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Seahawks look to change Ford Field fortunes this Sunday

Seattle Seahawks v Detroit Lions Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images

The Seattle Seahawks haven’t made too many appearances at Ford Field, home of the Detroit Lions. In fact, this weekend’s matchup will be only the third time Seattle has played Detroit at that stadium since it opened in 2002, and the fourth time overall. Those previous three trips? Well let’s just say they could’ve gone much much better.

Steelers 21 Seahawks 10 - February 5th, 2006

Super Bowl XL Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Seattle’s first trip to Ford Field wasn’t against the Lions, but the Pittsburgh Steelers for Super Bowl XL on February 5th, 2006. Mike Holmgren led the 2005 squad to a 13-3 record and their first ever conference title.

You know the story by now... Bill Leavy and his crew are loathed by Seahawks fans for what was perceived as one-sided officiating towards the Steelers, who effectively had a home game just on proximity and percentage of fans at the stadium. Darrell Jackson had a touchdown taken away due to offensive pass interference, Jerramy Stevens’ grab at the 1-yard line down 14-10 was nullified due to a Sean Locklear hold that John Madden questioned on the ABC broadcast, and Ben Roethlisberger’s rushing touchdown was upheld upon video review despite replays showing he was actually stopped at midfield.

Refs aside, the Seahawks themselves repeatedly made critical mistakes. Josh Brown missed two field goals, the defense inexplicably allowed 3rd and 28 to be converted on Pittsburgh’s opening TD, clock management was totally botched at the end of both halves, and Jerramy Stevens functioned as an extra DB for the Steelers with all of the passes he decided to break up instead of actually catch. The combination of self-inflicted wounds and shoddy officiating led to Big Ben getting a Super Bowl ring with a stat line I don’t think we’ll ever see again out of a winning QB in an NFL championship game.

Seahawks 9 Lions 6 - September 10th, 2006

Seattle Seahawks v Detroit Lions Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images

NFL schedule makers decided that the Seahawks’ opening game of the 2006 season would be at the same venue where they lost the Super Bowl. In a completely unwatchable mess of “football” against the eventual 3-13 Detroit Lions, Josh Brown made the first of his four game-winning field goals that season, and had all of Seattle’s points on the day. He could’ve had more if not for two blocked kicks.

This is as good as it’s ever gotten for Seattle at Ford Field, but it was a sign of things to come for the demise of the Holmgren-era Seahawks. Steve Hutchinson was gone, leaving Floyd Womack and Tom Ashworth as the left guards. Ashworth in particular was dismal. Matt Hasselbeck was sacked five times, while reigning MVP Shaun Alexander rushed for just 51 yards on 19 carries. It was later found out that the broken foot that sidelined him for several weeks after the Week 3 win over the New York Giants was actually suffered against the Lions. Alexander was never the same, and obviously he never came close to fulfilling his eight-year, $62 million contract that no GM in today’s NFL would entertain handing out.

There is actually footage of the game that you can watch, and wow has the NFL changed over 12 years.

Lions 28 Seahawks 24 - October 28th, 2012

Seattle Seahawks v Detroit Lions Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images

That’s right! This Sunday’s matchup is on the six-year anniversary of Seattle’s last appearance in the Motor City.

In a back-and-forth game, the Seahawks defense just could not get any critical stops against that Lions offense, and the 12-16 third-down conversion rate was pivotal in Detroit’s last gasp victory. After Russell Wilson engineered a brilliant 12-play, 87-yard drive capped off by Zach Miller’s diving one-handed touchdown catch (the first TD of his Seahawks career), Matthew Stafford responded with a devastating 16-play, 80-yard drive that left the Seahawks with only 20 seconds to respond when Titus Young caught the go-ahead touchdown from a yard out. Predictably, that wasn’t enough time, and the Seahawks took the L.

This was one of the worst performances the young Legion of Boom had throughout the season, and Richard Sherman in particular was burned on a long touchdown to Titus Young on a third down play. Calvin Johnson was largely shut down with just 3 catches for 46 yards, but Young thrives with 9 catches for 100 yards and a pair of TDs.

On the flip side, Russell Wilson went 25-35 for 236 yards, 2 touchdowns, 1 interception, but no sacks. The offense scored 17 points on its first three possessions, including Marshawn Lynch’s 77-yard burst through Detroit’s defense. What is often forgotten is that Lynch only had 28 yards on 11 carries the rest of the way, so his 105-yard day was not exactly a stellar performance.

In hindsight, this was a pretty bad loss. Detroit improved to 3-4 by beating the Seahawks, finished the year 4-12, and that led to Jim Schwartz being fired. Had the defense done its job, the Seahawks would’ve finished ahead of the San Francisco 49ers and clinched a first-round bye, thereby avoiding the dreaded FedEx Field turf that ended Chris Clemons’ season at Washington.

A small sample size yes, but more bad than good. You have a Super Bowl loss, an ugly win that previewed the closing of the Seahawks’ previous championship-contending window, and a heartbreaking loss against what proved to be one of the worst teams in the NFL.

This year’s Ford Field visit represents a major midseason game for a Seahawks team looking to snag a wild card spot and return to the playoffs. Losing to Detroit means they’ll not have the tiebreaker against either them or the Chicago Bears. If you want more recent Lions-specific history, the Seahawks haven’t given up an offensive touchdown in either of the last two meetings, although both of them were at home. Hopefully that trend continues in Detroit this Sunday, and the Seahawks can not only fend off the bad Ford Field mojo, but greatly improve their postseason chances.