Seahawks' uncharacteristic collapse lessens margin for error in tough NFC West

SEATTLE -- With a hushed voice and a downward gaze, Bobby Wagner mixed frustration and perspective in his postgame news conference on Sunday.

The Seattle Seahawks' 10th-year veteran and defensive captain has been around long enough to know that seasons aren't made or broken in Week 2. He also has been around long enough to know that the Seahawks usually don't do what they did in a 33-30 overtime loss to the Tennessee Titans.

It wasn't just that they fell at home as six-point favorites.

The real surprise was how they lost -- by faltering in the fourth quarter.

"It's definitely not a great feeling," said Wagner, who was in no mood to celebrate his franchise-record 20 tackles, "but it's something that we can learn from. It's early in the season, so we have to watch this film and get better."

The Seahawks (1-1) have been one of the NFL's best finishing teams under Pete Carroll, especially since Wagner and Russell Wilson arrived in 2012. That's what made it so surprising to see them allow 17 unanswered points to finish the game, turning what looked like a runaway victory into an overtime defeat.

"We did so many good things, and then we really hurt ourselves just too many times when you're playing a good team," Carroll said.

The collapse started when Jason Myers missed the extra point after Wilson's touchdown pass to Freddie Swain put the Seahawks up 30-16 early in the fourth quarter. It continued when they allowed Derrick Henry to break loose for a 60-yard touchdown run, the second of his three scores.

And this time, they didn't have any late magic from Wilson to bail them out, either on the last drive of regulation -- when they took over with only 24 seconds remaining after Carroll curiously declined to use either of their last two timeouts as Tennessee ran the clock down en route to the tying score -- or when they meekly went three-and-out on their lone possession of OT.

Carroll acknowledged that his clock management at the end of regulation could have been better.

A lot of things could have been better.

"You know, sometimes s--- just happens, man," Seattle strong safety Jamal Adams said. "Sometimes, it just happens that way. That's a phenomenal group. You talk about their offense on paper: Julio [Jones], Derrick Henry, A.J. Brown, [Ryan] Tannehill. I mean, the list goes on and on of great, phenomenal players on that side. So let's not act like we didn't play a good offense. They executed. We didn't."

Stuff does happen against good teams. It just doesn't often happen to the Seahawks like this.

According to ESPN Stats & Information research, Henry's 182 rushing yards were tied for the most the Seahawks have allowed in a game under Carroll, matching what Adrian Peterson gained in 2012.

And this was only the second time the Seahawks lost at home when leading by at least 14 points in the fourth quarter since they moved into their current stadium in 2002. The only other time was a loss to the Rams in 2004, six years before Carroll took over.

Those would have been the St. Louis Rams. And that would have been at the erstwhile Qwest Field, which has since undergone two name changes.

Yeah, it has been a while since the Seahawks lost a game like this.

Adding to the disappointment of this fourth-quarter collapse: It ruined what should have been the feel-good story of Seattle's home opener as fans -- 68,585 of them -- returned to Lumen Field after COVID-19 kept them away last season.

It's fair to wonder if the Seahawks were a little too amped up Sunday, as they played their first regular-season game in front of their home crowd in 630 days. They committed 10 penalties for 100 yards, including three for 29 in the fourth quarter. Adams was flagged for roughing Tannehill on a third-down incompletion in overtime. Jordyn Brooks was briefly benched after a late hit out of bounds in the third quarter.

"I hate this," Carroll said. "[It was] 24-9 at halftime. Come on. We took care of the ball all day long, did a great job with the football and wound up plus [in turnover differential] and give the game away. It had to be other really big things which happened, which were the penalties and ... the two hits on the quarterback. Those were huge plays for them. And the out-of-bounds [hit] is unnecessary. They're just unnecessary things that happened. We need to be better than that. I need to be better. I need to help our guys be better than that."

Despite those mistakes, the Seahawks had what they wanted on their last drive: one more chance with the ball in the hands of the quarterback who has led more comebacks in the fourth quarter or overtime than anyone since 2012.

The second play of their three-and-out was an incomplete throw to DK Metcalf, who was too physically compromised to make a play on the ball. Carroll said postgame that he might have banged his knee. Right tackle Brandon Shell was on the sideline by then, having suffered an ankle sprain of unknown severity near the end of regulation.

If a bad loss and two potentially bad injuries weren't enough, all this came on a day in which the Los Angeles Rams, San Francisco 49ers and Arizona Cardinals all won to improve to 2-0. The first two weeks have done nothing to dispel the belief that the NFC West might be the league's toughest division.

A nonconference loss in Week 2 isn't going to sink the Seahawks' season. But given how tough their division looks, dropping a game they should have won does lessen their margin for error the rest of the way.

"I don't think that any of us expected to lose a game like that, especially with the history of just being here and the fourth-quarter wins and how we fight," said wideout Tyler Lockett, who continued his strong start with eight catches for 178 yards and his third touchdown in two games.

"I think for us, like I said, it's a learning experience. Not everything is going to go your way. Sometimes, you're gonna get knocked down."