Kam Chancellor saw the ball exposed and threw a punch.
By knocking the ball free from Calvin Johnson, Chancellor may have created a wild swing in where the Seattle Seahawks will finish this season and provided another bit of officiating controversy on a Monday night in Seattle.
“It’s good to have Kam back. To have him make that play was pretty cool,” Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson said.
Chancellor punched the ball free as Johnson was about to score, the saving play in Seattle’s 13-10 win over the Detroit Lions on Monday night. With Detroit on the verge of capping a 91-yard drive with the go-ahead touchdown with less than 2 minutes remaining, Chancellor came from the side and punched the ball from Johnson’s arm as he was being tackled by Earl Thomas. It bounded into the end zone where it was guided over the back line by K.J. Wright for a touchback, making it Seattle’s ball at the 20.
It created a massive swing in the standings. Instead of both Seattle and Detroit sitting at 1-3 — assuming the Lions scored and held on — the Seahawks evened their record at 2-2 while Detroit sits at 0-4 for the first time since 2010.
But, as is the case with Monday night games in Seattle and specifically that end zone, officiating controversy followed. Wright should have been called for an illegal bat for hitting the ball out of the end zone, NFL VP of Officiating Dean Blandino told NFL Network. The penalty would have given the ball back to Detroit at the Seattle 1.
No flags were thrown, and on the ensuing possession, Russell Wilson found Jermaine Kearse for 50 yards on third down. With Detroit out of timeouts, the Seahawks ran off the final seconds.
“The back judge was on the play and in his judgment, he didn’t feel it was an overt act so he didn’t throw the flag,” Blandino said. “In looking at the replays, it looked like a bat so the enforcement would be basically we would go back to the spot of the fumble and Detroit would keep the football.”
The non-call came in the same end zone where Golden Tate caught his infamous “Fail Mary” when Seattle beat Green Bay on a Monday night three years ago.
“It’s a very thin line — super thin line — between wins and losses in this league,” Johnson said.
Here’s what else to know from Seattle’s 10th straight win on Monday nights:
PROTECT WILSON: Seattle’s offensive line continues to be a sieve for opposing defenses.
Wilson was sacked six times by Detroit and has been sacked 18 times this season, tied for the most in the NFL. Not all of the sacks are on the offensive line, but there are major concerns about pass protection and being able to create openings in the run game.
“It’s not as good as we needed it to be. The protection; we didn’t run the ball as well as we wanted tonight and we obviously had trouble protecting,” Carroll said. “We just have to help those guys more.”
NOWHERE TO RUN: Detroit continued to get little done on the ground. The Lions finished with 53 yards rushing on 18 carries, led by the 33 yards of Ameer Abdullah. Detroit’s longest run play was 9 yards, and the Lions have been held to fewer than 70 yards rushing as a team in every game this season.
“It’s a number of different things,” Caldwell said. “It’s not just the line, it’s across the board. It’s a bunch of different things here and there.”
INJURY BUG: There were significant injuries for both sides. Detroit lost tight end Eric Ebron (knee) and defensive tackles Haloti Ngata (calf) and Tyrunn Walker (leg) to injuries. Caldwell said the injury to Walker, who was taken off the field on a cart, was significant. Seattle lost running back Fred Jackson to a sprained ankle and nickel cornerback Marcus Burley broke his thumb.
HAUSCH MONEY: In a season where kickers are quickly becoming a story line, the Seahawks feel fortunate to have the consistency of Steven Hauschka. Hauschka hit field goals of 51 and 52 yards, becoming the first Seattle kicker to hit two 50-yarders in the same game since Josh Brown in 2007. Hauschka has made all 10 field-goal attempts this season.