Dropped passes, penalties, missed opportunities.
Detroit quarterback Matt Stafford says you can pretty much name it. Name a self-inflicted error, and the Lions committed it on Saturday night in the NFC wild card playoff game at CenturyLink Field.
Three times in the first half, third-down drops stalled Detroit drives, and penalties stifled others, as the Seahawks ended the Lions’ season with a 26-6 win.
“Any time you’re not staying on the field, it’s big,” Stafford said. “You play against a team like Seattle, you’ve got to seize your opportunities. They have a really good defense.
“We had some opportunities and didn’t come away with any yards, first downs, points, whatever it was.”
The slow bleed started early. Former Seahawks wide receiver Golden Tate, making his second trip to CenturyLink since he joined the Lions in 2014, lost a short pass from Stafford over the middle on the opening drive.
“Just can’t have it,” Tate said. “When you play playoff football, you’ve got to eliminate all mistakes, really. That’s one thing we didn’t do well tonight.”
Three-and-out and a punt.
Detroit’s next drive, the Lions approached midfield before tight end Eric Ebron dropped another pass on third-and-1.
Anquan Boldin let another Stafford pass fall to the ground two possessions later, resulting in Detroit’s fourth straight punt.
Ebron had another drop on Detroit’s final drive of the half, but the Lions eventually managed one of their two field goals.
“We killed drives,” Ebron said. “We kept trying to talk to each other, keep our sprits up, but as a receiver group, we failed at that today.”
Another Matt Prater field goal early on in the third was all the Lions managed, as Stafford finished with the worst playoff appearance of his career (18 of 32 passing, 205 yards).
He threw for more than 300 yards and at least one touchdown in his previous two appearances.
“You make plays or you don’t make plays,” Stafford said. “We didn’t make them.”
The lack of production on offense continued to visibly rattle Detroit, which drew seven penalties, and Seattle pulled away.
In contrast to Detroit’s shaky receiving game, the Seahawks set a flurry of franchise playoff records.
Seattle’s offense often looked acrobatic, with Doug Baldwin and Paul Richardson making multiple one-handed and circus-like catches that contributed to scoring drives.
“What they did better is they were able to make some plays, and extend drives, and get in position, and finally stop kicking field goals, and made a couple of touchdowns on us,” Lions coach Jim Caldwell said. “We did not answer. That was key.”
Detroit’s playoff run ended with its fourth straight loss of the season.
“We had a bunch of mistakes, we shouldn’t have it,” Stafford said. “Penalties that put us behind the chains, negative plays, opportunities missed — you name it. That’s how you score six points. You don’t take advantage of any of those opportunities.”