Seahawks Improve Playoff Chances by Rallying to Beat the Titans
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Seattle Seahawks are winning when it matters most, and they've put themselves right back in the mix for a playoff berth.
Geno Smith threw his second touchdown pass of the fourth quarter on a 5-yarder to Colby Parkinson with 57 seconds left and the Seahawks more than kept their playoff hopes alive by beating the Tennessee Titans 20-17 Sunday for their second straight victory.
The Seahawks (8-7) still need to win out to clinch their second consecutive playoff berth. But Minnesota's loss to Detroit moved Seattle into the NFC's seventh and last playoff berth with two games remaining.
“It's an exciting win for us, and the belief in this locker room is strong that we can take on whatever we got to take on,” Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. “We’ll have our wits together and execute function no matter how long it takes. That’s a powerful trait. So hopefully we can hang onto that.”
The Seahawks started slowly after beating Philadelphia on Monday night and traveling cross country for the early kickoff. Smith, who missed the past two games with an injured groin, gave the Seahawks their first lead at 13-10 when he found DK Metcalf in the left corner for an 11-yard TD with 12:10 left.
After Derrick Henry put Tennessee back up 17-13 with a 2-yard TD run with 3:21 left, Smith responded. He drove the Seahawks 75 yards over 14 plays with a TD pass inside the final minute just as Drew Lock did against the Eagles to win by the same score.
“I’m thinking just like last week," Smith said of Seattle's final drive. "Drew did a great job last week, and we had a chance to match it this week. As I’m going out there, I’m not thinking about anything else beside the situation.”
Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner said Smith did a good job in his return, and they now control their own destiny.
“We just need to take it one game at a time,” Wagner said.
Tennessee had a final chance. But Boye Mafe had two of Seattle's six sacks, including one to start the Titans' last drive. Ryan Tannehill hit Colton Dowell for a 3-yard pass as the rookie ran out of bounds. Officials kept the clock going, and the final seconds ticked off without another play.
Eliminated from the playoffs last week, the Titans (5-10) lost consecutive games for the third time this season. They have lost at least 10 games for a second straight season for the first time since 2014-15.
Henry also threw a 12-yard TD pass to Chig Okonkwo. The Titans outgained Seattle 287-273 and held the ball for nearly 34 minutes.
“If you care, it won’t be easy to shake it,” Henry said of a seventh loss by eight points or fewer this season.
Tennessee played without seven starters — five on defense after placing two-time Pro Bowl lineman Jeffery Simmons on injured reserve Saturday and safety Amani Hooker.
Tannehill made his first start since spraining his right ankle on Oct. 15, filling in for rookie Will Levis who left last week's overtime loss late with a sprained left ankle. Titans right guard Daniel Brunskill also was out with an injured ankle, leaving the Titans leaning on lots of players new to the team.
“There are no moral victories in life,” Titans coach Mike Vrabel said. “There are no moral victories in professional football.”
The Titans came in with the NFL’s stingiest unit inside the red zone, allowing TDs on only 37.25% of such drives. They held the Seahawks to a pair of field goals by Jason Myers after getting inside the Tennessee 10, the second on their first drive of the third quarter to pull within 10-6.
Nick Folk extended his NFL record to 78 consecutive made field goals of 40 yards or closer with a 33-yarder in the second quarter, giving Tennessee a 10-3 halftime lead.
Seattle wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba finished the game after hitting his left knee on a piece of exposed concrete at the back wall early in the second quarter. Linebacker Jordyn Brooks hurt the same ankle he sprained two weeks ago against San Francisco.
Defensive end Dre’Mont Jones went down late. Left guard Damien Lewis twisted a knee for the Seahawks.
Titans wide receiver Chris Moore returned after being hit by Julian Love. Linebacker Caleb Murphy hurt a shoulder, and rookie running back Tyjae Spears returned after a trip to the medical tent. Left tackle Jaelyn Duncan didn't return after hurting a wrist.
The Seahawks host Pittsburgh on Sunday.
The Titans visit Houston on Sunday in their second matchup in three weeks.