SEATTLE — The Detroit Lions fumbled away their chance at completing a drive that could turnaround the winless start to their season.
Then the officials fumbled another Monday night call in Seattle in the same end zone as the infamous "Fail Mary."
"What can you do? You're not going to cry about it that's for sure," Detroit coach Jim Caldwell said.
Seattle safety Kam Chancellor knocked the ball free from Detroit wide receiver Calvin Johnson at the 1-yard line when it appeared the Lions were going to take the lead, and Seattle held on for a 13-10 win on Monday night.
With Detroit on the verge of capping a 91-yard drive with the go-ahead touchdown with less than two minutes remaining, Chancellor came from the side and punched the ball from Johnson's arm as the receiver 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.
And that's where the controversy began. 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.
But 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 (2-2) ran off the final seconds of their second straight win.
"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."
It's the second time this calendar year the Lions have been on the wrong side of a key officiating decision. In their playoff loss to Dallas in January, the Lions had an important pass interference flag against Dallas late in the fourth quarter picked up.
"It's unfortunate, but you can't put the game in the referee's hands," Johnson said.
The non-call provided another memorable Monday night moment in Seattle. It was three years ago when replacement officials credited Golden Tate with a disputed touchdown reception on the final play in nearly the same spot as Seattle beat Green Bay.
Now it was Tate, playing for Detroit, on the opposite side of a strange play in the Emerald City. Detroit (0-4) is off to its worst start since it also started 0-4 in 2010.
"To go 90 yards against a defense like that in an environment like that, not a lot of teams do that," Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford said. "We had our chance and we didn't get it done."
It was an ugly performance by the home team, filled with offensive mistakes and two fourth-quarter fumbles by Wilson, the second returned 27 yards for a touchdown by Caraun Reid to pull Detroit to 13-10.
But in the end, Seattle's defense came through.
Starting on their 9 with 6:23 remaining, the Lions converted a big third down on Tate's 22-yard catch-and-run and reached the Seattle 46 with three minutes left on Ameer Abdullah's 9-yard run. Stafford then zipped a pass to No. 3 tight end Tim Wright down the seam for 26 yards to the Seattle 20 with 2:30 remaining, placing it between Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas and Chancellor.
The Lions reached the Seattle 11 and on third-and-1, Stafford passed to an open Johnson. As Johnson stretched for the goal line, Chancellor came across and knocked the ball free.
Seattle has not allowed an offensive touchdown in the two games since Chancellor ended his holdout and has forced 18 punts during that stretch.
Detroit lost starting tight end Eric Ebron and both starting defensive tackles Haloti Ngata and Tyrunn Walker to injuries. Ebron suffered a knee injury in the first half after having two early catches, while Ngata and Walker both went out in the second half. Ngata suffered a calf injury while Walker was taken off on a cart after suffering a left leg injury in the fourth quarter. Caldwell said Walker's injury was significant.
NOTES: Wilson threw for 287 yards and a 24-yard touchdown to Doug Baldwin in the second quarter. ...Stafford was 24 of 35 for 203 yards with 73 yards on Detroit's final drive. ... Seattle played without RB Marshawn Lynch for the first time since Week 7 of the 2011 season. ... Tate had three catches for 29 yards in his return.