Grading the game: Seahawks get passing marks in 26-20 victory over Broncos
A look at how the Seahawks did in Sunday’s game
Seattle Times staff reporter
The Seahawks didn’t expect it to be as easy to beat the Denver Broncos on Sunday as it was in February in the Super Bowl.
But for most of Sunday, it also didn’t figure to be as hard as it turned out to be, with Seattle blowing a two-touchdown fourth-quarter lead as the Broncos forced overtime.
Ultimately, though, it ended as the Seahawks hoped it would — in victory — with Seattle getting a 26-20 overtime triumph. It was a game in which the Seahawks looked mostly like themselves again as they rebounded from the defeat the previous week at San Diego.
Here are our weekly grades after Seattle improved to 2-1:
Russell Wilson was spectacular when it mattered most, coolly leading an overtime drive to win the game, passing for 35 yards and rushing for another 21 as Seattle marched 80 yards for the clinching score. He also was lights-out during a stretch of the second quarter when he threw two touchdown passes in a span of 2:53 to give Seattle a 17-3 lead. He’ll kick himself as hard as anyone, though, for the fourth-quarter interception that helped spark Denver’s comeback.
After running the ball just 13 times in the defeat at San Diego, the Seahawks made an effort to get the running game going against the Broncos. It wasn’t always easy, but ultimately the numbers looked Seahawks-like — 129 yards on 37 attempts. Marshawn Lynch, who missed practice Wednesday with a back issue, looked as powerful as ever with 88 yards on 26 carries and the winning touchdown, and three receptions for 40 yards.
You can’t say the Seahawks didn’t spread the ball around as 11 players caught passes among 25 completions — including Wilson, who had a 17-yard grab on a pass from receiver Jermaine Kearse. Ricardo Lockette continued his breakout with a 39-yard touchdown. Otherwise, though, Seattle mostly was confined to a short and intermediate passing game with no other gain by a receiver going for more than 16 yards. Percy Harvin had just four catches in regulation but then had three in overtime to finish with seven for 42 yards. Just as important, though, was the way his presence proved a constant distraction for the Denver defense on running plays.
A mixed bag, as Seattle ultimately did what it needed get the job done up front, especially on the final drive. There were some fits and starts, though. Rookie Justin Britt had a tough matchup against DeMarcus Ware, including a sack of Wilson that set up a safety that made it 17-5 with 13:07 left and Wilson was sacked three times. The Seahawks also seemed to struggle at times to just line it up and run, such as the failed third-and-goal play in the first quarter. But the blocking of Britt and guard J.R. Sweezy helped pave the way or Lynch’s winning TD run.
Seattle rotated liberally throughout with all eight active linemen getting lots of work. The Seahawks were particularly effective against the run, holding Denver to 36 yards on 20 carries and finally forcing the Broncos to give up on it — Denver ran 14 times for 15 yards in the first half. Reserves such as Cassius Marsh, Kevin Williams and O’Brien Schofield played particularly well, the latter credited with a game-high three quarterback hurries and Seattle’s only sack.
Seattle’s linebackers rebounded after a tough week in coverage at San Diego, with K.J. Wright and others holding Denver tight end Julius Thomas to just three receptions for 17 yards. The tackling also was better as the Broncos didn’t get the yards-after-catch the Chargers did. Wright was particularly good most of the game, recovering a fumble on Denver’s first snap, among other good plays.
Mostly a return to form for the Legion of Boom, save for the last drive. Seattle wanted to keep everything underneath, and mostly did as planned. Until that final drive, Denver didn’t have a pass play longer than 19 yards. Kam Chancellor was everywhere, forcing the first fumble and then making an interception on the second-to-last drive that appeared at the time to sew up the victory. And Marcus Burley did a solid job most of the day on Wes Welker in a matchup that was much talked about going in.
Pete Carroll said punter Jon Ryan might have been the MVP of the game and it was hard to argue as he averaged 50.2 yards on six punts, with five downed inside the 20. That gave Seattle a critical edge in field position most of the day. Lockette also was a standout in coverage again. Steven Hauschka’s rare missed field goal, though, helped open the door for Denver’s comeback. And Denver kicker Brandon McManus made Harvin mostly irrelevant as a returner, booting four of five for touchbacks, with Harvin making a decision he’d probably like over, trying to return one that he got only to the 9.