By Steve Keating
DETROIT (Reuters) - Matthew Stafford tossed his third touchdown of the game with 20 seconds to play to lift the Detroit Lions to a 28-24 win over Seattle on Sunday and get the party started on a big sporting day in the Motor City.
With the Detroit Tigers preparing to take on the San Francisco Giants in a do-or-die Game Four of the World Series, the Lions came out looking to give their neighbors a boost and help their own playoff chances, improving their record to 3-4.
"Let's get win at Ford Field and carry that momentum over to Comerica tonight," Lions coach Jim Schwartz said on his Twitter account before the game. "No city in American fights harder to claw back when they are down than Detroit. Go @tigers."
The Seahawks (4-4) had looked ready to spoil the Motown mood when Russell Wilson hit Zach Miller with a 16-yard touchdown strike with just over five minutes remaining in the final quarter.
But Stafford answered with a masterful 87-yard scoring drive capped off by a one-yard bullet to Titus Young, who is seeing more action after a season-ending leg injury to starting wide out Nate Burleson.
The pass was Stafford's fourth career game-winning touchdown pass, and second this season, in the game's final minute.
Stafford completed 34-of-49 pass attempts for 352 yards, including a pair of touchdowns to Young and another to Ryan Broyles. The Detroit quarterback also ran for a score.
"I was just out there having fun, that's what it's all about," Stafford told reporters. "In NFL football, the fourth quarter is the fun.
"The difference was today we showed up in the first half, put 14 on the board and battled in the third quarter and really had a pretty good day offensively minus the interception I threw."
Undisciplined play has contributed to a disappointing start to the season for the Lions and penalties continued to prove costly.
After stopping Seattle at midfield, the Lions were called for an illegal formation that allowed the Seahawks to extend their opening drive that ended in 23-yard Steven Hauschka field goal.
Detroit answered with an 83-yard drive capped by a six-yard strike to Broyles on the last play of the opening quarter.
The Lions lead, however, lasted only as long as it took Seattle to get their hands back on the ball, Marshawn Lynch bursting through the Detroit line and racing 77 yards to the end zone.
Helped by 41-yard pass interference call that left the ball on the Detroit 15, the Seahawks again made the Lions pay for their mistakes, Wilson finding Sidney Rice unmarked for a nine-yard touchdown.
But Detroit would end the half in style, Stafford hooking up with a streaking Young on a 46-yard bomb to cut the Seattle lead to 17-14 going into the intermission.
"You guys that are around Titus; he's never lacked for self-confidence," said Schwartz. "Titus is always positive and his role has changed a little bit now. But he's always upbeat and has a lot confidence in his ability to make plays."
After a scoreless third quarter, the Lions retook the lead when Stafford called his own number on the one, galloping around the corner for the score.
Wilson then went to work engineering an 87-yard drive that ended with a 16-yard touchdown toss to Miller setting the stage of the Lions' comeback win.
"That's life in the NFL, every week it's week-to-week," said Schwartz. "You have to live in the moment.
"You have to win that game. I think this team does a pretty good job of that. You have to persevere through things.
"Teams that do well over 16 games persevere through some tough times or adversity."
(Editing by Julian Linden and Gene Cherry)