The biggest and most obvious flaw in last season’s Denver Broncos roster was their overwhelmingly soft makeup. The Seattle Seahawks said it multiple times throughout the season. I have heard a spattering of fans admit to it. John Elway didn’t come out and say it, but he made a decidedly audible statement with his actions.
Although the final 21-16 score may not reflect it the Broncos came out of the gates on Thursday night with vengeance in their eyes and hatred in their hearts.
The Broncos starters utterly dominated the first quarter on both sides of the ball. They were the more physical team. They pushed the Seahawks around in a way that was eerily reminiscent of the way the Seahawks handed it to the Broncos last preseason. It was clear that the Broncos wanted to make a statement to every last one of their doubters that nobody will stand in the team’s way.
I know it was a preseason game, and it clearly meant a lot more to the Broncos than to the Seahawks, but we also know that Pete Carroll doesn’t take the preseason lightly, going undefeated in his previous nine games. There is no way he was happy with the energy his team gave to start the game.
The stats tell the entire story. Prior to the extended lightning delay near the end of the first quarter, the Broncos dominated time of possession, 11:50 to 1:40, owned the passing game with 78 yards to Seattle’s -1, and looked better in the run game, gaining 15 yards to the Seahawks’ one. The Peyton Manning to Demaryius Thomas connection clearly hadn’t lost a step, connecting on five catches for 52 of those yards.
If it wasn’t for penalties, the Seahawks wouldn’t have had any business even being in the game heading into the half, let alone holding a 10-7 lead. The Broncos picked up eight very questionable penalties in the first half, one of which led directly the Seahawks’ first touchdown of the game. It felt a whole lot like the refs were trying to stress some new points of emphasis at the Broncos’ expense.
Don’t let the halftime score fool you. The Broncos were clearly the better team. Everyone on the field knew, and everyone watching the game knew.
The second half played out much like you would expect a preseason game to play out. Penalties galore, assignment mistakes, players out of position. It got ugly, but there were some bright spots. Fourth-string running back Juwan Thompson looked absolutely incredible. He ran with speed and power, and looked the part of a No. 1 running back rather than someone competing for a roster spot.
Defensive end Quanterus Smith was very impressive with the consistent pressure he put on the quarterback all evening, and he continues to solidify his position on this team. Wide receiver Jordan Norwood even flashed some in the kick return game, but came up big on the receiving end of a 35-yard strike from Brock Osweiler in the fourth quarter.
It’s hard to say that a rivalry can exist between two teams in different conferences, but this matchup certainly has all the makings of one. Seahawks cornerback Tharold Simon was ejected in the third quarter for unsportsmanlike conduct after striking the helmet of a Broncos player. There was pushing and shoving throughout the game. Tempers flared, even on into the waning moments of the game.
I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait until Week 3 when these two teams meet with something on the line. Let the rivalry begin.