Manning, Broncos' O uneven in loss to Seahawks


The Denver Broncos spent the offseason making their defense tougher. It worked for 60 minutes Sunday in Seattle, but they needed more.

The Seahawks outlasted Denver 26-20 in overtime Sunday in a game that we wish the two teams played back in February. The Seahawks' defense dominated the action for most of the day, but Peyton Manning helped put up 17 fourth-quarter points to make the game interesting.

Manning didn't even get a chance to touch the ball in overtime. Denver's improved front seven looked good for most of the day, but they got pushed around in the extra frame. All three Marshawn Lynch runs in overtime, including his game-winning touchdown, went for at least 6 yards. Russell Wilson scrambled four times for 21 yards on the game-winning drive as Denver's linebackers struggled to keep him from running to the outside.

It was stunning to see Seattle pushed to an extra period. Their defense did what they wanted most of the day until allowing Manning to direct a 80-yard, 41-second touchdown drive in the final minute of regulation. Manning's interception with under three minutes to go typified most of the day. The Seahawks defenders knew what was coming, left a tiny window to throw into and delivered a massive hit. Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor read Manning's eyes and made a terrific leaping pick to seemingly end the game. And Denver's running game was stagnant, gaining just 36 yards on 20 carries.

To put the Broncos' offensive performance in perspective: Denver averaged fewer yards per play than they did in the Super Bowl, even after their late flurry. Demaryius Thomas doesn't look like himself, and Manning missed more throws than usual. His duck:spiral ratio felt higher than usual, and he struggled to go deep.

We consider it a good sign that the Broncos were so competitive despite so much going wrong on offense. Their secondary is far better this year, and cornerback Aqib Talib has been everywhere. The Seahawks' offense did virtually nothing in the second half, and the Broncos defense nabbed a safety.

Just like in the Super Bowl, the Seahawks controlled the first half Sunday. The Broncos deserve credit for fighting back, but moral victories only count so much for a team with title aspirations.

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