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Seahawks punish Broncos, 40-10
The Seahawks returned to CenturyLink Field in a big way on Saturday night, fueled by big plays.
Big plays? How about a 107-yard kickoff return by Jermaine Kearse and a 106-yard fumble return by Brandon Browner? They happened, and so did a lot of other good things as the Seahawks slapped a 40-10 loss on the Denver Broncos in their preseason home opener before a crowd of 67,635.
The victory extended the Seahawks’ preseason winning streak to a franchise record seven in a row, and set the stage as they take their preseason act on the road next week by traveling to Green Bay to play the Packers on Friday night.
After a so-so performance in the preseason opener against the Chargers in San Diego last week, Russell Wilson completed 8 of 12 passes for 127 yards and two touchdowns while playing the entire first half for a passer rating of 141.3. The Broncos’ Peyton Manning, meanwhile, was a 11 of 16 for 163 yards and a TD for a 122.7 rating.
And Wilson wasn’t the only one who played better on Saturday night than he had last week. The Broncos won the coin toss, just as the Chargers did in last week’s opener. That’s where the similarities ended, however, as the defense forced a three-and-out – after allowing the Chargers a 13-play, 74-yard drive to a field goal; and the offense drove 65 yards in 10 plays to Wilson’s 12-yard TD pass to Kearse. Wilson was 4 of 4 for 60 yards.
The Broncos scored when Manning passed 11 yards to Wes Welker for a TD with 1:52 remaining. Manning completed 4 of 5 passes for 72 yards.
But Kearse then returned the ensuing kickoff 107 yards for a TD that made it 17-7.
While Kearse had the obvious big plays in the opening quarter, Browner turned in the more subtle plays. In addition to poking the ball from the grasp of Julius Thomas on the fumble-forcing play, the physical Browner also ripped the ball from Eric Decker for an incompletion on Manning’s second pass of the game and then broke up another pass to Demaryius Thomas.
But Browner was not done. The Broncos had the ball at the Seahawks’ 1-yard line and Ronnie Hillman was heading to the end zone on the first possession of the second half. Until, that is, Heath Farwell forced a fumble that Browner recovered in the end zone and returned 106 yards for a TD that made it 24-7 with 8:54 left in the half.
The defense forced another three-and-out, Golden Tate returned the punt 39 yards and Steven Hauschka pushed the Seahawks’ lead to 27-7 with a 41-yard field goal.
And the Seahawks weren’t done, as Wilson passed 3 yards to tight end Sean McGrath for a TD with 32 seconds left. There would have been no TD without a 26-yard pass play from Wilson to rookie running back Spencer Ware on third-and-14.
Chancellor was a factor from start to almost finish in the first half. After collecting a team-high seven tackles in the first quarter, the Pro Bowl-caliber strong safety made the stop three times in a five-play sequence on the first possession of the second quarter. Chancellor finished the half with 11 tackles in what definitely was a tempo-setting performance.
Tarvaris Jackson took over for Wilson in the third quarter and stretched the lead to 40-7 with a 38-yard TD pass to Stephen Williams, capping a four-play, 75-yard drive in which Jackson was 3 of 3 for 74 yards.
In picking up where he left off against the Chargers in the opener, Jackson ran, for 17 and 6 yards; and passed, including completions of 38, 29 and 19 yards. He called it a night before the quarter was over, but had completed 4 of 7 passes for 93 yards.
The play of the quarter was the TD pass to Williams, as he made a falling grab of Jackson’s pass inside the 5-yard line and then flopped into the end zone after not being touched. These two also hooked up on a 42-yard TD play in the opener against the Chargers.
The defense, meanwhile, held the Broncos to minus-13 yards to open the half as Denver lost yards or had no gain in their first five plays.
The Broncos got on the board again – and into double figures – with 10:39 left in the game on a 33-yard field goal by Matt Prater. Trindon Holliday set it up with a 73-yard punt return, but the Broncos had to settle for the field goal as rookie Ty Powell got a sack on first down and Will Blackmon broke up a third-down pass in the end zone.
The Broncos were driving again behind 6-foot-8 QB Brock Osweiler, and facing a second-and-15 at the Seahawks’ 15. But sooner than you could mutter “ill-advised pass,” DeShawn Shead intercepted a pass in the end zone and returned it 20 yards.