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In the end, Seahawks can’t make the play that mattered most

Posted Aug 7, 2014

The Seahawks had a chance to pull out a victory in their preseason opener, but an end zone interception in the fourth quarter and 131 yards in penalties prevented that from happening in a 21-16 loss to the Broncos.

DENVER – When Ricardo Lockette saw Terrelle Pryor spin free and launch a pass toward him in the end zone late in the fourth quarter, his immediate thought was that the Seahawks were going to escape from their preseason opener with yet another victory.

Instead, Pryor was hit as he was releasing the ball. A defender, or two, flashed in front of Lockette and the pass was intercepted to allow the Denver Broncos to hold on for a 21-16 victory on Thursday night at Sports Authority Field at Mile High.

In a game that included a 45-minute lightning delay in the first quarter and 25 penalties, it provided a disappointing ending to a long and, at times, frustrating evening for the defending Super Bowl champion – a title the Seahawks claimed with a decisive 43-8 victory over the Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII on Feb. 2.

“I was thinking we had this one and we were going to get out of here with a win,” Lockette said in the locker room. “We just tried to make something happen on a broken play, and we didn’t. I think I did tip it. It just didn’t go our way.

“It just didn’t happen for us today.”

Pryor did some good things when he entered the game that Russell Wilson started and Tarvaris Jackson continued. The former starter for the Oakland Raiders who is in his first training camp with the Seahawks completed 9 of 16 passes for 137 yards and also led the team with 28 rushing yards on seven carries.

But the play he couldn’t shake was the one that got away – that pass that was intercepted by Broncos linebacker Steven Johnson with 2½ remaining.

“I thought it was a win for sure,” Pryor said. “But I got hit when I was releasing the ball. The guy made a good play, but I lost my team the game. I’ve got to make that play. That’s what big-time players do. It was a poor decision. I’ve never been in a situation like that, so I’m going to learn from it.

"I can’t get down on myself. I’ve got to keep looking for some positives and move forward.”

The loss snapped the Seahawks’ franchise-best nine-game winning streak in the preseason, a run that began in 2011. The Seahawks will look to start a new streak next Friday night in their preseason home opener when they host the San Diego Chargers at CenturyLink Field.

There will be plenty to focus on from this game for the coaches and players as the Seahawks prepare for that home opener.

Steven Hauschka kicked three field goals, including a 22-yarder early in the fourth quarter to give the Seahawks a 16-14 lead. Christine Michael scored his first NFL touchdown, tying the score at 7 in the second quarter. Wilson (4 of 6) and Jackson (5 of 7) combined to complete 9 of 13 passes before Pryor took over.

Cornerback A.J. Jefferson had an interception off Broncos backup QB Brock Osweiler to set up Hauschka’s go-ahead field goal.

“I think he was looking for something else, and then the tight end ended up being open,” said Jefferson, who had to leave the game because of an ankle injury after his big play. “I saw him kind of late, so I just ran under him. The pass was underthrown, so I was able to get there before he did.”

Rookie Paul Richardson, a second-round draft choice who played at the University of Colorado, had a team-high four receptions. Rookie free agent Brock Coyle, who started at middle linebacker for an injured Bobby Wagner, had five tackles in his NFL debut.

But being flagged 13 times for 131 wrong-way yards and giving up too many third-down conversions were the repetitive theme of this game. In a 14-play, 61-yard drive to the Broncos’ first TD, Peyton Manning converted three third-down situations with passes to Demaryius Thomas.

“It was ups and downs,” said All-Pro free safety Earl Thomas, who led the Seahawks with six tackles in his brief stint. “There were penalties that kind of killed us. We were playing pretty good football, but on third down we definitely can’t let them off the leash like that.

“We’ve definitely got to take a hard look at ourselves and grade ourselves tough. We’ve got to be honest and evaluate yourself like you need to be evaluated. And I think we’re going to do a great job with that because we have great leaders and great coaches that are going to give it to us plane.”