Titans wear down Seattle’s defense in first half, dominate them in the second

Photo Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel/USA TODAY Sports – Music City Miracles

Seattle’s (1-2) offense started slow for the third straight game and it proved costly as the defense was worn out during the second half of the 33-27 loss to Tennessee (2-1) on Sunday.

Tennessee would extend its lead when rookie Jonnu Smith faked a block, then ran down field with no defenders around him; Mariota would quickly target his wide open tight end for a 24-yard touchdown to increase the Titans lead to 11-points.. On the play immediately preceding the touchdown, cornerback Jeremy Lane was flagged for defensive holding when he wrapped his arms around the Titans’ defender to give them an automatic first down. This drive is where it became apparent that the Seahawks defense was worn down as Tennessee’s offensive line took control of the line of scrimmage and opened up some big holes for its running game.

Seattle’s offense would go three and out as the offensive line failed to keep the pocket clean and give Wilson anytime to work his way through his reads on the ensuing drive. On Tennessee’s first play after the punt, Demarco Murray would rip off a 75-yard touchdown run by bouncing outside and simply out running Seattle’s linebackers while his wideouts successfully blocked the Hawks’ defensive backs down field.

The Hawks offense would score quickly on their next offensive possession when Wilson would perfectly place the ball where only Luke Willson was going to catch it at the goal line. Unfortunately the two point conversion attempt would fall incomplete when Paul Richardson was unable to pull in the pass, the Seahawks trailed by two possessions early in the final quarter.

Tennessee would widen their lead to 13 after an eight play drive that was capped off by a 35-yard field goal. The Titans would chew nearly four minutes off of the during the drive, which limited the time Seattle had for a comeback while continuing to wear out the defense.

The Seahawks would score a late touchdown when Wilson found Paul Richardson underneath on a slant route for an eight-yard touchdown pass with  1:50 left in the game. But the drive consumed three minutes and 19 seconds before they punched it in, which left the Seahawks with no other choice but to kick the onside kick. Unforuntately, the Titans recovered and then ran out the clock…despite Seattle using its two timeouts.

Wilson would make a statement on Seattle’s first drive of the second half as he complete his first four passes to march the offense down the field for its second touchdown of the game. The big play that set-up the touchdown was a 26-yard pass that hit Jimmy Graham on the seam route. Two plays later running back Chris Carson caught the dump off pass and then beat two linebackers during his 10-yard run to the end zone — he also carried the ball five times during the same drive for 20-yards — to give Seattle a 14-9 lead.

Mariota responded by hitting Rishard Matthews on a quick wide receiver screen, that Matthews would take 55-yards to the house. The six-year veteran used a mixture of speed and agility to separate himself from Seattle’s defenders on his way to the end zone. Matthews’ touchdown would give the Titans a 16-14 lead midway through the third quarter.

Doug Baldwin would catch his first touchdown of the season an insane diving catch at the goal line on a ball that was thrown at his feet. The play started to breakdown, but Wilson was able to find his favorite target when he came back to the goal line to give the Hawks a 7-6 lead.

Tennessee would respond with an eight play drive to retake the lead with a 47-yard field goal as time expired in the first half.

Seattle was lucky to head into halftime trailing the Titans by only two because they had an 80-yard punt return for a touchdown nullified by a questionable block in the back. Cornerback Shaquille Griffin was hip checked after the ball was caught, the hip check drew a personal foul for an illegal block below the waist. Tennessee would go four and out to turn the ball over to the Seahawks.

It was a tight, defensive, battle in the first quarter that saw both teams swap punts. With Seattle’s second drive of the game being where the first down was picked up by either team. The offensive lines were outclassed by the defense’s, as a result both Wilson and Mariota were constantly forced out of their respective pockets.

But it would be the Titans that would string together the first scoring drive game when Mariota marched his offense down the field in 10 plays to cap the team off by a 24-yard field goal. It was during this drive that Richard Sherman held, and was flagged, for defensive holding that nullified a Kam Chancellor interception on a slightly overthrown pass from Mariota. Tennessee would capitalize on the questionable flag to take an early 3-0 lead early in the second quarter.

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