The Detroit Lions once again needed a little bit of fourth quarter magic to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. But for the first time this season, it wasn’t a victory that came out of a mad scramble to make up ground after sleepwalking through the first three quarters.
The Lions actually scored two touchdowns in the first half (one more than the previous six games combined). And while the team still was plagued by the mental errors that have become their trademark (five penalties and another five that were declined), they were never down by that double digit deficit that had been common in the previous six games.
Matthew Stafford even looked something like the gunslinger of last year; while he was still erratic, he was making enough throws to justify Scott Linehan’s much more aggressive passing game. With nearly a 2 to 1 pass to run ratio, this was much closer to the Lions offense that fans had been expecting at the start of the season.
But even as the offense started to show a heartbeat, the defense that had up until this point been surprisingly staunch decided it was their turn to do their best to give the game away.
After the offense had successfully taken the first-half lead for the first time since Week 1 against St. Louis, it took Marshawn Lynch and the Seattle Seahawks all of seventeen seconds to take it back courtesy of a 77-yard touchdown run.
When Stafford had rolled out for a rushing touchdown to take the lead midway through the fourth, and the Seahawks starting inside their own 15-yard line, the defense just couldn’t keep Seattle off the board, this time courtesy of a twelve play drive that included a 3rd and 10 and a 4th and 2 conversion to take the lead back 24-21 with five minutes remaining.
The fourth quarter, however, has been the Lions’ time to shine, and this Sunday was no different. With Calvin Johnson again bottled up with tight double coverage most of the game, the Lions finally saw solid, consistent production from their other receivers.
Titus Young stood out specifically. After a very rough start to the season, plagued by penalties, dropped passes, and missed opportunities, he stepped up to fill the void left by Nate Burleson, who is out for the year after a broken leg last week in Chicago. His ten catch day included what would be the game winning score; a TD catch from the 1-yard line with twenty seconds remaining.
At 3-4 on the year, the Lions still have a heartbeat, though they did not gain ground on division leading Chicago. A winnable game in Jacksonville precedes another tough divisional challenge against Minnesota, and that two game stretch could determine if the Lions can pull themselves off the mat, or if this victory was merely delaying the inevitable.
Surprising Statistic: With three touchdown passes, this Sunday’s game against Seattle was Matthew Stafford’s first game throwing more than one this season. Coming off a 2011 campaign where he averaged a little over two and a half touchdown passes a game; it’s a clear indicator of how inefficient, either by execution or design, the Lions’ passing attack has been in 2012.