Logo by Kevin Gamache, Hammerhead
Peyton Manning bristled at the question. “It’s not embarrassing at all,” Manning said when a reporter asked if he was embarrassed after the Super Bowl. “I would never use that word. The word ’embarrassing’ is an insulting word, to tell you the truth.” A prideful man of great accomplishments, Manning had his fuel for the off-season.
There were reports Manning hung signs with the number “35” in the Broncos locker room to signify the 35-point loss in February. His general manager, familiar with the feeling of being blown out in the Super Bowl, attacked free agency with vigor. Four star players were signed to multi-year contracts totalling $128M. Defensive tackle Terrance Knighton was emboldened by the moves.
This team, this whole Broncos organization, was consumed by the goal of beating Seattle. Nothing else could wash away the doubt they felt every time they tried to convince themselves that they had the right to dream of a Super Bowl win this year. Beat Seattle, and their version of history would be validated; it was fluky plays and injuries that cost them a ring.
What they were not prepared for, what they could never allow themselves to believe, was the possibility that what the Seattle defense did to them in February was not a fluke. The idea that Kam Chancellor, Earl Thomas, Richard Sherman, Bobby Wagner, Michael Bennett, Cliff Avril and the rest were simply better than Manning and his crew. Some will point to the miraculous 80-yard touchdown drive in under a minute that forced the game into overtime as proof that the Broncos offense had solved the Seahawks defense.
The truth is, the Broncos needed that drive just to equal most of their dismal numbers from the Super Bowl.
|Broncos Offense||Super Bowl XLVIII||Rematch|
|Yards Per Play||4.8||4.7|
|3rd Down %||46.2%||37.5%|
|Red Zone %||50%||50%|
|Yards Per Pass Attempt||5.7||5.9|
|Yards Per Rush||1.9||1.8|
Imagine those numbers if the Broncos had not scored on that final drive. Imagine those numbers if Russell Wilson had not thrown that interception deep in Seattle territory. So much of the Broncos money was spent to improve their defense. There was almost an assumption that Manning and the offense would never be held down again the way they were in the Super Bowl. And yet, they were.
The Masters of Delusion who reside in Denver will try to explain away what happened yesterday. They will blame the overtime rules. They will point to the narrowing of the outcome. They will invent a reality that lets the light of championship hope continue to flicker. But when they go to bed at night and close their eyes, they will see flashes of blue and know that even their best is still not good enough.
Broncos defense is legit
Eleven different Seahawks caught a pass on Sunday.
Offense still searching
Seattle ended with a very balanced 35 passes and 37 runs, but nine of those carries came from Wilson that often were designed pass plays. The Seahawks mostly attacked the Broncos through the air with mixed results.
The Seahawks were at their best on methodical 10 and 13 play drives for touchdowns to end the first half and to end the game. They were patient and decisive. Wilson took yards on the ground when they were there and made the defense cover the full field. Play-calling was sufficiently mixed to where the Broncos had to always account for the run and the pass.
|Justin Britt (left) and J.R. Sweezy (right) clear the way for Marshawn Lynch’s game-winning touchdown (image via NFL Rewind)|
Tight ends were rarely targeted in this game as they were often held back to help pass protect. Seattle used the fullback far more often than they had in previous games.
Tilt your head one way, and it feels like the Seahawks offense is struggling to find their rhythm. Tilt it the other way, and they put up 26 points and 384 yards against a very talented and supremely motivated defense. We will learn a lot about whether this offense is ready to carry this team in the coming 3-4 weeks.
The Seahawks offense is currently ranked 4th in the NFL in scoring at 27.7 ppg
Defense returns to form
- Marcus Burley did not need to win every matchup with Welker. He just needed to prove it was not going to be easy throwing his way. He did that with two pass breakups. Nice game for him.
- O’Brien Schofield subbed for the injured Bruce Irvin and continued to make his case for more snaps as he led the team with three quarterback hits and had a sack.
- DeShawn Shead appears to have leapfrogged Jermaine Kearse in punt coverage and had a nice play to down a ball.
- Kevin Williams had his best game in Seattle with two tackles for loss. His playing time seemed to go up this week.
- Cassius Marsh got more run with the nickel group at defensive end and had a number of nice plays. He finished with four tackles.
- Bobby Wagner had 11 tackles, and now has five straight games with at least 10 tackles and 14 straight games with at least 9 tackles.
- Bryan Walters was reliable catching the ball on punts and had a few key catches.
- Jon Ryan had five of his six punts downed inside the 20 and had a monster safety punt that traveled 80 yards in the air.
Game ball – Ricardo Lockette