What happened on clock malfunction that cost Detroit Lions their lone stop on defense?

The Detroit Lions' struggling defense appeared to get a much-needed stop on a third-and-16 play late in the third quarter of Sunday's 48-45 loss to the Seattle Seahawks, only to allow a back-breaking touchdown when the Seahawks got a do-over thanks to an official's timely whistle.

The Seahawks led, 31-23, with 40 seconds left in the quarter when quarterback Geno Smith threw incomplete on a short pass to his left.

As Lions fans celebrated the stop — seemingly the first the defense had all day — side judge Dave Hawkshaw signaled he had blown the play dead to correct an error on the game clock with a whistle that was inaudible over the roar of the crowd.

Detroit Lions kicker Dominik Eberle misses an extra point during the first half against the Seattle Seahawks at Ford Field, Oct. 2, 2022.
Detroit Lions kicker Dominik Eberle misses an extra point during the first half against the Seattle Seahawks at Ford Field, Oct. 2, 2022.

The play clock also reset from 25 to 40 seconds shortly before the snap, and referee Clay Martin said in a pool report Hawkshaw's whistle came before the ball was snapped.

"He came running in and shut it down to fix the game clock," Martin said. "So we fixed the game clock to where the clock was when the ball hit the ground on the grounding play (the play before). So essentially, that third down you’re referencing never happened because the side judge came and shut down prior to the snap."

On the do-over, the Lions lined up in a zero blitz with eight men at the line of scrimmage. Smith handed the ball to Rashaad Penny, who followed a pulling block from left guard Damien Lewis through a gaping hole on the right side of the line.

LIONS GRADES:Fs all around for atrocious defense in 48-45 loss to Seattle Seahawks

Penny juked Lions cornerback Amani Oruwariye, the team's lone deep defender on that side of the field, around the 25-yard line and ran untouched to the end zone to give the Seahawks a 38-23 lead as Lions fans booed officials and threw debris on the field.

Lions coach Dan Campbell and several players said they did not hear the whistle before the ball was snapped on the initial play, though both Seahawks receivers and Lions defensive backs near Hawkshaw pulled up on the play.

"I thought that it had been the play had snapped before he (blew the whistle)," Campbell said. "He said that and I’m like, ‘Well, if you did there’s —’ I did not. So, I’m not blaming it on them. They didn’t do that, we lost this game."

Defensive lineman Michael Brockers called that sequence of events "a big deal."

"There was a lot of confusion going on," Brockers said. "They didn’t know what was going on and then that was one of the plays they popped. Third-and-(16), we’re expecting them to throw something quick and then they come out with a draw. Some things you didn’t expect that they would do and you got to tip your hat to them."

Oct 2, 2022; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Seattle Seahawks running back Kenneth Walker III (9) is tackled by Detroit Lions safety DeShon Elliott (5) during second half action at Ford Field.
Oct 2, 2022; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Seattle Seahawks running back Kenneth Walker III (9) is tackled by Detroit Lions safety DeShon Elliott (5) during second half action at Ford Field.

Campbell said the Seahawks (2-2) out-schemed the Lions on Penny's touchdown run. Seattle had not shown a willingness to run in those situations all year, and the Lions were expecting a pass.

"It’s a zero beater, obviously," linebacker Alex Anzalone said. "So that's kind of what they got us in and it was kind of shit out of luck when they run it. It’s good situational football by them.”

CARLOS MONARREZ:Lions will need to spend big (on draft picks, free agents) to fix putrid defense

'No excuses'

Dominik Eberle had a forgettable Lions debut Sunday.

Filling in at kicker for the injured Austin Seibert, Eberle missed two extra points in the first half and sent a kickoff out of bounds.

“Just missed them," he told the Free Press in the locker room after the game. "No excuses. I just missed them. Got to make them. That’s all."

Signed off the Lions' practice squad Saturday, Eberle made a 49-yard field goal in the second quarter and made two extra points in the fourth quarter after the Lions successfully converted a pair of two-point conversions.

He said nerves were not a factor; Sunday was his second career NFL game. And he took little solace in making his late-game kicks.

"I’m mad at myself for the performance for sure but I’m going to keep my head high," he said. "I know I can make those kicks. And that’s all I really can do. I can just focus on the next one."

Seibert's status for this week's game against the New England Patriots is uncertain. He is dealing with soreness in his groin related to scar tissue from a surgery he underwent last fall.

"Amani came back and (Malcolm Rodriguez came back after leaving the game)," Campbell said. "We’ll see tomorrow how they were, but that’s usually a good sign they were able to come back. And Cephus, I’m not sure. He could be a little longer, but I don’t know what that is. I don’t know how bad that is yet.”

SHAWN WINDSOR:Will the pain ever stop with these Lions? Hard to see it after loss to lowly Seattle

Injury update

Oct 2, 2022; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Seattle Seahawks wide receiver DK Metcalf (14) is tackled by Detroit Lions safety DeShon Elliott (5) during first half action at Ford Field.
Oct 2, 2022; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Seattle Seahawks wide receiver DK Metcalf (14) is tackled by Detroit Lions safety DeShon Elliott (5) during first half action at Ford Field.

Wide receiver Quintez Cephus left Sunday's game with a foot injury and did not return, leaving the Lions — already shorthanded at the position without Amon-Ra St. Brown and DJ Chark — to finish the game with three receivers: Josh Reynolds, Kalif Raymond and Tom Kennedy.

Oruwariye (neck) and offensive lineman Evan Brown (undisclosed) also left late in the game with injuries, though Oruwariye returned for the final series.

Contact Dave Birkett at dbirkett@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: How did Detroit Lions lone defensive stop vs. Seattle get reversed?