If Saturday night’s game between the Seahawks and the Broncos proves to be the dress rehearsal for a Super Bowl rematch, Seattle deserves a standing ovation.
Lead by a defense that forced four turnovers, excellent play on special teams, and a solid performance by quarterback Russell Wilson, the Seahawks dominated all three facets of the game en route to a decisive 40-10 victory.
“There [were] just so many plays and so much activity, so many guys did things that are exciting for us, that maybe we can’t name them,” Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said at his postgame press conference.
Let’s start with cornerback Brandon Browner. During the Broncos second offensive series, quarterback Peyton Manning hit tight end Julius Thomas for a long gain along the sideline but Browner knocked the ball loose, which was recovered by Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor, leading to a field goal. Later in the game, Broncos running back Ronnie Hillman was looking to cap off a long scoring drive, but fumbled the ball just before breaking the goal line. Browner scooped up the loose ball near the back of the end zone, but instead of taking a knee for a touchback, he ran the ball out for a 106-yard touchdown return.
“What a tremendous play by Brandon Browner,” Carroll said. “The wherewithal to get up and get going so quickly and go for it. I thought that was a fantastic play.”
And it wasn’t even the longest touchdown of the night.
Following an 11-yard touchdown from Manning to Wes Welker, Jermaine Kearse fielded the kickoff deep in the end zone, shot straight up the middle of the field, and shed the tackle of Broncos kicker Matt Prater for a 107-yard touchdown return. It was his second score of the night, after catching a 12-yard TD from Wilson on the Seahawks first possession.
Wilson played the entire first half and looked in regular season form, finishing 8 of 12 with 127 yards and two touchdowns. Peyton Manning looked solid as well, completing 11 of 16 passes for 163 yards and a touchdown.
From the Broncos perspective, it was a brutal loss, and not just because of what read on the scoreboard. During the Seahawks first offensive series, defensive end Derek Wolfe was taken off the field in an ambulance after suffering a neck injury. Although a CT scan showed no broken bones and Wolfe was expected to return to Denver on the team’s charter flight, it was a scary moment for a team that’s been reeling from injuries in training camp. Right guard and prized free agent signee Louis Vasquez and veteran cornerback Champ Bailey were also injured.
The Seahawks next game is scheduled for Aug. 23 at Lambeau Field against the Packers.