In the life of a Seahawks fan, there are several known things. One is that you will always have to deal with idiots saying that Seattle fans whine about the refs. Usually that’s while trying to defend a blatant uncalled “pass interference” penalty.
Another, especially if you are an old school fan, is that going to Denver to play usually means a loss. Going into Sunday, Seattle has a 5-20 record in Denver. Out of 52 meetings, Denver led 33-18 overall. Make that 34-18 now.
Knowing the history, and despite the great game last week against San Francisco, I wasn’t too confident about the Seahawks’ chances. I was interested to see how the team did on the road and in a very tough place to play, but not optimistic. And if the altitude and history weren’t enough, the weather had to make it worse by playing through 100-degree heat out there. Some days you just know things are going to be rough.
Play of the Game: As easy as it would be to put all of this on Matt Hasselbeck’s shoulders, and he did try to earn it by throwing three interceptions, two in the red zone, for my money the turning point was Walter Thurmond’s muffed punt that gave Denver possession at the Seattle 12-yard line. The Seahawks had driven down the field at the kick off and were on the one-yard line until two horrible penalties pushed them back and Hasselbeck threw a terrible interception trying to hit Deion Branch over Champ Bailey. At that point, Seattle’s defense stood firm and forced Denver to punt, so it looked like no damage done. The swing from the muffed punt got Denver’s offense out of jail and allowed the Broncos to take control.
1. Golden Tate – Wow, what a debut for the rookie playmaker! A 63-yard punt return that led to Seattle’s first touchdown, a great 52-yard reception where the corner tried to force him out of bounds for a short gain that Tate shrugged off and ran another 30 yards, and then a 20-yard punt return. Pete Carroll made the rookie inactive for the opener reportedly because Tate was having issues with route running. It looks like Tate took that to heart and responded the right way. I’m excited to see what the future holds for him. It has to be Golden.
2. Run Defense – All the beef up front has paid huge dividends in the first two games. Seattle’s run defense held Bronco running back Knowshon Moreno to 51 yards rushing on 24 carries. The one time the run defense looked bad was on the goal line. For some unknown reason Seattle had three down linemen and a spread style defense. You’re on the goal line. Defend the run first and foremost.
3. Special Teams – Yes, Walter Thurmond’s muffed punt was a major turning point in the game but on a whole, Seattle’s special teams were very special against the Broncos.
4. Colin Cole – I’m not a Colin Cole fan. I think he gets lost in the melee, can’t get off a block and never draws a double team. Because I’ve denigrated the big fellow in the past, I have to give him props because he has been a master in the middle so far this year. His game against Denver and shutting down the Bronco running game was easily the best game he’s had in a Seahawks uniform.
5. Run offense – A week after stinking badly against the 49ers, the Seahawk running game ran early, often, and well. Justin Forsett (8 carries for 44 yards) and Leon Washington (4 carries for 17 yards) had good games behind an offensive line that was as patchwork quilt as any in the league.
1. Third Down Defense – This was almost Ugly. A week after holding the 49ers to 1-for-15 on third down, Seattle allowed Denver to go 14-for-20. A lot of those came later in the game when the defense was getting tired and unable to get off the field, but that one stat tends to tell you a lot about who will win the game.
2. 4th and 2 – I’m not going to question whether they should have gone for it or not. That’s too much second guessing and I hate it when people bitch about it when you know they would be cheering if it would have worked. If I were in the coach’s seat, I might have gone for it too. The problem I have with it is, what the fuck were they seeing that made them want to go up top to Branch over Bailey again? You need two yards. On the other side of the line, tight end John Carlson was in one-on-one coverage since the running backs were all going out to the other side. On 4th and 2, you have to get the first down. If you aren’t going to run it then you have to go for a higher percentage option.
3. Announcers – I hate, hate, hate Kenny Albert and Daryl Johnston. Did I mention I hate them? Enough said.
4. Penalties – Another one that could go into the Ugly section. It wasn’t just that Seattle was flagged seven times for 64 yards. It was the timing of them. The first two were at the Denver goal line. Another was on a third down incompletion that extended a drive. These are the type of mistakes that cost more than a missed tackle at times.
5. Pass Rush – The Seattle defense rarely got pressure on Kyle Orton, sacking him once. While I’d like to blame the defensive line, Denver max protected Orton all day. What I do blame is Seattle’s inability to get creative and beat the max protect.
1. Turnovers – From the three interceptions, one of which came when the game was already done and dusted, to the muffed punt, you simply cannot turn the ball over and win. It’s just impossible.
2. Mistakes – From penalties to biting on the misdirection, Seattle shot themselves in the foot too many times. For a team that historically doesn’t play well on the road and even worse in Denver, they needed to be close to perfect to win. This wasn’t even close to average and it showed in the score.
3. Time Of Possession – Just about even at halftime, the Broncos ended up with a 37:27 to 22:33 advantage by holding the ball for most of the second half. The altitude and heat worked against the defense and just wore them out. Seattle’s offense was unable to stay on the field long enough to rest the defense and it showed.
4. Hasselbeck – His final line was horrible: 20-for-35, 233 yards, 1 sack, 1 TD and 3 INTs. Not what we need from him. I didn’t think he played terribly, as we’ve all seen that Matt before, but this was not his best game either.
5. Denver Receivers – I don’t think I’ve seen so many push offs not get called before in my life. You know it’s bad when even Daryl Johnston is making Michael Irvin jokes about it.
In the end, this trip to Mile High ended like so many of the others. The Seahawks actually played pretty well and without the early penalties and muffed punt, they were in this game. They had so many chances, and so many missed opportunities. They can take some good things from this, but the important thing is to get the hell out of there and back home.
Coming up is a visit from another former AFC West rival, the San Diego Chargers. I’m looking for Seattle to continue improving and hopefully see top draft pick Russell Okung finally get in the lineup.