Some Seahawks fans will get to tell their grandchildren about how they watched the team win their first Super Bowl in-person.
Others might reminisce about witnessing the BeastQuake or The Tip or the miracle comeback vs. Green Bay in the NFC Championship Game.
Sunday’s Lumen Field attendees were fed some history as well, although a much less appetizing helping: They witnessed one of the biggest choke jobs in the Pete Carroll era.
The Titans will likely view their 33-30 overtime win as poise personified. They will point to their comeback as evidence that they are unshakable and never out of a game.
And though there were certainly shining moments for Tennessee — which finished with 532 yards of offense — this was primarily an act of charity on the part of the Seahawks. Simply put: They gave it away.
“Most difficult loss for us today,” said Carroll, the Seahawks head coach. “We did so many good things and then we really hurt ourselves just too many times when you’re playing a good team. The penalties were just so costly, so many first downs on penalties when we really had control over the situation, and it was really unfortunate that we weren’t poised enough.”
When the Seahawks (1-1) entered halftime with a 24-9 advantage, a victory seemed all but guaranteed. After all, the last time they blew a lead of 15 points or more after halftime was against the Rams in 2004. And when the Seahawks led 30-16 with 13:16 left in the game, a victory seemed even more inevitable. After all, NFL Next Gen Stats gave the Titans just a 4% chance of winning at that point.
But Sunday, there was something different about the Seahawks, who were given plenty of gifts throughout the afternoon. A team known for its near invincibility when holding second-half leads became the epitome of self-destruction.
Carroll, who is generally upbeat no matter what the result, seemed unusually down in his postgame news conference. These types of losses will have that effect.
About two hours before that news conference, the Seahawks caught a major break when the officials overturned a touchdown catch by Titans receiver Julio Jones, who was ruled out of bounds. Replay and photos made such an overrule seem unlikely, but it happened. Then, following a Tennessee field goal, the Seahawks marched 75 yards down field in the final minute of the half to score a touchdown and take that 15-point lead.
Here’s how they blew it.
First, the Titans took it to Seattle’s 43-yard line on their first drive of the second half, when quarterback Ryan Tannehill connected with MyCole Pruitt for 15 yards on second-and-12. That wasn’t great, but linebacker Jordyn Brooks’ unnecessary roughness penalty on that same play advanced the ball to Seattle’s 14. Two plays later, Tennessee running back Derrick Henry scored on a 9-yard run.
The Seahawks answered two possessions later thanks to the Titans’ blown coverage, which allowed QB Russell Wilson to hit a wide open Freddie Swain for a 68-yard TD. And even though kicker Jason Myers missed the PAT, the Seahawks still enjoyed a 14-point lead in the fourth … for about a minute.
On the second play of the next Titans drive, an over-aggressive Seahawks defense allowed Henry to get into the open field, then stiff-arm safety Quandre Diggs en route to a 60-yard score.
More embarrassments followed. There was cornerback D.J. Reed’s taunting penalty in the fourth quarter, which turned a third-down incompletion into a first down for the Titans. There was safety Jamal Adams’ roughing-the-passer penalty in overtime, which also turned a third-down incompletion into a Tennessee first down. Amazingly, the Titans didn’t score on either of those drives — but they cost the Seahawks time and field position, which altered the course of the game.
As for those usual Wilson heroics? They were absent in the second half. Both of his passes in overtime were overthrown, and he was sacked on the half-yard line on third down, which led to a punt, which led to the Titans starting their next drive on Seattle’s 39, which led to a 36-yard field goal to end the game.
“I don’t think any of us expected to lose a game like that, especially with the history of just being here and fourth-quarter wins and how we fight,” said Seahawks receiver Tyler Lockett, who finished with 178 receiving yards on eight catches. “But when you’re getting three-and-outs and we’re getting flags and stuff like that, it almost goes back to us shooting ourselves in the foot.”
Three-and-outs. Stupid penalties. A matador defense. A nonexistent second-half offense. A missed extra point. And ultimately, the biggest regular-season choke of an era.
Much to their chagrin, fans saw history Sunday. The Seahawks’ mission now? Get back on track and make it ancient history.