He’d had enough.
A season’s worth of frustration led Seattle Seahawks coach Jim Mora to make a curious decision to go for it on fourth-and-1 from his team’s own 38.
It was still early, with the Seahawks down two touchdowns to the Detroit Lions, a team that had lost 15 straight road games.
It was the way they fell behind that had Mora’s blood boiling.
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Seattle committed turnovers on its first two plays, with the Lions cashing in for touchdowns both times, so Mora made what appeared to be a desperate effort to swing the momentum.
It didn’t work. Seattle running back Julius Jones was stuffed for no gain, and the Seahawks turned the ball over on downs. Detroit wound up with a 41-yard field goal from ancient Jason Hanson.
But the gamble struck a chord with the Seattle players, who proceeded to rattled off 25 straight points to seize control of the game and slip past the lowly Lions for a 32-20 win that keeps their faint playoff hopes alive.
“That was probably not a good decision to make,” Mora said. “Matter of fact, it wasn’t a good decision to make. But it was a decision that I made because I just felt like I’d had enough, and sometimes you do that.
“Even if we would have made it, it wouldn’t have been a good decision.”
Seattle moved into a tie for second place with San Francisco at 3-5. The Seahawks now travel to Arizona (5-3) this weekend for another important NFC West showdown.
“We can do the math,” said Seattle quarterback Matt Hasselbeck. “We knew that we needed to get this one. We know the next one – again, because we’ve blown opportunities early in the season – this next one, just like this one, is very important.”
After his team struggled to run the ball early, Mora turned the game over to his veteran quarterback, and Hasselbeck handled the rest. He finished with 329 yards passing on 39-of-51 accuracy with a touchdown and interception.
Hasselbeck completed passes to nine receivers. Along the way, he passed Dave Krieg as the team’s career completions leader with 2,124.
Hasselbeck also became the first Seattle quarterback to throw for at least 300 yards since he passed for 337 yards against Chicago on Nov. 18, 2007. It was Hasselbeck’s 16th career 300-yard passing game.
With Hasselbeck and the passing game carrying the load offensively, Seattle’s defense pressured Detroit rookie quarterback Matthew Stafford into some bad decisions. The Seahawks, whose three interceptions were tied for a league-worst, picked off Stafford five times, including a 61-yard return for a touchdown by cornerback Josh Wilson to seal the win with 22 seconds to go.
Stafford finished 22 of 42 for 203 yards and two touchdowns and a 42.2 passer rating.
Stafford’s five interceptions were the most by a Lions QB since Tacoma native Jon Kitna threw five picks on Dec. 16, 2007.
Even with the rough performance, Mora was impressed with the No. 1 overall draft pick from this year’s draft.
“People will say he threw five interceptions, but he’s a talented young man,” he said. “You saw what he was doing early in the game. He’s very poised.”
It was another slow start for the Seahawks.
Detroit drove the length of the field on its first possession, but Hanson, the WSU alum who has been with the Lions since 1992, banged a 34-yard field goal attempt off the right upright.
However, the Seahawks gave it right back to Detroit, with Hasselbeck throwing his lone interception on a pass intended for T.J. Houshmandzadeh. Lions safety Louis Delmas picked it off and returned it to the 2.
After a false start by Detroit tight end Brandon Pettigrew, the rookie tight end from Oklahoma State made up for his mistake by scoring on a 7-yard touchdown to give his team a 7-0 lead.
Seattle got the ball back, and fullback Justin Griffith fumbled on the first play after a hit by former Seahawks linebacker Julian Peterson. Detroit’s Ko Simpson recovered. The Lions scored four plays later on a 29-yard pass from Stafford to Bryant Johnson.
Hanson’s field goal after Seattle’s failed fourth down run stretched the deficit to 17-0, the same gap they faced three weeks ago at home against Arizona.
Unlike the Cardinals game, the Hawks didn’t panic.
“I felt when we were down 17-0, we were still going to win the game,” Houshmandzadeh said. “That’s how I honestly felt on the sideline.”
Seattle went to work, driving 60 yards on 10 plays, with Jones finishing on a 3-yard run to cut Detroit’s lead to 17-7.
The Seahawks would get back-to-back 37-yard field goals from Olindo Mare and go into halftime down only 17-13.
And in the second half the Seahawks took control of the game, with Mare converting a 24-yard field goal to bring his team to within a single point, 17-16. Seattle finally pushed ahead 22-17 with just over three minutes to go in the third quarter on a Hasselbeck to Houshmandzadeh connection on a 2-yard out route near the pylon.
Safety Deon Grant believes his team rallying from behind will help the Seahawks against Arizona next week.
“We finally grabbed what Coach Mora has been trying to teach us since we’ve been here,” Grant said. “It’s something that we had before Coach Mora had got here that Mike (Holmgren) had already instilled in this city and this team. So we just had to get back to being us, and coming back together.”
Eric D. Williams: 253-597-8437