Seattle salvages win over Detroit on controversial play in end zone
With one big punch, Kam Chancellor showed his importance to the Seattle Seahawks.
With one little touch, K.J. Wright provided another Monday night controversy in the same end zone where the infamous "Fail Mary" took place.
"Now that you look at it, we we’re fortunate," Seattle coach Pete Carroll said.
Chancellor knocked the ball free from Detroit wide receiver Calvin Johnson at the 1-yard line when it appeared the Lions were going to take the lead, and Seattle held on for a 13-10 win.
With Detroit on the verge of capping a 91-yard drive with the go-ahead touchdown with less than 2 minutes remaining, Chancellor came from the side and punched the ball from Johnson’s arm as he was being tackled by Earl Thomas. It bounded into the end zone where it was guided over the back line by K.J. Wright for a touchback and Seattle’s ball at the 20.
But Wright should have been called for an illegal bat for hitting the ball out of the end zone, NFL VP of Officiating Dean Blandino told NFL Network. The penalty would have given the ball back to Detroit at the Seattle 1.
No flags were thrown and on the ensuing possession, Russell Wilson found Jermaine Kearse for 50 yards on third down. With Detroit out of timeouts, the Seahawks (2-2) ran off the final seconds of their second straight win.
"The back judge was on the play and in his judgment he didn’t feel it was an overt act so he didn’t throw the flag," Blandino said. "In looking at the replays it looked like a bat so the enforcement would be basically we would go back to the spot of the fumble and Detroit would keep the football."
Wright said he did not know the rule and was purposely guiding the ball over the end line.
"That was definitely the thought process just to get the ball out of bounds and not try to catch it and fumble it and hit my foot and the Lions recover it," Wright said.
The non-call provided another memorable Monday night moment in Seattle. It was three years ago when replacement officials credited Golden Tate with a disputed touchdown reception on the final play in nearly the same spot as Seattle beat Green Bay.
Now it was Tate, playing for Detroit, on the opposite side of a strange play in the Emerald City. Detroit (0-4) is off to its worst start since it also started 0-4 in 2010.
"What can you do? You’re not going to cry about it that’s for sure," Detroit coach Jim Caldwell said.
It was an ugly performance by the home team, filled with offensive mistakes and two fourth-quarter fumbles by Wilson, the second returned 27 yards for a touchdown by Caraun Reid to pull Detroit to 13-10.
But in the end, Seattle’s defense came through.
Starting on their 9 with 6:23 remaining, the Lions converted a big third down on Tate’s 22-yard catch-and-run and reached the Seattle 46 with 3 minutes left on Ameer Abdullah’s 9-yard run. Matthew Stafford then zipped a pass to No. 3 tight end Tim Wright down the seam for 26 yards to the Seattle 20 with 2:30 remaining, placing it in-between Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas and Chancellor.
The Lions reached the Seattle 11 and on third-and-1, Stafford passed to an open Johnson. As he stretched for the goal line, Chancellor came across and knocked the ball free.
"I (saw) a lot of brown ball so I attacked it, punched it and made a big play at the end," Chancellor said. "When I punched it I (saw) it fly out and roll. It took forever. The ball was rolling for a long time."
Seattle has not allowed an offensive touchdown in the two games since Chancellor ended his holdout. It has forced 18 punts during that stretch.
"Give us an inch and we protected it," Thomas said. "It just feels so good. I think we just need games like this for us to come together."
Wilson was forced to be an escape artist as Seattle’s offensive line continued to struggle with protection. Wilson threw for 287 yards and rushed for another 40 yards, but was sacked six times. Wilson’s most memorable play was spinning free of two near sacks and finding Kearse for 34 yards in the second quarter, and then hitting Doug Baldwin on a 24-yard TD on the next play.
"A win is a win but at the same time we tried to give it to them," Baldwin said. "We can’t be doing that."
Notes: Seattle played without RB Marshawn Lynch (hamstring) for first time since Week 7 of 2011. … Stafford finished 24 of 35 for 203 yards, 73 of those coming on Detroit’s final drive. … Seattle has won 10 straight games on Monday night and is 14-2 in prime time under Carroll. … Detroit lost TE Eric Ebron (knee), DT Haloti Ngata (calf) and DT Tyrunn Walker (leg) to injuries. … Seattle RB Fred Jackson sprained an ankle and CB Marcus Burley broke a thumb.