The Detroit Lions played without their three best offensive weapons Sunday, but once again it was their defense and special teams that let them down.
Rashaad Penny ran for 151 yards and two touchdowns and Geno Smith threw for 320 yards and two more scores as the Seattle Seahawks handed the Lions their third loss in four games, 48-45, at Ford Field.
The Lions entered the weekend last in the NFL in scoring defense and 27th against the run, and could not stop a Seattle offense that scored 47 points in its first three games, tied for fourth fewest in the league.
The Seahawks (2-2) ended their first eight offensive possessions with a touchdown or field goal attempt, and failed to score only twice: Jason Myers missed a 39-yard field goal wide left in the third quarter on a bad snap, and at the end of the game when they took two kneel-down snaps to run out the clock.
Jared Goff completed 26 of 39 passes for 378 yards and four touchdowns for the Lions, who played without leading rusher D’Andre Swift, leading receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown and deep threat DJ Chark because of injuries.
The Lions got big days from Jamaal Williams (19 carries, 108 yards, 2 TDs) and T.J. Hockenson (eight catches, 179 yards, 2 TDs), but had no answer for a Seahawks offense that moved the ball at will both on the ground and through the air.
Smith, a journeyman with his fourth NFL team, completed 16 of his first 18 passes and had a perfect passer rating early in the third quarter.
The Seahawks led 24-15 at halftime, as fill-in Lions kicker Dominik Eberle missed extra points after two touchdowns, and extended their lead to 16 points early on the first play of the third quarter when Tariq Woolen returned a Goff interception 40 yards for a touchdown.
The Lions cut their deficit to 31-23 with 6:30 left in the third quarter before a wild turn of events spun momentum back Seattle’s way.
On third-and-16 from the 36-yard line, the Lions appeared to get a key stop when Geno Smith threw incomplete in the direction of a trio of receivers to his left – just after an official on the Lions sideline, near where the pass was thrown, blew the play dead because the play clock reset.
As fans jeered the do-over, the Lions lined up in an all-out blitz with eight men on the line of scrimmage. Smith handed the ball to Penny, who followed a pulling block from left guard Damien Lewis through a gaping hole on the right side of the line.
Penny juked Lions cornerback Amani Oruwariye at the 25 and ran untouched to the end zone for a 38-23 Seahawks lead as Lions fans booed officials and threw debris on the field.
The Lions answered on the ensuing drive. Facing a first-and-20 after a holding call on Dan Skipper, Goff threw a short crossing route to Hockenson over the middle.
Hockenson caught the ball around the 22-yard line, ran away from a diving Seahawks defender at the 25, stiff-armed linebacker Cody Barton to break another tackle at the 35, then paraded down the sideline before he was hauled down at the 4 after an 81-yard gain.
Two plays later, Goff threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to Josh Reynolds and followed with a two-point conversion to Hockenson to cut their deficit to 38-31.
The Seahawks followed with a 10-play, 68-yard field goal drive, and the Lions answered again with a 12-play, 75-yard touchdown drive to pull within three.
But Penny sealed the game for the Seahawks with a 41-yard touchdown run on third-and-5 with 2:14 to play.
Goff led the Lions on one final touchdown drive, but the Seahawks recovered the onside kick and Penny ran for a first down before Smith’s kneel-downs sent Seattle home a winner.
Penny finished with 17 carries, an average of 8.9 yards a pop, and D.K. Metcalf had seven catches for 149 yards for the Seahawks.
Reynolds finished with 81 yards receiving for the Lions, who allowed their most points since losing to Seattle in Week 17 last season, 51-29.