the season, with five of the last eight games at home, including all three NFC West division battles.
Down 21-17 with 11:35 left to play, Wilson led the Seahawks on a 12-play, 87-yard drive for a score. Wilson found tight end Zach Miller on a corner route in the back of the end zone for a 16-yard touchdown, giving Seattle the lead, 24-21.
Wilson completed 6-of-8 passes for 75 yards on the drive.
However, Seattle’s defense couldn’t stop Detroit’s potent offense.
With 5:27 left, Stafford marched Detroit down the field 80 yards on 16 plays, capping the drive with a 1-yard touchdown throw to Titus Young on a slant route for the game-winning score with 20 seconds to play in the game.
Seattle may have expected Stafford to go to his No. 1 receiver, Calvin Johnson, but Stafford said he liked the other matchup.
“There were about four dudes standing next to Calvin Johnson, and one dude standing next to Titus,” Stafford said. “I liked my numbers over there a little better.”
Seattle failed to mount a scoring drive on the team’s final possession.
Young started in place of former Seahawk and Seattle native Nate Burleson, who’s done for the year with a broken leg. The Boise State product finished with a game-high nine catches for 100 yards and two touchdowns.
“I think the offense played great — good enough for us to win the game,” Seattle safety Earl Thomas said. “If somebody would’ve told me that the offense was going to give us 24 points, I would have taken it all day long.
“So I think this game is more on us, especially being in the back end (of the defense). We gave up some explosive plays, everybody across the board. But now we need to move onto the Vikings.”
Added Wilson: “Our defense has done a tremendous job all season of making some big-time stops when we’ve needed them. And unfortunately they didn’t today. But I know they will next time, and that’s the way we look at it.”
Wilson finished 25-of-35 for 236 passing yards and two touchdown passes. Seattle’s offensive line did a great job of protecting Wilson against one of the best defensive lines in the league in Detroit’s front four, not giving up a sack.
Wilson posted a 96.8 passer rating.
Marshawn Lynch helped Seattle jump out to a 10-7 lead on a perfectly blocked toss play, rumbling 77 yards untouched for a touchdown. Lynch topped 100 yards for the third time this year, finishing with 105 yards on 12 carries.
The Seahawks extended the lead to 17-7 with 11:39 left in the first half when Wilson connected with Sidney Rice for a 9-yard score. Rice finished with six receptions for 55 yards.
But the Lions roared right back, with Stafford finding Young behind Seattle’s secondary for a 46-yard touchdown, closing the gap to 17-14 midway through the second quarter.
The Lions took the lead on a nine-play, 56-yard drive punctuated by Stafford’s 1-yard run on a bootleg to the left side of Seattle’s defense, giving Detroit a 21-17 advantage and setting up the late-game fireworks.