This could only happen to the Lions -- and only the Lions could do this to themselves.
A bizarre clock gaffe in the third quarter of Sunday's game at Ford Field gifted the Seahawks offense another shot at third-and-16 in Detroit territory, and the Lions defense immediately surrendered a devastating 36-yard touchdown in an eventual 48-45 loss.
It looked like the Lions had gotten a stop when they forced an incompletion by Seahawks QB Geno Smith on third down. But before Seattle kicker Jason Myers could attempt a 54-yard field goal, the officials announced that they had blown the prior play dead before the snap because of an issue with the game clock, which had continued to run after Smith had been called for intentional grounding on second down. So, replay third down.
"We fixed the game clock to where the clock was when the ball hit the ground on the grounding play," head referee Clay Martin said after the game. "So essentially, that third down never happened because the side judge came and shut it down prior to the snap."
Dan Campbell looked livid as he protested to the sideline official, and he had every right to be. He said afterward that he never even heard the whistle that shut down the play. The Lions got jobbed at a critical juncture of the game, trailing 31-23 late in the third quarter.
And then Aaron Glenn's defense came back on the field and fell on its face, showing and sending an all-out blitz that allowed Rashaad Penny to take a draw right up the middle and straight to the house. Campbell said the Lions were trying to get pressure on Smith.
The touchdown put Seattle up 38-23 and all but ended Detroit's chances of a comeback -- which officially ended late in the fourth quarter when the Lions gave up another back-breaking touchdown to Penny, this one for 41 yards.
"I’m not blaming it on (the officials)," said Campbell. "They didn’t do that. We lost this game.”