Sep 21, 2014; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman (25) tackles Denver Broncos wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders (10) during the third quarter at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
It was a tough early season loss for the Denver Broncos, who had nearly all hands on deck for an early season premiere matchup against the Seattle Seahawks. The Broncos played pretty well in the first half defensively until a couple of quick scores by Seattle before everyone headed to the locker room turned a 3-3 tie into a 17-3 Seahawks lead in no time.
The Broncos came out in the second half stale again offensively, but ended up getting some huge plays from the defense including a safety, an interception by Chris Harris Jr., and suddenly they were in business.
After scoring their first touchdown of the game on a well designed shovel pass to Julius Thomas near the goal line, the Broncos had a shot to take a lead in the fourth quarter when Peyton Manning threw an interception on 3rd and 11 that gave the Seahawks great field position and allowed them to kick a field goal extending the lead to 20-12.
The Broncos drove down the field with under a minute to play, scoring a touchdown and connecting on a two-point conversion to tie the game. The coin didn’t flip Denver’s way in overtime, and the Seahawks marched straight down the field to win the game with a rushing touchdown by Marshawn Lynch.
It was a phenomenal game for the average NFL fan, and a heartbreaking loss for Broncos fans. Here are three observations from the game, things the Broncos can take into the bye week and improve upon, build on, or work on.
1. The Defense is For Real
With three games under their belts, the Denver Broncos’ defense appears to be on its way to dominant status. The Seahawks had their moments, of course, including the overtime drive, but the Broncos also set the Seahawks up with six points on turnovers.
This unit notched a safety, was doing a pretty good job of making Russell Wilson uncomfortable, forced a turnover, and was aggressive. T.J. Ward finally flexed a little bit of what made him the first player the Broncos sought after in free agency with his speed, blitzing ability, hard hitting nature, and overall presence moving around the defensive formation and nasty style.
DeMarcus Ware was also huge in this game, as was Von Miller at times.
One thing that didn’t make much sense was not setting up a spy on Russell Wilson at the end of the game, and if they did why was it not Ward or Quinton Carter instead of Nate Irving? Russell Wilson is a pretty fast dude.
2. Ditch the Third Down Runs
This was by far the dumbest thing the Broncos attempted to do in this game, and they’ve done it in all three games thus far. They have inexplicably taken the ball out of Peyton Manning’s hands in key third down situations on a variety of occasions, or they’ve been way too conservative.
Seattle’s defense is certainly the best in the NFL, so it’s important not to try to get cute against them. They are disciplined and phenomenal tacklers, so why would you even try to run the ball on third and long? Or on third down in general, especially when you’ve been so bad running the ball in the first place?
The Broncos can’t get cute unless they have a big time lead. In this game, they never had a lead. Why are you handing the ball to Virgil Green in a third down situation on the road against the reigning Super Bowl champs?
3. Emmanuel Sanders is a Beast
I don’t know if anyone has noticed, but Emmanuel Sanders is, at this point in time, the Broncos’ best offensive player. He has consistently made plays, has gone over 100 yards in two straight games, and is coming up with big plays in clutch situations.
It speaks volumes to why the Broncos made such an effort to get him when his talks with San Francisco and Kansas City went sour, and why they were so willing to let go of Eric Decker to do it.
This guy is a superstar in the making, one that the Broncos are going to continue getting more looks in the offense. He’s certainly earned it.