Stafford regains 2011 form in Lions' comeback win

Dana Gauruder, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

DETROIT -- Matthew Stafford looked like his old self and gave the Detroit Lions a desperately needed victory.
Stafford had three touchdown passes, including a one-yard game-winner to Titus Young with 20 seconds remaining, to give the Lions a 28-24 victory over the Seattle Seahawks at Ford Field on Sunday.
Stafford also ran for a score and finished with 352 yards passing while completing 34 of 49 attempts.
He tossed 41 touchdown passes last season but had just five in Detroit's first six games this season.
Stafford spoiled Seattle's bid for a road victory by engineering a 16-play, 80-yard drive after the Seahawks took the lead with 5:27 remaining He finished it off with his third-down scoring pass to Young.
"I'm just proud of our guys hanging in there," Stafford said. "We had a great tempo going, a great belief in the huddle in that fourth-quarter drive. That's just kind of what we do. Everybody in that huddle wasn't blinking at all; they were just ready to go."
Young, replacing the injured Nate Burleson, caught nine passes for 100 yards and two scores. Burleson broke his leg at Chicago Monday night, and Young moved to the outside from his usual slot position.
"There were a couple of guys saying, 'This is your opportunity to step up and make plays,'" Young said. "I just saw a lot of guys looking at me throughout the week, seeing how I was going to respond to our adversity in losing a great leader in Nate Burleson. I took it upon myself to do the best I could and be there for my team this week."
Seattle running back Marshawn Lynch, who entered the game as the league's fourth-leading rusher with 652 yards, had a career-long 77-yard touchdown run in the first half. He finished with 105 yards on 12 carries.
Rookie Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson completed 25 of 35 passes for 236 yards and two touchdowns.
Stafford scored on a one-yard bootleg, his third rushing touchdown this season, with 11:35 remaining to give the Lions (3-4) a 21-17 lead. That completed a nine-play, 56-yard drive set up by Ricardo Silva's first career interception.
"That's a run-pass option and (Brandon) Pettigrew did a great job of blocking down," Stafford said of his touchdown run. "He leaks out late, but I just saw an open corner and went for it. I also saw (safety Earl Thomas) chasing me, so I had to kick it into overdrive, and that's all I've got in the speed department. I was just hoping it was enough to get in."
Wilson then led Seattle on a 12-play, 87-yard drive, capped by a 16-yard scoring pass to tight end Zach Miller, to give his team a 24-21 lead. Wilson extended the drive by finding Golden Tate for a six-yard gain on a fourth-and-two from the Lions' 32-yard line. Miller made a one-handed grab to complete the drive.
But the Seahawks couldn't stop Stafford from reliving his big performances from last season.
"They were kind of able to do what they wanted to do," Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. "We pressured him some and when we did, we had a little success but not enough. They got the ball on the edge really well when we pressured. Stafford did a real good job of moving the ball around like he needed to."
The Seahawks (4-4) scored two touchdowns early in the second quarter to take a 17-14 halftime lead.
Seattle benefited from an illegal formation penalty against Detroit on a punt attempt for its first points. That extended the Seahawks' first possession, and they cashed in on Steven Hauschka's 23-yard field goal. The Lions responded with a nine-play, 82-yard drive that ended with Stafford's six-yard scoring pass to rookie Ryan Broyles as the first quarter expired.
Detroit's lead lasted just 17 seconds as Lynch took a pitch from Wilson, burst through a big hole on the right side and outran the defense on his 77-yard score. Seattle increased its lead to 17-7 with 11:39 left in the half on Wilson's nine-yard pass to Sidney Rice. That drive was aided by a 41-yard pass interference penalty against Lions rookie Jonte Green.
Stafford pulled the Lions within three when he connected with Young on a 46-yard scoring pass. Young beat Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman down the right sideline for his second touchdown this season.
"Titus stepped up in a big way for them," Sherman said. "Titus is one of my good friends and I talk to him daily. He got over the top a couple of times and caught the game-winner, so he did a solid job. I think they'll be looking for him a little more now."
NOTES: The longest previous run by Lynch was 67 yards during the 2010-11 playoffs against New Orleans. His previous best during the regular season was a 56-yard gain against Philadelphia on Dec. 30, 2007. ... Injuries sidelined three Lions defensive starters -- linebacker DeAndre Levy (hamstring) and defensive backs Jacob Lacey (concussion) and Amari Spievey (concussion). Backup Seahawks wide receivers Doug Baldwin (ankle) and Braylon Edwards (knee) were also inactive. ... The Lions play their next two games on the road against Jacksonville and Minnesota. The Seahawks have home games against the Vikings and New York Jets prior to their bye week.

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