SEATTLE—Matt Hasselbeck had a throbbing shoulder, to go with broken ribs.
His Seahawks had even bigger issues. Faster than you can say "road kill," they were down 17-0 at home to the Lions.
Told by coaches to win the game himself, the ailing, three-time Pro Bowl passer did. He rallied Seattle to 25 consecutive points with a franchise-record 39 completions, and the desperate Seahawks held off Detroit 32-20 Sunday to avoid the indignity of being the first home team to lose to the Lions in more than two years.
"I don't care who you're playing, if you have Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, whoever at quarterback - Troy Aikman - you don't want to get down 17-0. We're just fortunate," said T.J. Houshmandzadeh, who caught a 2-yard touchdown pass late in the third quarter to finally put Seattle ahead.
Yet he still thought his team was going to win.
"It could be that we were playing Detroit," Houshmandzadeh said.
Yep, could be.
Seemingly headed for their first road win since Oct. 28, 2007, at Chicago, the Lions (1-7) instead flew home unhappy. Again.
"It's super tough, man," said Detroit cornerback William James. "We were so close. We're always so close. I'm tired of being so close."
Josh Wilson returned an interception 61 yards for a touchdown with 22 seconds left, the last of five INTs by rookie Matthew Stafford.
Playing his second game since missing two weeks with a knee injury, Stafford was 22 of 42 for 203 yards. When he wasn't forcing long throws, Stafford watched passes clang off the hands of tight end Casey FitzSimmons and others.
Starting at his own 5 with no timeouts remaining and 2:03 left, he moved Detroit to midfield before his final, decisive mistake.
He stood on the sideline with his hands on his hips and silver helmet popped halfway off his head. He spat into the ground. For a while, no teammate or coach came near him.
"You have to understand, I can't turn the ball over. I (gave) it right back to them," Stafford said.
Asked if the top overall pick regressed against a defense that had shared the NFL low with three interceptions in seven games, coach Jim Schwartz said, "I agree in some part. We also need to do a better job helping our quarterback out."
Hasselbeck banged his shoulder making a tackle following the interception he threw on Seattle's first play. He then relied on short throws until his shoulder loosened and finished with the first 300-yard passing game in two seasons for the Seahawks (3-5). He was 39 of 51 for 329 yards.
"He shows his true leadership to me. He showed everything that he is," said Seattle coach Jim Mora, who's been in the league 26 years. "I don't know if I have had any more respect for any player I've ever coached."
So what did Hasselbeck do to celebrate keeping Seattle at least within sight of the NFC West-leading Cardinals (5-3), heading into next weekend's game at Arizona?
He took his family to Krispy Kreme.
Sure beat the doughnut he and his team swallowed in that first quarter.
Seattle's first six plays included the interception; a lost fumble by Justin Griffith forced by former Seahawks linebacker Julian Peterson; two negative-yardage runs by Julius Jones; then another for no gain on a fourth-and-inches gamble in his team's own end by a desperate Mora.
"I'd had enough," Mora said.
Stafford turned the interception into a 7-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Pettigrew. Bryant Johnson made a diving, one-armed catch in the back of the end zone for a 29-yard score off Griffith's fumble. Then, after Larry Foote denied Jones on fourth down, Jason Hanson atoned for missing from 34 yards at the end of a 14-play opening drive by making a field goal.
Detroit had its largest lead on the road since Sept. 7, 2007, in the third quarter of an eventual 15-point win at Oakland. And the Seahawks had their formerly lovable home fans booing them off the field.
Seattle was helped late in the third quarter by a 16-yard pass-interference penalty on James when Hasselbeck's pass skidded 20 yards past Nate Burleson on third-and-3. That set up Houshmandzadeh's go-ahead score.
"He said I impeded his progress," James said in expressing his displeasure at the call by side judge Keith Washington.
NOTES: It was only the second time this decade Seattle had five INTs in a game. ... Detroit WR Calvin Johnson caught just two passes for 27 yards in his first game since Oct. 11 following a right knee injury.