85 degrees and clear
Key Coaching Decision #1: (DEN ball, trailing 7-0/second-and-7 at DEN 45/8:10 Q1)
• Rookie RB Royce Freeman was tackled by Jarran Reed and the ball came loose. It looked like a fumble on the replay, and the commentators noted that it appeared the ball had come loose before Freeman hit the ground. The ball was recovered by Seattle. However, the referees did not think it was a fumble and spotted the ball.
• The ball was snapped before Pete Carroll’s flag was recognized by the officials. (It appeared that Carroll did get the flag on the field before the snap, just not in time to stop the play.)
• On the play, Case Keenum threw for a first down. Denver later scored a touchdown on the drive to tie the game.
• A successful challenge here would have given Seattle the ball and the opportunity to go up two scores on the road. Carroll needed to challenge the play quicker.
Key Coaching Decision #2: (SEA ball, game tied 7-7/ third-and-goal at DEN 7/ 14:13 Q2)
• Carroll uses Seattle’s first timeout here after an offensive penalty nullifies a Russell Wilson pass to Brandon Marshall for a touchdown. This use of a timeout will later prove costly.
Key Coaching Decision #3: (SEA ball trailing 17-10/ second-and-1 at SEA 41/ 0:37 Q2)
• After a Bradley McDougald interception with 1:09 left in the first half, the Seahawks have an opportunity to put some points on the board and have one timeout.
Seattle uses their last timeout after a 9-yard completion. On second down, Wilson is sacked for a 22-yard loss back at their own 19-yard line. Seattle has no choice but to take it into the locker room behind one touchdown.
• Had Seattle not wasted that timeout at the beginning of the quarter, they likely would have had a different plan of attack upon getting the ball here. Even in a positive scenario (assume moderate gain and first down conversion), the use of the last timeout meant that most of the plays run afterwards would be to the sidelines in order to get out of bounds to stop the clock. Also, any field-goal attempt would likely be a scramble drill, not the easiest thing to pull off with an older kicker like Sebastian Janikowski.
• Denver’s defense allowed them to overcome three Case Keenum interceptions.
• Denver targeted Seattle’s linebackers in the passing game, specifically rookie starter Shaquem Griffin. It was clearly part of Denver’s gameplan.
• The Broncos special teams under new ST coordinator Tom McMahon excelled and forced the Seahawks to have to start drives deep in their own territory.
• Seattle’s offense struggled.
Denver’s defense was far too fast for Seattle to do what they wanted to do at the perimeter of Denver’s defense with stretch plays and passes to the running back. I expected to see more of a quick game to slow down the Broncos rush.
Von Miller was statistically quiet for most of the first half, but came alive at the end of the second quarter. And it didn’t stop. He finished the game with three sacks and two forced fumbles.
The Seahawks were 2 of 12 on third down and gained only three yards in their last three possessions.
• Both teams used their personnel well.
Undrafted Broncos free agent running back Phillip Lindsay had the same amount of carries (15) as fellow rookie running back Royce Freeman. Lindsay scored a touchdown and also caught two passes. Lindsay was the most productive of the three rookie running backs in the game (Freeman and Seattle’s first-round pick, Rashaad Penny, who carried the ball seven times for 8 yards and caught four passes for 35 yards).
With Doug Baldwin suffering an MCL sprain early, Seattle’s pass catching options became more limited. Rookie tight end Will Dissly caught three passes for 105 yards, including one touchdown. The backs became a bigger part of the passing offense and quarterback Russell Wilson spread the ball around.