The Titans turned unstoppable, scoring on four consecutive drives to take a 33-20 lead early in the fourth quarter — at that point Tennessee had scored on seven of eight drives, all of 47 yards or longer.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — For about two quarters Sunday, the Seahawks looked like themselves — the offense was struggling while the defense was keeping the game close, a formula that looked like it might be just enough once again.
Then, in a dizzying and ultimately dismaying second half, they became almost unrecognizable.
A defense that includes eight players who have a Pro Bowl and has created a legacy as one of the best in NFL history was run through and passed over by the Titans, who in one stretch scored on seven of eight possessions, all on drives of 47 yards or longer.
“Surprisingly uncharacteristic,’’ said Seahawks coach Pete Carroll.
As the defense fell apart, the offense finally came together, scoring touchdowns on three drives of 72 yards or longer in the second half with another of 86 to end the first half.
But the hole created during Tennessee’s offensive onslaught — the Titans scored 24 points in a span of 15:09 in the second half — proved too much.
Tennessee not only beat Seattle 33-27, but the Titans dropped the Seahawks to 1-2 with a second road defeat already this season. It came despite Seattle’s vain efforts at a comeback at the end.
And it left quarterback Russell Wilson insisting afterward that everything will still turn out just fine.
“It wasn’t going to be easy,’’ Wilson said. “Tennessee is a great football team. They are going to be really good all year long. … I don’t think we have to go searching anywhere like we are not a good football team or thinking any thoughts like that. We are a great football team. We played a great team today. … There’s no panic in this room. We have been through it all. We just have to continue to believe in what we are doing and how we are doing it. We just have to continue to stay the course and we believe that it will happen for us.’’
It looked like it might Sunday when Wilson first led an 86-yard drive to put Seattle up 7-6 late in the first half and then a 75-yarder to start the second half and put the Seahawks up 14-9.
But then came three Tennessee touchdowns on three consecutive possessions, all on big plays.
The first was a 55-yard pass from Marcus Mariota to Rishard Matthews on a play when Seattle’s Frank Clark jumped offsides. That gave the Titans a free play and appeared to maybe distract the Seahawks, who seemed to be waiting for a whistle. Instead, Mariota threw a short pass to Matthews who broke free for the touchdown.
“Although we practice that constantly there is a mental moment in there that you can relax,’’ Carroll said. “You think they are going to blow the whistle and they didn’t.’’
It was the second time this season an opponent has scored on a free play with Green Bay doing it in Week 1 on a 32-yard Aaron Rodgers pass to Jordy Nelson.
Then came a 24-yard pass from Mariota to tight end Jonnu Smith, who lined up as fullback on the play and blew past linebacker Michael Wilhoite and into the open for an easy score.
“We missed coverage on the wheel route,’’ Carroll said. “It was a clear responsibility.’’
Then came the stunner — a 75-yard touchdown gallop by DeMarco Murray on a play that began looking like not much and turned into the longest run the Seahawks have allowed under Carroll.
DeMarco Murray’s 75-yard touchdown run was the longest allowed by the Seattle defense since Frank Gore had an 80-yarder against the Seahawks in 2009. That was before Pete Carroll was hired in January 2010.
K.J. Wright and Kam Chancellor missed chances to get Murray near the line of scrimmage and he then wove his way down the field, outrunning Jeremy Lane and Richard Sherman into the end zone to put Tennessee ahead 30-14.
“The tackling in the midst of that breakaway — we were in the right mode to get him down,’’ Carroll said. “He outran us. He outdid us and we need to be better than that.’’
Players didn’t argue that point.
“Just got to get back to playing together, playing sound ball, taking it one play at a time,’’ Chancellor said.
Then Chancellor said maybe the team had wasted too much energy during a sometimes contentious first half that featured Sherman arguing with officials over a pass interference call and then Sherman almost igniting a brawl with a sideline hit of Mariota.
“Eliminating the frustration,’’ Chancellor said of what needs to happen. “Eliminating the bickering with other teams, eliminating the extra exertion of energy that we don’t need. Need to conserve the energy for each play so your brains can think. That, and just tackling better.’’
What defensive players didn’t use as an excuse was how long they were on the field early — the Seattle offense punted after its first six possessions — and the fact it was 88 degrees at kickoff.
“Fatigue shouldn’t be an issue,’’ said Wright. “We just can’t let it. No matter how long we are out there, we’ve got to finish. Man up and find a way to get off the field.’’
Tennessee’s 195 yards rushing were more than the Seahawks gave up in any game since 2013. Last season they led the NFL in allowing just 3.4 yards per carry. Seattle is allowing 5.3 yards per carry this season.
“I think we played a really good game until a couple of busted plays,’’ insisted defensive lineman Michael Bennett. “We jumped offsides more than we needed to. The plays they scored on us were pretty much just miscommunication and in the wrong position and I think those are things we can bounce back from. …
“We can go back to the tape and see it wasn’t something physical, it wasn’t like we were dominated, it was just miscommunication, a lack of concentration, and those are things we can go back and fix and that’s what we are going to do.’’
|Defense vs. offense|
|Seattle’s offense finally came to life Sunday, but the defense wilted in the Tennessee heat.|
|Game||Defensive yards allowed||Offensive yards by Seahawks|
|At Green Bay (LOSS)||370||225|
|San Francisco (WIN)||248||312|
|At Tennessee (LOSS)||420||433|