Heading into the Seattle Seahawks’ second preseason game against the mighty Denver Broncos last Saturday, head coach Pete Carroll made one goal clear — the first team offense must improve upon its anemic showing week one against the San Diego Chargers.
Mission accomplished. The Seahawks’ first unit produced a stellar run of four scoring drives in the first half after Seattle’s defense forced the Broncos into a game-opening three-and-out.
Coach Carroll had much to smile about from all three units — offense, defense and special teams. Here’s a good problem to have: Even with their fast start, Russell Wilson and the starting offense still took a back seat to the Seahawks’ special teams and defense in the blowout win over the Broncos.
The game — featuring starters vs. starters — was over at halftime.
Despite the lopsided final score of 40 – 10, the Seahawks’ victory was not without adversity. Four minutes into the first quarter, Denver linebacker Wesley Woodyard accomplished a rare feat — he ran down Wilson from behind on a scramble. Wilson calmly bounced back on the next play with a dart down the middle to backup tight end Sean McGrath for a long first down into the red zone.
Throughout the first half, the Seahawks deftly mixed pass and run to keep Denver’s second-ranked defense off balance. A scary moment for all occurred when Denver defensive end Derek Wolfe was injured on the field and taken off via ambulance. (Wolfe is recovering well and should play again soon). The nine-minute delay was a real momentum killer for the Seahawks. If that weren’t enough to stop their mojo, left guard Paul McQuistan false started immediately after play resumed.
No problem for Wilson, who calmly tossed a 12-yard touchdown pass to Jermaine Kearse on the next play. The former Husky receiver ran a crisp route that turned the hips of Denver cornerback Chris Harris just enough to get Kearse an easy catch in the front corner of the end zone.
Not to be outdone, the Seahawks defense forced a fumble on the next series. On the first play after the turnover, Wilson went for the big strike on a 33-yard completion to Golden Tate along the right sideline. Seahawks kicker Steven Hauschka connected from 42 soon after to bring the score to 10 – 0.
Immediately after a Wes Welker touchdown at the expense of Antoine Winfield, Jermaine Kearse topped his earlier touchdown reception with an electrifying 107-yard kickoff return for a touchdown with 1:40 left in the first quarter. The route was on.
The Seahawks defense came up with yet another crucial turnover. This time, just as Broncos running back Ronnie Hillman dove at the goal line, Seahawks linebacker Heath Farwell displaced the ball with his helmet. In the evening’s most stunning “wow” moment, Brandon Browner picked up the loose ball deep in the end zone and returned it 106 yards for a touchdown.
Saturday night’s victory was a total team effort. The starting offense certainly atoned for its showing against the Chargers, but the defense and special teams stole the show again. Browner made several impact plays on top of his fumble return score. New Seattle Seahawk O’Brien Schofield pulled off a rare defensive trifecta just after the two- minute warning by nabbing a sack, fumble and recovery in one play. Walter Thurmond showed that he is a legitimate threat to take the nickel cornerback spot from Antoine Winfield.
The Broncos proved to be not up to the task of halting Seattle’s momentum. Rolling like they are, the Seahawks appear more than ready to take on the Green Bay Packers for their third preseason contest in Lambeau Field on Friday, Aug. 23.