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EPA Replay, Week 3: The 10 biggest plays from the Seahawks’ loss to the Titans

NFL: Seattle Seahawks at Tennessee Titans George Walker IV-USA TODAY Sports

Sunday’s Seahawks-Titans game was a tale of two halves. The first half saw little action until the final 75 seconds, when 10 of the half’s 16 points were scored. The second half saw an explosion of scoring with 6 total touchdowns scored: 3 for each team. The Titans would go on to win the game on the strength of the #1 and #2 biggest plays of the week, as shown below.

For an overview of EPA and this series, see my intro article here. Onto the plays:

#12. Q1 3-1 SEA 28: (4:37) Chris Carson right tackle to SEA 28 for no gain (W.Woodyard).

EPA:2.14. Score before play: SEA0, TEN0. SEA WP change: 52-> 46. TD% before: 40. TD% after: 29

I’m including a bonus play as it’s worth highlighting.

Regular listeners of The Fabulous Peltoncast will know that Kevin Pelton has been persistently complaining about Seattle’s determination to put a bunch of players at the point of attack in short yardage situations. At the end of this video, Kevin has a nice rant on fullbacks and tight formations (the whole video is a fun watch). Unfortunately, rushing into loaded boxes is not something that the team is good at.

#10. Q1 4-6 SEA 16: (9:58) (Punt formation) J.Ryan punts 58 yards to TEN 26, Center-T.Ott. A.Jackson to TEN 33 for 7 yards (M.Smith). PENALTY on TEN-T.Smith, Offensive Holding, 10 yards, enforced at TEN 26. Penalty on TEN-L.Sims, Offensive Holding, declined.

EPA:2.68. Score before play: SEA0, TEN0. SEA WP change: 41-> 51. TD% before: 18. TD% after: 30

The Seahawks punted from their own 16 and Tennessee would start their next possession on their own 16. That is 68 net yards and plus 10 percentage points in win probability. For a game that included seven touchdowns, having a punt make the top 10 plays is very impressive.

#9. Q3 2-9 TEN 10: (10:15) R.Wilson pass short middle to C.Carson for 10 yards, TOUCHDOWN [B.Orakpo].

EPA:2.72. Score before play: SEA7, TEN9. SEA WP change: 56-> 65. TD% before: 47. TD% after: 100

Russell Wilson does a nice job of getting rid of the ball after Rees Odhiambo gets blown by to start the play.

#8. Q4 4-6 TEN 46: (3:20) (Shotgun) R.Wilson pass short right to Tyler Lockett to TEN 32 for 14 yards (A.Jackson) [J.Casey].

EPA:2.76. Score before play: SEA20, TEN33. SEA WP change: 3-> 5. TD% before: 14. TD% after: 40

The right side of the line (left side of the screen) leaks on this 4th down play, with Oday Aboushi’s man going right past him and Germain Ifedi/Aboushi not handling the stunt well. Justin Britt barely saves this play at this last moment and gives Wilson the chance to do some Russell Wilson things.

#7. Q4 1-10 TEN 27: (14:06) R.Wilson pass deep right to Luke Willson for 27 yards, TOUCHDOWN.

EPA:2.80. Score before play: SEA14, TEN30. SEA WP change: 11-> 16. TD% before: 52. TD% after: 100

A beautiful pocket allows Wilson to fire to Willson, who is wide open due to a coverage bust.

#6. Q4 4-22 TEN 28: (7:20) (Shotgun) R.Wilson pass incomplete deep right to Jimmy Graham (L.Ryan) [J.Casey].

EPA:2.88. Score before play: SEA20, TEN33. SEA WP change: 9-> 6. TD% before: 10. TD% after: 16

A failed Hail Mary and not that interesting so I’m not including the replay here. The costly play in this series was the earlier intentional grounding, which is discussed in detail by Coleman Crawford here.

#5. Q2 1-10 MID 50: (1:58) (Shotgun) R.Wilson pass deep left to C.Prosise to TEN 4 for 46 yards (J.Brown).

EPA:2.89. Score before play: SEA0, TEN6. SEA WP change: 36-> 46. TD% before: 22. TD% after: 60

#4. Q4 2-8 TEN 8: (1:55) (Shotgun) R.Wilson pass short left to Paul Richardson for 8 yards, TOUCHDOWN [B.Orakpo].

EPA:3.01. Score before play: SEA20, TEN33. SEA WP change: 3-> 8. TD% before: 38. TD% after: 100

#3. Q2 3-4 TEN 4: (1:21) (Shotgun) R.Wilson pass short right to Doug Baldwin for 4 yards, TOUCHDOWN [D.Morgan].

EPA:3.24. Score before play: SEA0, TEN6. SEA WP change: 42-> 52. TD% before: 34. TD% after: 100

This seems like an exceptionally low-percentage play, but I guess when you have Wilson and Baldwin, anything is possible!

#2. Q3 2-7 TEN 45: (7:47) Marcus Mariota pass short left to R.Matthews for 55 yards, TOUCHDOWN. Penalty on SEA-Frank Clark, Defensive Offside, declined.

EPA:4.81. Score before play: TEN9, SEA14. SEA WP change: 61-> 45. TD% before: 40. TD% after: 100

Some of the mistakes on this play:

  1. Clark jumps offside
  2. Michael Wilhoite misses tackle at 50 yard line
  3. Kam Chancellor takes bad angle, gets blown by at 40 yard line
  4. Jeremy Lane overruns play; he, Kam, and K.J. Wright miss tackle at 15 yard line

#1. Q3 1-10 TEN 25: (1:49) D.Murray left end for 75 yards, TOUCHDOWN.

EPA:5.98. Score before play: TEN23, SEA14. SEA WP change: 18-> 8. TD% before: 34. TD% after: 100

If KJ were a step faster or Lane/Kam could have been stronger taking on their blocks, this could have been stopped for no gain.

Final thoughts

Reflecting how the game went, 7 of the top 9 plays here are from the 2nd half. While many have pointed to moving to an uptempo offense or unleashing Wilson as the reason for Seattle’s 2nd-half offensive improvement, I don’t think the explanation is that simple. As I have been pointing out on twitter, the Seahawks coaching staff put the offense in position to be similarly effective in the first half, but there were plays left on the field in nearly every drive.

While the overthrow of Baldwin is an obvious example (2nd drive: 3 and out), there is also Richardson dropping a pass on 2nd and 10 (1st drive: 3 and out), Wilson failing to see a wide open Lockett on 3rd down (also on the 2nd drive), and Richardson not catching this 3rd and 10 ball (5th drive: 3 and out). Add in failing to convert a 3rd and 1 (4th drive: 3 and out), and that’s 4 different first half drives that were 3 and outs but could have gone very differently (drives 1, 2, 4, and 5).