DETROIT — The Detroit Lions drafted Titus Young last year, envisioning him as the receiver to eventually replace veteran Nate Burleson.
It has happened sooner than planned, and Young is making the most of his opportunity.
Young caught his second touchdown pass from Matthew Stafford on a 1-yard slant with 20 seconds left, lifting Detroit to a 28-24 win over the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday.
“Matthew trusted me all day, and he gave me a perfect opportunity to make a play at the end,” Young said. “I wanted do that for everyone on the team, but I especially wanted to do it for Nate.”
Burleson broke his right leg in Monday night’s loss at Chicago, pushing Young up the depth chart. Burleson sent a motivational message to his teammates on offense that was shown on video Saturday night.
Young caught a go-ahead TD midway through the second quarter and finished with nine receptions and 100 yards receiving — both career highs — in a breakout performance that didn’t surprise Detroit coach Jim Schwartz.
“I wasn’t worried about Titus,” Schwartz said. “Titus has never lacked for self-confidence.”
Young needed to make the second TD catch after Zach Miller had a spectacular, 16-yard snag on a toss from Russell Wilson with 5:27 left that put the Seahawks ahead.
But Seattle (4-4) couldn’t stop the Lions (3-4) on their last possession.
“We’re disappointed that after that terrific drive, we couldn’t finish it off the way we wanted to,” Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. “We didn’t get the stops on third down.”
That was a problem for the Seahawks all afternoon, giving up first downs on 12 of 16 third downs on defense, including three on Detroit’s last drive.
Stafford led the 16-play possession that started at Detroit’s 20 with 5:27 remaining. It began with a 15-yard pass to Calvin Johnson and was kept alive with third-down conversion passes to Johnson in Lions territory, to Joique Bell that set up the winning score from just outside the goal line on another third down.
After Stafford had to throw away two passes to avoid sacks with no timeouts left, Young broke inside of cornerback Brandon Browner and caught the winning TD pass.
“There were four dudes standing next to Calvin and one standing next to Titus, so I liked my odds on that side,” Stafford said. “Calvin got a lot of attention all game, just like he always does, but the other guys stepped up. Titus had a huge game, Brandon Pettigrew had a hell of a game, Ryan Broyles made some big plays, and the running backs were coming out of the backfield and making catches.
“That’s what we needed.”
Stafford threw a winning TD pass with less than a minute left for the second time this year and for the fourth time in four seasons. He has led nine drives — including three this year — that led to decisive winning scores in the fourth quarter and overtime during his 36-game career.
“It’s easy to be confident in Matt when you are with him every day,” Schwartz said. “The talent he has isn’t just going to go away.”
Stafford was 34 of 49 for 352 yards with three TDs, also connecting with Broyles in the end zone at the end of the first quarter. The quarterback also ran for a 1-yard TD that gave Detroit a lead early in the fourth period for the first time this year.
It looked like the Lions were going to blow it.
Seattle went ahead when Wilson lobbed a pass into the end zone that a leaping Miller tipped to himself with his right hand and hauled in with both hands for the go-ahead TD.
“I knew he’d catch it,” Wilson said. “He has unbelievable hands.”
Seattle, though, was the team that failed to hold onto the lead and ended up losing consecutive games for the first time this year.
Wilson was 25 of 35 for 236 yards with two TDs and an interception. Marshawn Lynch ran just 12 times for 105 yards, including a career-high 77-yard run early in the second quarter for one of five lead changes in the closely contested game.
Sidney Rice had six receptions for 55 yards and a 9-yard score that put Seattle up 17-7 early in the second quarter.
Young’s first score, catching a 46-yard pass in stride from Stafford, started Detroit’s comeback on the ensuing possession. His second one sealed the much-needed victory for the Lions.
“Huge win,” Detroit defensive end Cliff Avril said. “I’m just glad we pulled it out because 2-5 is a bigger hole than 3-4.”
NOTES: Lions S Louis Delmas injured his left knee, which was surgically repaired in August, and left in the third quarter. “It’s the same knee, but I don’t know that it is the same injury,” Schwartz said. “He’ll have tests.” ... The Lions left starting LB DeAndre Levy (shoulder) and key CB Bill Bentley (ankle) inactive and Seattle was without reserve WR Braylon Edwards and backup DE Jason Jones inactive. The team said Edwards woke up with a swollen knee and the decision to leave him out was made after he tried to go through pregame warm-ups.