Seahawks prove themselves in narrow escape against Broncos
The Seahawks made it hard on themselves in this Super Bowl rematch but then proved they were the better team by winning the game in overtime.
Times staff columnist
So the current, high-stakes version of the Seahawks-Broncos rivalry does have a competitive side. It just took seven quarters — and ample Seattle benevolence — to surface.
Entering the fourth quarter Sunday, this supposed rematch of the Seahawks’ 43-8 Super Bowl XLVIII domination seemed more like affirmation of the reigning champion’s greatness. The score was 17-3. The running score over seven quarters was 60-11. Denver quarterback Peyton Manning, a five-time league MVP, had thrown for 141 yards and only 4.9 yards per pass attempt. The distance between the champ and runner-up had narrowed a little, but you still needed a travel agent to book the trip.
And then, through the magic of NFL parity, a wild and riveting heavyweight bout ensued. It was, as Seahawks coach Pete Carroll deemed it, “really a championship game.”
It was also a challenge the Seahawks ultimately handled. They lost their 17-3 lead by being outscored 17-3 in the fourth quarter. But they prevailed in overtime, winning 26-20 before a regular-season record crowd of 68,447 at CenturyLink Field, with Russell Wilson taking over and Marshawn Lynch diving into the end zone.
“We shouldn’t have had to sweat it out,” defensive lineman Michael Bennett said, “but we persevered.”
For Week 3 of the season, unexpected perseverance is good enough.
This game was about the Broncos needing to prove they could play with the Seahawks after that Super Bowl shellacking. They exited feeling good about the comeback, but they’re not as close to the Seahawks as overtime suggested.
If the Seahawks hadn’t lost their minds in the fourth quarter, they win convincingly and celebrate another thorough defensive masterpiece against Manning and Denver’s vaunted offense. Instead, they spotted the Broncos nine points with foolish offensive mistakes that should be easy to correct: a safety and Wilson’s poor decision on an interception that led to a Denver touchdown.
The Seahawks got too conservative after taking a 14-point lead. Then they got sloppy, the silliness including Percy Harvin’s loony decision to take a kickoff out of the end zone while off balance. And even after safety Kam Chancellor saved the day with an interception, the Seahawks defense couldn’t hold a 20-12 lead in the final minute of regulation.
Manning threw for 162 of his 303 yards in the fourth quarter, including 80 on his final drive, when the Seahawks allowed explosive plays of 42 and 26 yards. The Seahawks rarely give up those, and the inability to close ruined what looked to be another signature performance for the NFL’s best defense.
The Seahawks huffed to the sidelines after the Broncos tied the game with a 26-yard pass from Manning to tight end Jacob Tamme and a two-point conversion. Bennett yelled his displeasure.
And then the Seahawks returned to being the Seahawks.
An offense that had struggled the entire second half mounted a 13-play, 80-yard drive to win in overtime. Just like that. The Seahawks lost their way quickly, and then they found it with stunning ease.
“I used to watch guys like Michael Jordan, and guys like Derek Jeter, and those types of players and great teams play,” Wilson said. “They always find ways to win. You think of the San Antonio Spurs, great teams like that, they play to the end, and they find ways to win. That’s what we had to do.”
This game left you wondering what a third fight would be like for these two teams, what a true Super Bowl rematch would be like. This revised Broncos team can play with the Seahawks. Even amid their disappointment, they gained confidence Sunday.
“I feel like we matched their intensity,” Denver defensive tackle Terrance Knighton said.
But for as well as the Broncos played late in the fourth quarter, the Seahawks still have something extra in reserve.
You saw it as they took a 17-3 lead. And you saw it in overtime, when Wilson took command and refused to give the ball back to Manning.
“We’re battle tested,” safety Earl Thomas said. “It’s great to get those tough, hard-fought wins. It brings the team closer. It’s great when you can learn valuable lessons, and you still win the game.”
It was really just 15 minutes of drama that passed as wild and crazy competition. But when you’re making a sequel to a 43-8 Super Bowl, you’ll take the suspense.
Finally, the Seahawks and Broncos produced a game worthy of hype.
|Manning vs. Seahawks|
|Peyton Manning is 2-4 in six games against the Seahawks, the first four with the Indianapolis Colts.|
|Sept. 21, 2014||Seahawks 26, Broncos 20 (OT)||31-49-1||303||2|
|Feb. 2, 2014||Seahawks 43, Broncos 8||34-49-2||280||1|
|Oct. 4, 2009||Colts 34, Seahawks 17||31-41-1||353||2|
|Dec. 24, 2005||Seahawks 28, Colts 13||9-12-0||116||0|
|Oct. 15, 2000||Colts 37, Seahawks 24||20-30-0||281||1|
|Dec. 20, 1998||Seahawks 27, Colts 23||23-39-1||335||1|
About Jerry Brewer
Jerry Brewer offers a unique perspective on the world of sports.
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