“We screwed that up.” – Pete Carroll on 710 ESPN
The Seahawks’ first two games have taken the fans on an emotional rollercoaster. They had everyone’s hopes up after a great Week 1 win in Indianapolis, only to follow that up with one of the worst home losses of Russell Wilson’s career.
The pathetic 33-30 overtime loss to Tennessee was right down there with Washington in 2017 and the Giants in 2020 for Wilson’s worst home setbacks.
The Seahawks were outplayed and outcoached in a game that almost surely will come back to haunt them when home field is on the line later in the season. In the meanwhile, the Hawks were the lone team in the NFC West to lose in the first two weeks, so they sit at the bottom of the stacked division right now (the 49ers and Rams are on the docket in Weeks 4 and 5).
The Hawks should not have lost this game. They were one of the three best picks among NFL games this week. But they blew a ton of positive streaks Sunday.
They lost their home opener for the first time in Carroll’s 12 seasons. This also was just the fourth time the Seahawks lost after leading by 15 points at halftime. The last was in 2004. The franchise had been 52-0 at home when up by 15. And this was just the second time Carroll’s clubs had blown a 14-point fourth-quarter lead.
The Hawks got pummeled in the running game on both sides, leading to a lopsided time of possession, and committed a bunch of penalties that kept Tennessee in the game. Derrick Henry whooped them, and they played offense a lot like they did in the second half of 2020 while not getting any pressure on Ryan Tannehill in the second half, even though Tennessee was down two starting linemen.
Because of a 212-77 rushing disadvantage and 4-for-12 third-down win rate on offense, the Hawks had the ball for just 22:42 of 65:15 game time – i.e., Tennessee had it twice as long.
The Seahawks really focused on Henry in the first half, holding him to 35 yards on 13 carries as they played a lot of base defense and 5-2 fronts (they were in nickel on just 35 of 88 plays in the game). But he broke out in the second half as Seattle’s defense wore down after being on the field so long.
The Seahawks’ took a 24-9 lead on a flurry of big plays but otherwise sustained no offense and let Henry run all over them in the second half, when he gained 147 of his 182 rushing yards. He also had a career-high six catches for 55 yards, so he amassed 237 of Tennessee’s 532 yards.
Henry’s 182 rushing yards tied for the most the Seahawks have allowed in a game under Carroll.
The Hawks also committed 10 penalties for 100 yards – with half of those coming on defense and helping the Titans score 13 points. The Titans got six first downs by penalty (Seattle had just two). Benson Mayowa’s third-down offsides in the first quarter kept alive a drive that ended in a field goal. Robert Nkemdiche’s roughing foul helped the Titans score their second field goal. Jordyn Brooks was briefly benched after hitting MyCole Pruitt out of bounds, giving Tennessee an extra 15 yards in Seattle territory for the TD that cut Seattle’s lead to 24-16 (Cody Barton was called for holding on that drive as well).
Fans are upset with the nitpicky taunting call against D.J. Reed, but that ended up having no bearing on the outcome. Seattle stopped Tennessee on fourth down on that fourth-quarter drive, and Seattle then bumbled its way to a three-and-out. Tennessee drove to the tying TD on the next drive.
Other than that taunting call, the Seahawks deserved every penalty they got. But they also got some help from referee John Hussey, who incorrectly overturned a first-half touchdown by Julio Jones, whose heel may or may not have come down out of bounds. The call should have stood because it was not conclusive enough to take it away. If it had, the Hawks would have lost this game in regulation.
Seattle’s offense was stagnant almost the entire game, as Shane Waldron’s calls looked no different than his predecessor’s. Seattle ran the ball on first down eight times and gained just 28 yards – part of a paltry 77-yard rushing day.
As it often has in the past, Seattle relied on big passes to move the ball; Wilson hit three throws of 50 yards or longer, including touchdowns to Tyler Lockett and Freddie Swain covering over 60 yards.
Waldron did not use his tight ends or the middle of the field – hallmarks of Wilson’s previous offenses. If not for the big plays and a quick drive to end the first half, Seattle would not even have been in the game.
“Rhythm escaped us through the course of that game,” Carroll told 710 ESPN. “We never really found our way.”
The Hawks also were outcoached on both sides of the ball by Mike Vrabel and his staff.
Lockett said the Titans used cornerback blitzes they don’t normally use and made other adjustments in the second half to shut down Seattle’s offense.
Jamal Adams said the Titans went up tempo on offense later in the game, making it hard for the Seahawks to substitute on third down. He said the Titans “knew what we could throw at them.”
The lack of a four-man pass rush in the second half was notable. Alton Robinson had a strip sack at the end of the first half, setting up a TD for Seattle. But the rush was not very effective overall, even with the Titans missing left tackle Taylor Lewan (who hurt himself in warmups) and losing left guard Rodger Saffold to an injury as well.
“We really thought that we would get more pressure, just watching what happened last week,” Carroll said, “but they did a nice job, and we didn’t do as well as we needed to.”
On the back end, Tre Flowers had a terrible day. He was burned by Julio Jones and A.J. Brown multiple times, and he whiffed on stopping Henry on his 60-yard TD run in the early fourth quarter (the Titans caught Seattle blitzing and Henry took advantage, running past Flowers, who had a bad angle and whiffed on the dive).
Carroll and Ken Norton Jr. will have to hope Sidney Jones is ready to step up at corner, or the Seahawks will have big trouble with good receivers the rest of the way, starting with Minnesota in Week 3.
On 710 ESPN today, Carroll said Jones and fellow newbie Bless Austin are working at practice to see “where they fit.” Carroll said Jones is ready to play now; “we’ll see how it goes.” Rookie Tre Brown will be back after Week 3 as well, Carroll said.
The Seahawks are not talking to Richard Sherman “right now,” Carroll said.
The only standout on a really bad day for the team was Lockett, who continued his awesome start to the season with a 51-yard catch and a 63-yard TD. He scored a 69-yard TD in Week 1, making him the fourth receiver since 1990 to record multiple 60-yard scores in the first two games (the others: Steve Smith in 2007, Randy Moss in 2005 and Jerry Rice in 1991).
As bad as this meltdown loss was, there is no reason to panic. The Seahawks have a history of bouncing back from bad losses. In 2017, after that Washington debacle, they went to Arizona and won on a Thursday. Last year, after their loss to the Giants, they won their final four games.
As Jamal Adams said, “We OK, man. This ain’t the end of the world. It’s one game.”
**Dee Eskridge “has a real good chance to come back and play” this week.
**Bryan Mone’s triceps injury is “pretty significant” and Carroll lamented missing him against Henry.
**Brandon Shell’s MRI on his ankle did not show serious injury, Carroll said, but his status for this week is up in the air.