Return to form (almost) for the Seahawks’ Legion of Boom
Other than a last-minute touchdown and two-point conversion that tied the game, the Seahawks did a nice job against Peyton Manning and the Broncos’ high-powered offense.
Seattle Times staff reporter
The Seahawks came up with several big plays on defense:
• On Denver’s first offensive play, Kam Chancellor forced a fumble by Broncos running back Montee Ball that was recovered by K.J. Wright.
• On Denver’s next possession, the Seahawks forced an incomplete pass on a third-and-five play, forcing the Broncos to settle for a field goal.
• In the third quarter, the Broncos were forced to punt when the Seahawks stuffed a third-and-one run.
• On the last play of the third quarter, on a third-and-three play at the Seattle 46, Jacob Tamme was dropped for a 4-yard loss by Wright and Byron Maxwell after catching a short pass from Peyton Manning.
• With Denver trailing 17-12 and driving late in the game, Chancellor intercepted a Manning pass at the Seahawks’ 13-yard line and returned it 52 yards.
Seattle linebacker K.J. Wright said it was a game that for all but 41 seconds could easily be described with just four words.
“We was killing ’em,’’ Wright said.
And then, suddenly, it was the Seahawks who were in danger of suffering a defeat that, in football terms, would have felt like death. Denver drove for a game-tying touchdown late in regulation that left all but anyone wearing orange in the crowd of 68,447 at CenturyLink Field shocked.
“If we would have lost, it would have been times 10 (what it felt like) last week,’’ said Wright, referring to a defeat last Sunday in San Diego.
Ultimately, though, Seattle survived. Russell Wilson led a drive to open overtime that ended in a 6-yard touchdown run by Marshawn Lynch that gave Seattle a 26-20 victory over Denver in a rematch of Super Bowl XLVIII.
On the sideline, Richard Sherman watched the winning plays unfold with somewhat mixed feelings.
“We let the offense down,’’ Sherman said. “We should never have let them drive like that in a game like this. We had them bottled up the whole game. We made a couple of mistakes that we are going to clean up.’’
Indeed, Denver’s last drive, which began at the 20-yard line with 59 seconds left and Seattle ahead 20-12, was mostly two plays — a 42-yard pass to Emmanuel Sanders that got the Broncos in Seahawks territory, then a 26-yard pass to Jacob Tamme for the touchdown.
Each, Wright said, were similar plays in which the Broncos created confusion in Seattle’s back seven with receivers on each side running vertical and wheel routes. Wright said they were not plays Seattle had seen from Denver before but that San Diego had tried last week.
Wright took the blame for the touchdown, saying, “I’ve just got to be able to see that’’ and get deep enough to not get beat.
Sherman said the Seahawks needed to do a better job of passing off the receivers — essentially, knowing who was covering whom.
“Just a couple plays where we should have passed the ball off and didn’t,’’ Sherman said.
Other than that, though, it was hard to argue the assessment of Seattle safety Earl Thomas: “We really dominated the whole game.’’
In fact, while it wasn’t the 43-8 rout of the Super Bowl, for three quarters it looked like it’d be pretty easy. Seattle used two Wilson touchdown passes late in the second quarter to take a 17-3 halftime lead that also lasted into the final 15 minutes.
But then the offense got a little stagnant, a safety giving Denver life early in the fourth quarter. Then a Wilson interception that gave Denver the ball at the Seattle 19 led to a touchdown and a 17-12 game. And then, after a punt, Denver drove to the Seattle 24 with just more than two minutes left.
From there, Peyton Manning tried to hit Wes Welker down the right seam. The only problem was there were three Seattle defenders there, including Kam Chancellor in front of Welker. Chancellor used all of his 6-foot-3 height to catch the ball and then return it to the Denver 35. Initially, he thought he had a pick-six.
“I definitely did until the hamstrings kicked in,’’ he said.
It was a pass some in the Seattle locker room were surprised Manning tried.
“I don’t know why Peyton threw it,’’ Wright said. “He threw it right to him.’’
Said Sherman: “I think he underestimated Kam’s athleticism, and Kam made him pay for it.’’
Seattle, though, could get only a field goal from there, allowing Denver just enough time for the TD and two-point conversion.
“We thought we had the game won,’’ said Seattle coach Pete Carroll. “But those guys (the Broncos) came out and threw just a championship drive.’’
Still, the rest of the game was a return to form for the Legion of Boom following the 30-21 defeat in San Diego and capped a week of practice Wright said “was real serious. Guys were still a little down from the way we performed last week. Guys were focused.’’
Until the final drive, Seattle had gone almost eight quarters against Manning, going back to the Super Bowl, of allowing only a garbage-time touchdown and another on a short field.
Seattle broke on the ball better than a week ago, Carroll said, and also tackled better.
“We were out there hitting guys,’’ Wright said. “Just got back to doing what we do.’’
And leave it to Carroll, who has often said he lives life as if something good is just around the corner, to decide that maybe it all worked out just as it should have.
“I was a little bit stunned that we let it happen so easily,’’ he said of Denver’s tying score. “That was lousy. It set it up for a great finish. I kind of like the dramatics. It was pretty good.’’
Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or firstname.lastname@example.org.