O’Neil: Defense lets down Seahawks in 33-27 loss to Titans

Sep 24, 2017, 4:52 PM | Updated: 5:27 pm

DeMarco Murray's TD was the longest run given up by the Seahawks under Pete Carroll. (AP)...

DeMarco Murray's TD was the longest run given up by the Seahawks under Pete Carroll. (AP)


NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The game was almost unbearable for the first 28 minutes.

Then it became unbelievably exciting at the end of the second quarter and the start of the third.

And then it tapered off into another road loss that was excruciating if only because it was the defense that let the Seahawks down.

Titans 33, Seahawks 27 at Nissan Stadium.

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If you missed it, you didn’t miss much. For 28 minutes, the Seahawks offense couldn’t do anything, and for the final 32 minutes, their defense couldn’t stop anyone.

In a game where Russell Wilson threw a career-high 49 passes for a regular-season career-high 376 yards, it was the defense that ultimately let Seattle down. The Titans scored on five successive drives, three for touchdowns. Running back DeMarco Murray’s 75-yard touchdown run was the longest run allowed by Seattle since Jim Mora was coach.

It added up to a game that was enjoyable for all of about 7 of the 60 minutes of the game clock. Specifically, the final 2:04 of the second quarter when the Seahawks drove 84 yards in just over a minute to score their first touchdown on a diving catch by Doug Baldwin with 1:15 left in the second quarter.

The Seahawks scored on their first possession of the second half, too, driving 75 yards before scoring on a 10-yard touchdown pass to rookie running back Chris Carson that gave Seattle a 14-9 lead with 10:15 left in the third quarter.

That was quite a turnaround from how the game started as Seattle’s first six possessions resulted in 41 yards of total offense and just two first downs.

The Titans weren’t much better. There were eight punts in this game before anyone scored any points, and the biggest gain of the Titans’ first scoring drive came on a play in which cornerback Richard Sherman was assessed three different penalties, negating a Seattle interception and helping the Titans to the first of their three field goals in the second quarter.

When the Seahawks took a 14-9 lead early in the third quarter, it seemed like they had weathered the early struggles and were in position to take control.

That’s right about where Seattle’s defense caved in. Maybe it was the humidity in Tennessee. Perhaps it was the weight of holding opponents to a combined total of two touchdowns over the first 10 quarters of play this season.

It wasn’t just the three touchdowns gave up on Tennessee’s first three possessions of the third quarter, it was how the Seahawks surrendered those scores. A 55-yard touchdown pass in which some guy named Rishard Matthews outran Kam Chancellor and then outmaneuvered K.J. Wright to reach the end zone. Or the 75-yard touchdown by Murray, the longest run given up by Seattle in any regular-season game since Frank Gore’s 80-yard touchdown run in Week 2 of 2009.

Even when Seattle cut the lead to 30-20 with Luke Willson’s 27-yard touchdown catch early in the fourth quarter, the Seahawks simply couldn’t find a way to dig in their heels.

The Titans picked up three first downs in four plays on the ensuing possession, which resulted in a 35-yard field goal, Ryan Succop’s fourth of the game.

It was the fifth straight possession in which the Titans scored against the Seahawks. Seattle scored its fourth touchdown of the game on an 8-yard touchdown pass to Paul Richardson with 1:55 left.

Delanie Walker recovered the ensuing kickoff, and since Seattle had just one timeout remaining, the Titans were able to run out the clock.

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