Detroit’s playoff futility — no wins since 1992 and nine straight losses — continues after a loss to Seahawks that saw the Lions on the short end of several controversial calls.
Detroit did not expect to be on the receiving end of any fortuitous calls, not in the NFL playoffs and not playing on the road. The bounces don’t exactly tend to break your way when you’re the Detroit Lions, who have the league’s second-longest streak of postseason futility.
The Lions have not won a road playoff game since 1957. They haven’t won a postseason game, period, since 1992.
So no one on CenturyLink Field’s away sideline was surprised when the Seahawks were on the positive side of multiple controversial calls during a 26-6 romp over the Lions in the NFC wild-card round.
Lions playoff history by the numbers
9 Consecutive playoff losses by Detroit.
1 Playoff win since Detroit won the NFL title in 1957.
6 Points scored Saturday, Detroit’s fewest in a playoff game since losing 31-7 to Washington following the 1982 season.
“We expected that, to be honest with you,” veteran Detroit wideout Anquan Boldin said. “There were some calls that left us shaking our head. … Any time you come into a place like this, you know you have to play more than just the team.”
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Most of Boldin’s teammates grumbled their agreement, but the majority was clearer-cut on an overarching point. The Lions didn’t lose because of the referees. They lost because they were outplayed in just about every facet of the game.
“That’s not why we lost the game,” Detroit coach Jim Caldwell said. “Calls are calls. You have to overcome them and we had to play better.”
Detroit finished 2 of 11 on third down, a handful of early drops prematurely ending once-promising drives.
It was penalized seven times at the expense of 68 yards. And it allowed second-year Seahawks running back Thomas Rawls to run through, over and around its defense for a franchise-playoff-record 161 yards.
“That a huge difference in the game right there,” Caldwell said. “We were just not able to get them on the ground enough times. They had a couple of big runs. … We’ve got to give credit to them. That back can run the ball.
“If you don’t get the run stopped against them, you’re going to have some problems — play-action passes and the rest of it kind of falls into line.”
The first flashpoint came midway through the second quarter, with the game scoreless and Seattle facing a fourth-and-goal at Detroit’s 2-yard line.
Seahawks wide receiver Paul Richardson was able to somehow snatch Russell Wilson’s underthrown pass with one hand despite being interfered with by Lions defender Tavon Wilson. Richardson was also, it was apparent on replay, facemasking Wilson to the point where the defensive back’s head was being turned away from the ball.
“There were covering officials there who did not rule that there was a face mask on the play,” referee Brad Allen clarified.
Added Wilson: “Whether I think it was a facemask or not doesn’t matter to me. They gave him a touchdown. … I didn’t hear nothing. I heard touchdown. That’s what I heard.”
Detroit was still within striking range early in the fourth quarter, down 13-6 and facing a second-and-17 deep with its own territory. Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford lofted a long pass toward TJ Jones streaking up the left sideline, who was tripped up by diving Seahawk DeShawn Shead while the ball was in the air.
This time, there was no flag. Officials decided that Stafford’s pass was uncatchable, making any kind of pass interference moot. The Lions punted two plays later, leading to a Seahawks touchdown that put the game out of reach for good.
What did Caldwell think of that particular no-call?
“What I think doesn’t matter,” Caldwell said. “To me, that’s excuse-making. We didn’t make plays. We didn’t make enough plays to get it done. We had an interference on them and they caught it with one hand, so that’s the only thing I’m interested in, the guys that make plays — not that make excuses.”