O’Neil: Seahawks better hope defense was just tired in loss to Titans

Sep 24, 2017, 8:21 PM | Updated: 8:24 pm

The Titans scored on five straight possessions against Seattle, including three touchdowns. (AP)...

The Titans scored on five straight possessions against Seattle, including three touchdowns. (AP)


NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Maybe the Seahawks were exhausted.

That could explain why the defense gave up three straight touchdowns in the third quarter, including the longest run it has allowed in Pete Carroll’s tenure.

Perhaps it was the weather. The humidity was 97 percent on Sunday, and the game-time temperature of 88 degrees was reminiscent of the sauna Seattle played in against the Rams in Week 2 last year.

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Being on the field for 43 snaps in the first half couldn’t have helped either, adding up to what became a back-breaking burden on Seattle’s defense in the second half of a 33-27 loss to Tennessee.

Or maybe this defense isn’t quite as stout as expected.

It’s certainly possible given what we’ve seen the past two weeks.

It started last week when the 49ers rushed for 158 yards, including a 61-yard gain by Carlos Hyde. The Titans got that and then some, gaining 195 yards on the ground including a 75-yard touchdown run that was the longest run against the Seahawks since Week 2 of the 2009 season when Jim Mora was still the coach.

It’s not just the fact that Seattle lost that’s a concern, but how the Seahawks lost. They got run over. Repeatedly.

Tennessee rushed for 165 yards in the second half, which was more rushing yards than the Seahawks allowed in any full game over the previous two seasons.

“It’s on us,” linebacker Bobby Wagner said. “We’ve got to do a better job of executing.”

The Seahawks allowed the Titans to score on five straight possessions, including three consecutive touchdown drives in the third quarter. Seattle allowed a touchdown pass of 55 yards to some guy named Rishard Matthews and followed that up by giving up a 75-yard touchdown run to DeMarco Murray, which was only the longest run in Pete Carroll’s eight-year tenure as Seattle coach.

“It’s just bad ball,” linebacker K.J. Wright said of the breakdowns. “It’s just bad defense. Bad fits. It’s so easy but sometimes out there you just make mistakes and it happens, but we get paid a lot to not make those mistakes.

“This defense was No. 1 the past few years for a reason so we have to get rid of that.”

The Titans rushed for 195 yards against Seattle, the most allowed by the Seahawks since they gave up back-to-back 200-yard rushing games in 2013. Of course, the Seahawks won both of those games. They lost in Tennessee because they couldn’t stop the Titans.

Not after Seattle took a 14-9 lead 5 minutes into the second half, and not after the Seahawks were threatening to climb back into the game, having cut the deficit to 10 points with 13:59 left in the fourth quarter.

It was completely unexpected compared to what Seattle’s defense had done the first two and a half games of the season, giving up a total of two touchdowns in 10 quarters.

While Seattle trailed 9-7 at halftime, the Seahawks had held the Titans to 30 yards rushing on 17 carries. The Titans didn’t have a run longer than 6 yards in the first half.

So maybe the Seahawks were tired in the second half. That’s the easy answer if only because the alternative is much more troubling.

In the 48 regular-season games Seattle played the past three years, there were four opponents who rushed for more than 150 yards.

Tennessee became the second to do it in eight days.

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