Sports Out West

Titans vs. Seahawks: Seattle defense shows it’s one of the best in the NFL

Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman (25) intercepts a pass intended for wide receiver Nate Washington, right, in the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 13, 2013, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Scott Eklund)

After being torched Week 5 by the Indianapolis Colts, the Seattle Seahawks defense figured to bounce back against a Tennessee Titans’ offense with zero run game and an injured starting quarterback.  It did that and more, leading the Seahawks to a victory and proving that the unit is one of the best in the NFL.

The Seahawks were locked in a struggle with the Titans or the majority of the game, with the score tied at 10-10 entering the fourth quarter. While the offense struggled for nearly three quarters, Seattle’s defense was absolutely shutting down Tennessee. The Titans were held to 223 total yards, including only 66 on the ground on 23 attempts. Ryan Fitzpatrick was also intercepted twice, including a key one by Richard Sherman late in the fourth quarter.  Marshawn Lynch and his 155 total yards provided just enough on offense for the Seahawks to win 20-13, but it was clearly the defense that won the game for Seattle.

Seven of the Titans’ 13 points were due to a special teams error, one of the most bizarre plays of the season in a game that was full of strangeness. With Steven Hauschka temporarily injured, punter Jon Ryan and backup holder Chris Maragos were forced into action on a short field goal on the last play of the first half. Maragos fumbled the snap, which Tennessee returned 77 yards for a touchdown and a 10-7 halftime lead.

It could not get anything consistent going against the Seahawks’ defense, which held the Titans out of the end zone for the entire game. The most impressive part of the unit’s play was how it adjusted early in the game. On Tennessee’s first few drives, the Seahawks were being beaten by Kendall Wright, a small, speedy receiver in the same vein as T.Y. Hilton, who had 179 yards against Seattle the previous week.

The Seahawks adjusted, as Wright finished with five catches for 69 yards, but only one in the second half, despite being targeted numerous times. Fitzpatrick was also scrambling for decent gains early on, but the Seahawks shut him down for the majority of the second half. That was important, as Chris Johnson again couldn’t get anything going for the Titans’ running game.

Along with the Kansas City Chiefs, the Seahawks are firmly in the discussion for having the best defense in the NFL. The impressive performance against the Titans came without star middle linebacker Bobby Wagner, who sat out with an ankle injury. Seattle is now holding opponents under 200 passing yards per game, and if the pass rush can improve, it is going to be extremely difficult to score on.

Another similar defensive battle could be coming this Thursday with a road game against the Arizona Cardinals. Before a rough Week 6 against the San Francisco 49ers, the Cardinals had been winning with defense and shutting down opposing rush offenses, which is Seattle’s clear strength. The defense might have to carry the Seahawks again, but if this week is any indication, the unit should be able to do it.

Photo Credit: Scott Eklund / Associated Press


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Nathaniel Reeves

Nathaniel Reeves is a journalism student at the University of Washington, currently covering sports for The UW Daily in addition to Sports Out West. He has been closely following Seattle sports his entire life.