Sunshine, big lead, innovative offense, resolute defense, mistake-free special teams, tra-la, tra-la.
Following a 48-second touchdown drive that covered 75 yards, the Seahawks went into halftime up 24-9 as the first sellout crowd since 2019 offered them a riotous salute that evoked the old audio disruptions.
“It might have been,” said Titans safety Kevin Byard, “the loudest stadium I’ve ever played in.”
The only thing missing was an awareness that a good Tennessee Titans team just played six consecutive crappy quarters to start the 2021 season — they lost 38-13 to Arizona in the home opener — and was pissed as hell.
“Guys were turned up,” Byard said of the halftime mood. “I think we weren’t proud of how we played in that first half.”
Said Derrick Henry, the Herculean running back: “The fans were relentless for this organization and city. I don’t think anyone expected us to come here and get a W.”
A classic episode of NFL 101: On any given Sunday.
“I hate this,” coach Pete Carroll said. ” I hate having to . . . 24-9 at halftime, come on.”
The way the 33-30 overtime loss (box) — the first home-opening loss in 13 years — went down was a betrayal of numerous commandments in the Book of First Carrollians: Winning in the fourth quarter, exploiting the home advantage, controlling the clock with offensive balance, opportunistic defense, disciplined play.
Above all, the oft-stated regard for each game as a championship opportunity.
The Seahawks finished as if the game had been won at the half. That’s not championship ball, nor is it the game of Russell Wilson.
The offense scored six points the rest of the way, including overtime. The defense gave up 299 yards and 24 points in the second half, gaining no turnovers.
For the game, Seattle surrendered a ghastly 100 yards on 10 penalties. Add that to the 532 yards of offense, and it was remarkable than the Titans won by only an overtime field goal. And that was done despite missing two starting linemen for most of the game.
“You give a good team that much, they keep hanging,” said a downcast Carroll, soft-spoken and sometimes mumbling. “They’re tough. They got great players and a terrific approach to the game.”
Most galling were the fouls, especially personal fouls, for which he took responsibility.
“Sometimes I get these guys so fricking crazy that they’re just going out after it,” he said. “It was really unfortunate that we weren’t poised enough, and I totally take that on myself.
“We have to handle the situations so that we get the benefits of all of the good play. We gave them way too much stuff.”
Carroll benched LB Jordyn Brooks after he continued a tackle way out of bounds. But he didn’t bench SS Jamal Adams when he hit QB Ryan Tannehill in the head, or when WR DK Metcalf drew two pouty penalties on one play.
Carroll’s attempts to take responsibility is what good leaders do. But here, it’s misplaced. These guys know better and have to be held to account apart from any mentoring oversights.
Accountability includes Wilson. Though he committed no fouls and had by most standards a very good game — 22 of 31 for 343 yards,two touchdowns, no turnovers and a rating of 128.8 — on the game’s final two possessions, he was three for seven with a 12-yard sack that averted being a game-ending safety thanks only to a generous spot at the one-yard line.
His teammates let him down frequently. But he’s had that happen before. This time, he came up empty.
Carroll said only the final possession in OT, which started on the Seattle 10 “were the only three plays that I thought were really of question, that we didn’t handle those three plays as well as we needed to. We messed that sequence up and made it really easy for them (with a short punt and good return, to score). So, disappointed in that sequence, but that was it.”
The more surprising development occurred earlier, when Titans coach Mike Vrabel, after 12-play, 68-yard drive ended with a one-yard touchdown run by Henry to close to 30-29 with 29 seconds left, made the decision to kick the PAT to tie, rather than running Henry for what seemed likely to be a game-winning two-point conversion.
He didn’t kick because he was more confident that his defense could stop Wilson, one of the greatest masters of late play in NFL history, in regulation and overtime.
“I just felt like the way that the defense was playing, no, just decided early on that’s what we were going to do as far as kicking it,” he said. He was right.
The game had to fall again upon Wilson’s heroics, because the Seahawks couldn’t run the ball (RB Chris Carson had 31 yards) and the defense predictably found no way to stop Henry consistently.
His 182 rushing yards tied for the most yards by a Seahawks opponent (Adrian Peterson, 2012), and he also caught a career-high six passes for 55 yards.
LB Bobby Wagner, who set a franchise record with 20 tackles, was as impressed as everyone else.
“Once he gets going,” he said, “and once the offensive coordinator gets a good feeling about getting him the rock, he’s very talented, a very special player. He showed that today.”
The Seahawks knew what was coming with Henry, the NFL rushing leader last season. The Titans had to be outscored. It worked for a half. Then the Seahawks eased.
Said Seahawks receiver Tyler Lockett, whose 178 receiving yards on eight catches went to waste: “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.”
It’s why the NFL is the world’s most successful sport. As is learned weekly, nothing can be assumed.