SEATTLE (AP) - A season that appeared so promising a month ago ended with an offensive whimper for the Detroit Lions and extended the franchise's history of playoff futility.
Detroit, which lost its final three regular-season games and has not won a playoff game since the 1991 season, failed to score a touchdown in a mistake-filled 26-6 loss to the Seattle Seahawks on Saturday night in the wild-card round.
"You play against a team like Seattle, you've got to seize your opportunities," Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford said. "They're a really good defense. We had some opportunities and didn't come away with any yards, first downs, points or whatever it was. It's tough to win a game when you play that way."
The Lions (9-8), whose two-game lead in the NFC North slipped away over the final three games, were unable to muster a consistent attack from the onset against the Seahawks.
Detroit also was penalized seven times for 68 yards, including two major infractions by veteran players that contributed to Seattle scores. The Lions also had several dropped passes in key third-down situations that stalled early possessions.
"Some things are inexplicable," said Lions coach Jim Caldwell. "Our guys have usually been pretty sharp with catching the ball. We had some drops out there, we lost our poise a couple times. That's a fact of the matter, and it was a couple of older guys."
It was the ninth straight postseason loss for the Lions, whose last road playoff victory was in 1957 at San Francisco en route to winning the NFL championship. Detroit's last playoff win was 38-6 at home over Dallas in the divisional round on Jan. 5, 1992.
Detroit's first four possessions netted 77 yards, resulting in three punts and a pass on fourth-and-1 from the Seattle 38 that lost two yards, leading to Seattle's first touchdown.
"It was designed to work, obviously, but they had it covered up and we didn't get it," Caldwell said. "But, you've got to go for it in that situation, I think, and we just didn't get it. They did a better job of covering than we did executing."
The Lions finally got on the board with 25 seconds left in the first half when Matt Prater's 51-yard field goal capped a seven-play, 42-yard drive to cut the Seahawks' lead to 10-3.
The Lions, who allowed 42 and 31 points in the previous two losses, forced a punt on the opening possession of the second half.
Detroit took over at its own 4 and marched to the Seattle 35, before Stafford's pass for Golden Tate on third-and-2 sailed high.
The Lions settled for Prater's 53-yarder to make it 10-6 with 4:08 left in the third quarter, but Seattle answered with a 10-play, 66-yard drive culminating in Steven Hauschka's 27-yard field goal to push the lead to 13-6 early in the fourth quarter.
The Lions set an NFL record this season by coming from behind eight times in the fourth quarter to win, but couldn't rally against the Seahawks defense.
Detroit punted on each of its next two possessions, and Seattle responded with touchdown drives of 82 and 84 yards, leaving old Kezar Stadium in San Francisco as the site of the Lions' last playoff road win.
"It was 13-6 at one point in time as well, 10-3, 10-6, we're still right there in it. Those are our kind of games," Caldwell said. "What they did better, though, is they were able to make some plays, extend drives and get in position and finally stopped kicking field goals and made a couple touchdowns on us. We couldn't answer. We did not answer, I should say."
Stafford said he was concerned with this loss, rather than the Lions' playoff history.
"To me, every team is different. Each year is totally different. How we got here is not like any other year that we've had," Stafford said. "You can say that pretty much about every year. I don't look at it collectively, I look at individually and we didn't get it done today, we didn't get it done this year."