Monday, September 22, 2014

Broncos Lose to Seahawks, but Make a Point

The Denver Broncos lost to the the World Champion Seattle Seahawks yesterday, but in some ways it was a win for the losing team.

Super Bowl Hangover?

 The Broncos did not look like they belonged on the same field with the Seahawks in the first half.    In that half,  the Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning just did not look like himself--lots of balls thrown a good distance from his own receivers and his receivers were not getting any separation from the Seahawks' defenders.  On one play, Manning threw the ball down field to Wes Welker and it looked like the kind of toss you'd make to someone a foot taller--something that called for a jump ball with three defenders close at hand. Heading into the fourth quarter, Manning and his Broncos were behind 17-3.  The game appeared to be some kind of hangover from last year's Super Bowl that Seattle won handily, 43-8. 

Some analysts suggested that Denver's game plan was based on San Diego's upset of the Seahawks and perhaps it was just not the right approach for Denver.  Something was definitely wrong.  

Broncos' Defense Steps Up 

As the game wore on, it was the Broncos defense that  finally helped lead a comeback.  The illusive Seahawks quarterback, Russell Wilson,  who like Manning is a tireless student of the game, was sacked by 7-time Pro Bowler & 4-time First-Team All-Pro DeMarcus Ware at the 1 yard line.  Marshawn Lynch, an unstoppable force for the Hawks, was stopped in the end zone for a safety to make the score, 17-5.  A little while later, Chris Harris intercepted Wilson and Manning tossed a shovel pass to Julius Thomas to bring the Broncos within a single score at 17-12.

Most Excellent Catch by Demaryius Thomas

When Denver had the ball again, the Hawks talented and tall defensive back, Kam Chancellor leaped up to snag a Manning pass at the Seattle 13 and Steven Hauschka kicked a 28-yard field goal with 59 seconds remaining.  At this point everyone in the country who was watching knew that Denver was toast were it not for their talented and reliable quarterback, Peyton Manning. And although Manning was not having his best day, he drove the Broncos 80 yards for a touchdown and then passed to Demaryius Thomas who made a terrific catch at the back of the end zone for a two-point conversion that put the game into overtime.  It was a great toss by Manning, but according to sports analysts Bob and Ted, a most excellent catch by Thomas.

Out of Peyton Manning's Hands

Then the Seahawks and  Russell Wilson won the game in the most direct way; they won the coin toss and drove 80 yards down field to score--keeping the ball out of Manning's hands. That's how you beat a great quarterback! Obviously, you have to wonder if Denver would have won the game had they won the coin toss, but Seattle was certainly deserving of the win.

Super Bowl XLXIX

Russell Wilson played a good game. Manning and crew looked awful at times, but in the end the performances seemed to even out like the score.  The Denver defense looked very tough at times and their offense finally came alive.  The positive outcome for Denver, and this is significant, was that even on a day where Manning and his receivers were not in sync, they were able to regroup and compete with the best team in football at the best team's very obnoxious home field.  If Denver can play Seattle toe-to-toe in Seattle, they have a decent chance to beat them should they find themselves face to face in Super Bowl XLXIX, which is 132 days from now at the University of Phoenix Stadium. 
Manning will be sore today after taking a number of big hits yesterday that in most games he is able to avoid.  The rest of the NFL will be studying the game film to find things that worked for the Broncos against what has to be one of the fastest teams in football history.

There was also one very bad no-call that will be analyzed and reviewed. Seattle was flagged for what looked like an obvious off-sides, but the call was changed to a no-call. 

Pillars of the NFL
Copyright 2014, Sporting Chance Press.

Sporting Chance Press is the publisher of Patrick McCaskey's Pillars of the NFL: Coaches Who Won Three or More Championships.   Pillars examines the football lives of George Halas, Curly Lambeau, Guy Chamberlin, Paul Brown, Weeb Ewbank, Vince Lombardi, Chuck Noll, Bill Walsh, Joe Gibbs, and Bill Belichick.