NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Sunday, the former bullies became the bullied. It wasn't long ago that the Seattle Seahawks were beating teams the way the Tennessee Titans beat them on Sunday, a complete performance anchored by a demoralizing rushing game and a confident quarterback.
It was arguably the most impressive win in the young smashmouth Titans era, given the opponent and method of victory. The Titans gained confidence throughout the first half, and then an explosive third quarter showed the identity of what this team wants to be. The Titans held on after a late Seahawks rally for a 33-27 win.
DeMarco Murray looked healthier than he has all season in running for 115 yards, including a winding 75-yard touchdown set up by great blocks and vision. The offensive line completely shut down the Seahawks' defensive front. Marcus Mariota played smart, winning football and finished 20-of-32 for 225 yards and two touchdowns, with no turnovers.
What it means: The Titans are who we thought they were. A season-opening loss at home to the Raiders may have rattled some confidence, but back-to-back wins over the Jaguars and Seahawks re-establish them as the trendy newcomer among AFC contenders. They took some haymakers on Sunday and responded with more consistent jabs and hooks.
What I liked: Despite first-half struggles (17 carries for 30 yards), Tennessee refused to abandon the run game. It finally got the big one to pop with Murray's long touchdown. That was the longest run against the Seahawks since 2009, before Pete Carroll took over as head coach. Tennessee's offensive line wore down the Seahawks' defense. The Titans finished with 195 rushing yards, more than the Seahawks allowed in any game last season.
What I didn’t like: For the second straight week, a strong defensive performance got spoiled by some late touchdowns. Tennessee has to finish off opponents a little better on that side of the ball. Seattle scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter and kept fighting until the end. The Titans allowed a previously struggling Russell Wilson to throw for 373 yards and four touchdowns. Also, the late hit by Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman on Mariota isn't what this league needs.
Fantasy fallout: This was supposed to be a big week for Derrick Henry after Murray didn't do much due to his hamstring injury. Henry had a decent day for a backup back -- 64 total yards -- but it was Murray who rewarded fantasy owners. Henry may be a touchdown-dependent flex option if Murray remains healthy. Rishard Matthews, a consistent clutch target for Mariota, had a big fantasy day with six catches for 87 yards and a touchdown. He should be worthy of a start while Corey Davis (hamstring) is out.
Rookie impact: It won't show up on the stat sheet, but Adoree' Jackson is a legitimate weapon as a returner. He had a punt-return touchdown called back on a questionable call for a block in the back, but he's a natural as a returner. He's a good bet to take one or more to the house this season.
What’s next: The Titans get a chance to solidify their spot as the AFC South's best team on the road against the defending division champion Houston Texans. It's another test of winning games in the division, which has been a problem in previous seasons. Deshaun Watson presents another headache as a running quarterback.