DETROIT – The formula is in place, and it’s a winner.
The Seattle Seahawks looked impressive for the fourth time in five weeks, riding a strong running game and stingy defense to a 28-14 victory over the Detroit Lions and establishing themselves as part of the NFC playoff conversation.
The Seahawks (4-3) can officially chalk up their first two games – losses to the Denver Broncos and Chicago Bears – as a slow start by a reloading team. With a winning record and six of their final nine games at home, Seattle guaranteed it will hit the halfway point of the season next Sunday against the Chargers with at worst a .500 record.
Coach Pete Carroll, however, said he’s still feeling the sting of those first two games.
“I’m always going to regret the fact we started lousy,” Carroll said. “It’s a 14 game season for us to try to do something with after screwing up the first two.”
Russell Wilson had a stellar game, completing 14 of 17 passes for 248 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions. He had a perfect passer rating of 158.3, and pointed the finger at his offensive line.
“In terms of the passing game, it always goes down to the protection,” Wilson said. “I’ve got a lot of time. I always tell them when we’re watching film, I was cookin’ steaks back there.”
Rookie receiver David Moore had his best game yet, catching four passes for 97 yards and a touchdown, while Ed Dickson returned from injury with two catches for 54 yards and a touchdown and Tyler Lockett had two catches for 34 yards and a touchdown.
Chris Carson looked great again as well, running hard 25 times for 105 yards and a score.
The Lions got on the board first, thanks to a particularly tenacious play by quarterback Matthew Stafford. Stafford scrambled and scrambled and scrambled, finally escaping heavy pressure on a 3rd-and-10 play to find receiver Marvin Jones open in the end zone and put Detroit up 7-0 with 2:15 left in the first quarter.
That came at the end of a 13-play, 91-yard drive in which the Lions converted two third-down plays before the touchdown – both going to former Seahawks receiver Golden Tate.
The Seahawks answered almost immediately. On the next drive, Russell Wilson hit Lockett for a 24-yard touchdown to tie it at 7. It was the sixth receiving touchdown of the season for Lockett, tying his career high from 2015. (Lockett also had two return touchdowns that season.)
Seattle would strike again even more quickly, this time taking the lead for good.
Detroit fumbled the ensuing kickoff, as Tedric Thompson knocked the ball free from returner Ameer Abdullah and Barkevious Mingo fell on it on the Lions’ 35.
Three plays later, the Seahawks were in the end zone as Wilson hit Moore for a 15-yard touchdown pass. It was Moore’s fourth touchdown in four games.
The rout was on 10 minutes later. Dickson, playing for the first time with the Seahawks after returning from a quadriceps injury, caught a 12-yard pass from Wilson with 2:28 left in the first half to put Seattle up 21-7.
Carson tacked on to the lead early in the fourth quarter. Carson hit 100 yards for the day with a 7-yard touchdown run, putting the Seahawks up 28-7 with 14:23 to play in the game.
The Lions tried to make a game of it in the fourth quarter. Stafford’s second TD completion to Marvin Jones of the day put them within 28-14 with 10:40 left.
Detroit was driving again with about 7:02 left, when Jarran Reed knocked the ball out of Stafford’s hands and Frank Clark fell on it. The Seahawks were forced to punt on the ensuing possession, and the Lions then found themselves deep in Seattle territory thanks to a hotly contested pass interference call on safety Bradley McDougald that put them at the Seahawks’ 16-yard line.
But Justin Coleman picked off a Stafford pass on the Seahawks’ 1-yard line, sealing the game for good.
It was the Seahawks’ third forced turnover of the game, putting them at a +10 turnover differential this season. Carroll said afterward that the team had set a goal of getting to double digits before the halfway mark of the season.
Seattle ended things with some swagger, calling a fake punt on a 4th-and-8 on their own 3-yard line, which Michael Dickson ran for 9 yards and a first down with 2:18 left. Carroll said that while the team was in London, he told Dickson “sometimes you’re just going to have to take a look at it and go,” and that’s exactly what Dickson did.
“He saw a situation and he took advantage of it,” Carroll said. “That’s what great players do.”
A “SEA-HAWKS” chant could be heard on the FOX broadcast as the Seahawks ran down the clock after the two-minute warning.
The Seahawks return home next Sunday for a 1:05 p.m. game against the Los Angeles Chargers at CenturyLink Field.