The Tennessee Titans used the heat in their hometown and power running game to wear down the Seattle Seahawks.
After a first half that featured punts at the end of all but one of the Seahawks’ drives, their defense was left gasping for air in a 33-20 defeat at the hands of the Titans.
That made Seattle’s most effective game on offense so far this season – at least in the second – mean nothing as the Seahawks fell to 1-2 even though Russell Wilson threw four touchdowns and set a career-high in passing yards.
Here’s a breakdown of each quarter of Seattle’s loss.
Seahawks 0, Titans 0
After an out-of-the-ordinary pregame that saw both teams remain in their locker rooms during the national anthem, neither the Seahawks or Titans were able to get anything going on offense. Both teams punted on each of their first four possessions, and as was also the case in Seattle’s first two games this year, its defense dominated early but didn’t get much of a break due to the offense’s struggles to move down field. Quarterback Russell Wilson was off more than he was on with his throwing accuracy, with a 13-yard completion to Doug Baldwin serving as the biggest offensive highlight of the first 15 minutes. As rough as Wilson had it, completing 3 of 8 attempts for 22 yards, Tennessee QB Marcus Mariota had just as hard of a time against Seattle’s swarming D, completing 3 of 10 passes for 33 yards. As the quarter ended, however, the Titans were in Seattle territory and on the brink of breaking the scoreless tie.
Missed opportunity: A Kam Chancellor interception was nullified due to a pass interference call on Richard Sherman. That was just one of three penalties Sherman was flagged for at the same time, the others being holding after the interception (declined) and unsportsmanlike conduct after the play.
Notable: LB Dewey McDonald suffered a knee injury on the opening kickoff and ruled out for the rest of the game, a big blow to a Seahawks special teams unit that is already down Neiko Thorpe and D.J. Alexander.
Seahawks 7, Titans 6
The end of the first half continues to be when Seattle’s offense is at its most comfortable. Just before the 2-minute warning, Russell Wilson connected with Doug Baldwin for a 36-yard pass, then after the quick break he found a streaking C.J. Prosise on a 46-yarder to get inside the Tennessee 5. Baldwin then made a spectacular 4-yard reception to get Seattle not only on the board but in the lead even though it had punted in each of its preceding six drives. The Titans responded by storming back down the field to set up Ryan Succop’s third field goal of the quarter, though, to take a 9-7 advantage into the second hald. Earlier, the Seahawks got a big break in that star cornerback Richard Sherman, who already had one personal foul in the first quarter, wasn’t ejected for a late hit on Titans QB Marcus Mariota that set off a skirmish between the two teams that resulted in a combined four penalties after the play by Seattle and Tennessee that offset each other. Tennessee appeared to give Seattle’s QB a receipt for the hit on the Seahawks’ next drive, as Wilson was slammed down hard after recovering a fumbled snap on third down. Tennessee broke the scoreless tie five plays into the second frame with a 24-yard field goal by Succop after the Seahawks defense was finally able to stop the Titans at the Seattle 6. The series, which started late in the first quarter, lasted 11 plays and covered 61 yards, easily the longest sustained drive by any team to that point. The Titans followed up with a 12-play drive that resulted in another field goal, this time from 37 yards.
Notable: Tenessee’s Adoree’ Jackson had a punt return for a touchdown called back for a block in the back. Had he scored, the Seahawks would have found themselves down at least 12 points, but instead they took the lead into the half thanks to the call, a defensive stop and Doug Baldwin’s touchdown.
TEN – Ryan Succop FG 24, 13:26 (3-0 TEN)
TEN – Ryan Succop FG 37, 5:56 (6-0 TEN)
SEA – Russell Wilson 4 pass to Doug Baldwin, 1:15 (Blair Walsh kick, 7-6 SEA)
TEN – Ryan Succop FG 47, :05 (9-7 TEN)
Titans 30, Seahawks 14
Considering how much of a struggle it has been on offense for the Seahawks early on this season, the fact that they scored touchdowns on two straight drives – one just before halftime, another right after – should be reason to celebrate. Unfortunately for Seattle, Tennessee found a weakness in the Seahawks’ defense and moved into a 16-point lead. Seattle reeled off a nine-play, 75-yard drive to open the third quarter that ended with a 10-yard touchdown pass from Russell Wilson to Chris Carson, marking the rookie running back’s first career touchdown. But the 14-9 Seahawks lead was short-lived as the Titans found the end zone three times in the frame, all on drives that lasted five plays or less. The first score was a 55-yard catch-and-run by Rishard Matthews on a play that was a full-scale breakdown for Seattle. Then came a 24-yard touchdown reception by Jonnu Smith from Marcus Mariota. Finally, DeMarco Murray took a handoff 75 yards on the first play of a series to make it a 30-14 game. After Seattle couldn’t do much more than punt when it had the ball in the first half, Tennessee was able to make the most of a tired Seahawks’ defense in the Nashville heat to take control.
Notable: A 26-yard reception to tight end Jimmy Graham was a big part of the drive that ended in Carson’s TD catch. That was Graham’s first catch to go for more than a yard in a game that comes a week after he suffered an ankle injury against San Francisco.
SEA – Russell Wilson 10 pass to Chris Carson, 10:09 (Blair Walsh kick, 14-9 SEA)
TEN – Marcus Mariota 55 pass to Rishard Matthews, 7:34 (Ryan Succop kick, 16-14 TEN)
TEN – Marcus Mariota 24 pass to Jonnu Smith, 3:50 (Ryan Succop kick, 23-14 TEN)
TEN – DeMarco Murray 75 run, 1:34 (Ryan Succop kick, 30-14 TEN)
Titans 33, Seahawks 27
The Seahawks entered the quarter trailing by two scores while the clock worked against them, but they couldn’t afford to score too quickly considering how out of energy their defense was. So even though Russell Wilson found tight end Luke Willson for a 27-yard score a minute into the frame, the defense couldn’t prevent Tennessee from responding with a field goal to push its lead back to 13 points. The Seahawks eventually found the end zone again on an 8-yard pass to Paul Richardson inside the final two minutes, but Tennessee was able to corral the ensuing onside kick and run out the clock.
Notable: Wide receiver Doug Baldwin, Russell Wilson’s most reliable target, found a home on the sideline in the quarter due to a groin injury.
SEA – Russell Wilson 27 pass to Luke Willson, 14:00 (pass failed, 30-20 TEN)
TEN – Ryan Succop FG 35, 10:05 (33-20 TEN)
SEA – Russell Wilson 8 pass to Paul Richardson, 1:50 (Blair Walsh kick, 33-27 TEN)