Seahawks Choke Away Late Lead, Drop Home Opener to Titans

Failing to finish in the fourth quarter as they have done countless times in the past, the Seahawks allowed 17 unanswered points to Derrick Henry and the Titans during the fourth quarter and overtime to suffer one of the most deflating losses of the Pete Carroll era during their home regular season opener.
Author:
Publish date:

Entering the tunnel at halftime with a 24-9 lead over the Titans on Sunday, the Seahawks had history on their side. Playing at home, they had never lost any of their previous 52 games with a 15-point lead in the second half.

Unfortunately, all streaks are meant to be broken and despite putting up 30 points on the scoreboard, it wasn't enough as Seattle unraveled in the fourth quarter and overtime on both sides of the football, yielding 17 unanswered points as Tennessee exited Lumen Field with a shocking 33-30 victory.

Five takeaways from a demoralizing loss in the Seahawks' home opener:

1. Without explosives, Seattle’s offense was by and large contained by Tennessee.

Statistically, Russell Wilson enjoyed another quality outing and benefited from busted plays by the Titans' secondary. First, a pair of defenders weren't able to get Lockett to the ground after he hauled in his second catch down the hash marks and the receiver slipped away somehow, going the distance to give Seattle a 10-6 lead midway through the second quarter. Then at the 13:06 mark in the fourth quarter, Wilson underthrew a deep ball down the seam to Swain, but it didn't matter because another defender wasn't within 15 yards of him and he wound up scoring with ease. Taking those two plays and a sensational two-minute drill to close out the first half out of the picture, however, the rest of the day was pretty poor for Seattle's offense. Shane Waldron's attack was held to 77 yards on the ground, the Seahawks were limited to four conversions on 12 third down opportunities, and they had three total first downs after halftime, failing to sustain drives. To close things out, with a chance to win the game in overtime, Wilson misfired on two deep balls to Lockett and Metcalf before nearly giving the game away on a safety during a nightmare of a possession that sealed the team's fate.

2. The Russell Wilson to Tyler Lockett combination continues to be one of the NFL's most lethal.

If there's a bright side in what turned into an ugly home defeat, and there certainly were some despite the outcome, a historic start by Lockett takes the cake. The seventh-year receiver caught two passes for 114 yards in the first half, averaging 57 yards per reception. He started off by making a remarkable catch tracking a 51-yard rainbow from Wilson, setting up Seattle's first field goal. Then in the second quarter, trailing by three points, he put on the brakes to evade two defenders on another deep ball by Wilson and raced 63 yards for a score. With the fantastic half, he shattered Steve Largent's previous franchise record of 215 yards in the first two games of a season. He finished the afternoon with eight receptions for 178 yards and currently is on a scintillating pace for 2,363 yards and 26 touchdowns. After years of criminally being overlooked as one of the NFL's premier receivers, that may no longer be the case thanks to his red-hot start.

3. Aside from a third quarter flurry, the Seahawks weren't able to turn the heat up on Ryan Tannehill most of the day.

One week after harassing Carson Wentz for four quarters, the Seahawks weren't able to find similar success despite going against a Titans' offensive line missing both their starting left tackle and starting right guard most of the game. While they amassed eight quarterback hits on the afternoon, only six of those came from their defensive line and the majority of that damage came during a fourth quarter stop that at the time seemed to salvage the game for Carroll's squad. During that sequence, Al Woods gobbled up Tannehill for a second down sack and then Kerry Hyder recorded quarterback hits on the next two plays, leading to a turnover on downs. Taking those three plays and strip-sack by Alton Robinson that set up a short Chris Carson touchdown run in the second quarter out of the equation, however, it was a silent day from Seattle's pass rush as Darrell Taylor, Carlos Dunlap, Rasheem Green, and Benson Mayowa were by and large non-factors. As a result, Tannehill finished with 347 passing yards and was comfortable most of the afternoon.

4. Constant body blows from Derrick Henry took a toll on Seattle's defense, which broke late in regulation.

In the first half, the Seahawks all but bottled up the two-time defending rushing champion, limiting him to 2.7 yards per carry on 13 carries. But like all great backs, King Henry could only be contained for so long and the Titans willingness to keep feeding the ball to the 245-pound runner eventually wore down the defense in the second half. On the opening drive of the third quarter, when Seattle thought it had him dead in the water, he bounced back to his left across the field and scored a nine-yard touchdown to cut the lead to eight. Immediately after Swain's touchdown extended Seattle's lead back to 14 points early in the fourth, Henry bounced a run to his left and cornerback Tre Flowers found himself too wide, allowing the back to slip past him inside. The former Alabama star then turned on the afterburners, displaying rare speed for a player of his size. He stiff-armed safety Quandre Diggs as he sprinted down the sidelines for a 60-yard touchdown. He later would punch it in from a yard out with 29 seconds left in regulation to tie the game and force overtime. Bludgeoning Seattle's defense with 35 carries for 182 yards - tied for the most in a single game against Carroll's defense since 2010 - and three touchdowns, No. 22 proved too be too much to handle down the stretch.

5. Penalties materialized as costly self-inflicted wounds for Seattle after halftime.

As coach Pete Carroll and players such as Jamal Adams and Bobby Wagner lamented after the contest, the Seahawks did too much damage to themselves drawing yellow laundry from officials. After only being penalized for 53 yards in the season opener, Seattle was flagged 10 times for 100 yards on Sunday, with several of those penalties extending drives for Tennessee. Discipline was a significant issue after halftime, starting with linebacker Jordyn Brooks receiving an unnecessary roughness penalty for hitting tight end MyCole Pruitt late out of bounds early in the third quarter. Moments later, Henry found the end zone for the first time and the Titans were off and running. Then in the fourth quarter, cornerback D.J. Reed received a controversial taunting penalty after a deep ball from Tannehill went over A.J. Brown's head, giving Tennessee 15 more free yards. Luckily, that particular penalty didn't lead to points, as Seattle got a fourth down stop four plays later. Unfortunately, the Seahawks made too many needless mistakes over the final two quarters and overtime to overcome against a talented, well-coached team and played a key role in the team's collapse.