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Sacked at Mile High
DENVER – Pete Carroll could have pulled his punches, but he didn’t. He was direct and to the point in admitting that the Denver Broncos beat the Seahawks to the punch with their pass rush on Saturday night.
The Broncos won the game 23-20 on a 51-yard field by Steve Hauschka as time expired at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. But what had the Seahawks’ second-year coach concerned was the pass protection afforded quarterback Tarvaris Jackson – or lack of it, as he was sacked five times and seemingly harassed five times that much.
“We saw some stuff in this game that was real obvious,” Carroll said after the Seahawks slipped to 1-2 in the preseason. “Our inability to protect the quarterback was so clear in the first half that it disrupted everything. We have a real clear area we have to work hard at.
“They ran right through us.”
It’s enough of a concern that Carroll is planning to play his offensive starters more than usual in Friday night’s preseason finale against the Oakland Raiders at CenturyLink Field. The starters traditionally play very little, if at all, in the last outing.
“We still need to play,” Carroll said. “We’ve got things we got to get done. I don’t care about tradition.”
With an eye toward the Sept. 11 regular-season opener against the 49ers in Francisco, Carroll added, “It’s a race against time, and we’re not staying with the race right now.”
For his part, Jackson did not point fingers, opting to spread the blame for the continuing situation among his blockers, his receivers, his backs and even himself.
“The pass protection is not just solely on one person, one unit,” Jackson said. “It’s all about me getting the ball out. The receivers getting open. The offensive line protecting. Making sure we target the right guy. So we’ve got a lot of work to do as far as getting that together.”
But at least he didn’t have to answer questions about the No. 1 offense’s inability to score – as was the case after the first two games. Jeff Reed kicked a 52-yard field goal in the first quarter and Jackson then passed 1 yard to tight end Dominique Byrd for a touchdown in the fourth quarter.
“I’m glad we finally got some points on the board,” Jackson said. “That was a good thing, to show the guys that we can do it.”
Even if the long-awaited TD did come against the Broncos’ backups.
“We didn’t really care who it was against,” Jackson said. “It was just good for us to see the ball go into the end zone.”
This game, however, was decided by the special teams.
Seahawks rookie Doug Baldwin continued his impressive preseason by returning a kickoff 105 yards for the Seahawks’ other TD, while Reed also added a 53-yarder in the fourth quarter.
“I was exhausted. Exhausted,” Baldwin said after using some just-as-it’s-drawn-up blocking to get up the sideline and then took care of the rest to get into the end zone. “After the first wave, the hole was enormous. Then I just had to make one guy miss.”
The Broncos, meanwhile, got 57- and 40-yard field goals from Matt Prater, as well as a 2-yard TD run by Willis McGahee and a 6-yard TD pass from Kyle Orton to Eric Decker.
The Broncos rolled up 450 yards, to 183 for the Seahawks. They ran for 148 yards and Orton (236) and backup Tim Tebow (93) passed for 329.
But the bottom line was how the Broncos’ defensive line dominated. Rookie Von Miller had two sacks and defensive end Elvis Dumervil added 1½.
“They attacked the guys on the edge,” Jackson said. “That’s what they do. They’re very good at rushing the passer.”
Rookie right tackle James Carpenter took credit for giving up two of the sacks.
“I had a bad game today,” the team’s first-round draft choice said. “I’m just going to work on it and get better. But I’ve got to give credit where credit is due. They’re some good players.”
But as Jackson put it, “Everybody’s sticking together and we’re just going to keep grinding.”