SEATTLE — On their second possession of the game, the Tennessee Titans took a shot down the sideline, and Kendall Wright blew past Brandon Browner to catch a pass for a 32-yard gain.
On the very next play, Tennessee quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick again connected with Wright, who again was covered by Browner, giving the Titans another 11 yards. Those two plays helped set up a field goal, Tennessee’s only offensive score until they added another field goal late in the fourth quarter, and they were also apparently enough to convince Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll that Browner needed a break.
“They tilted some balls at him all of a sudden there, they were going after him,” Carroll said. “I just wanted to give him a break, that’s all.
When the Titans returned to the field, Walter Thurmond, not Browner, was Seattle’s right cornerback, and when the Seahawks brought a third corner on, that player was Byron Maxwell. At first that brought up the question of whether or not Browner was injured, but by late in the half he was standing on the sideline holding his helmet, clearly ready to play.
This was, it appeared, a benching.
“Just gave him a break,” Carroll explained. “We have plenty of guys to play, and I wanted to make sure we were fresh. I had a chance to talk to him about some of the stuff and was going in the first half. We were happy to put Walter in the game and give him his playtime, that’s all.”
Browner was back on the field for the final two plays of Tennessee’s last possession of the first half, then he took over in his usual role for the second half and was part of second-half defensive effort that saw the Titans gain just 71 yards through the air.
Browner looked a bit heated late in the first half as he paced the sideline, and asked what he told the Pro Bowler when he pulled him from the game, Carroll said, “I just told him we’re going to go with the other guy for a little bit here. I couldn’t wait to tell him at halftime that he was going back in to start the second half. He’s an excellent football player. He answered it and went at it and did a nice job in the second half.”