The Seahawks were able to overcome a shaky first half and behind the solid play of quarterback Russell Wilson, defeated the Denver Broncos 30-10 Saturday night. Here are some thoughts on what I witnessed and some points I took out of the game.
Flynn took chances, but looked average: Something that was talked about by mostly everybody including myself after last week’s game was that Matt Flynn looked good but was very vanilla in terms of deciding where to throw the ball. He played safe last week and I wanted to see him take more chances down the field in Denver. Flynn took more chances but unfortunately he was inconsistent. Some throws were his fault and others were the receivers fault. A couple passes specifically, a pass intended for Kellen Winslow sailed high and through the endzone, was clearly a Flynn blunder. Another pass which has to be mentioned is a 46 yard pass to Terrell Owens that would have been a touchdown. Flynn put the ball right into Owens’s hands and he dropped the ball. As “Hawk Blogger” tweeted after the game if T.O. would have made that catch, Flynn’s would have been 7/14 for 77 yards and a passer rating of 158.0. Instead, Flynn finished 6/13 for 31 yards and a 57.4 passer rating.
Speaking of T.O.: Terrell Owens had every opportunity tonight to show Coach Carroll that he deserves a spot on the 53-man roster. Instead he did not catch any passes that were intended for him. The target that hurt him the most was the long would-be touchdown pass. Owens should consider himself lucky that Braylon Edwards did not have any catches tonight either because that would have made his night even worse. What I also noticed was Owens’ body language on the field. Very early on Owens seemed to look frustrated that some passes were not thrown in his direction. He would slightly flail his hands up in the air, trying to show Flynn that he was open. I know Owens has stated that he is now very humble and gracious to have this chance but I wondered what would happen once he stepped on the field. My worry was that his prior attitudes would flare up again in the heat of the moment. The sample size is way too small to make assumptions at this point but Owens did look slightly frustrated at times. Owens will get a big chance next week in Kansas City to prove he belongs on this team and if he does not take advantage, I believe the T.O. experiment will be cut short. You cannot impress in practice and not have it translate in a game. It has to be a two-way deal.
Russell Wilson deserves a chance to play with the first- team unit in a game: After going 10/17 for 155 yards and two touchdowns, I think Russell Wilson is gaining legitimate ground to challenge for the starting quarterback job and definitely deserves the chance to play with the starting offense sometime in the next two weeks. The Seahawks scored 21 points in the second half thanks in large part to Wilson’s play. Wilson once again did a great job splitting defenders and is not afraid to air it out. Wilson’s most impressive play was a first-down conversion to Lavasier Tuinei in the fourth quarter that tricked the television cameraman. It looked as though Wilson was just going to throw the ball away on the rollout to his right but he threw a floater to the sideline and Tuinei reeled it in. Two plays later, Wilson connected with running back Tyrell Sutton for a 34 yard touchdown pass. Wilson is a very smart quarterback. I have said this before and he continues to show why I have that opinion of him. With the starters expected to play into the second half next week against Kansas City, I do not think Wilson will get the chance to start but he may get the chance to start when the Seahawks finish up the preseason in two weeks against Oakland.
MVP of the game: My MVP of tonight’s game was corner back Jeron Johnson. The second-year defensive back from Boise State had 4 tackles and also picked off Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning in the second quarter. Johnson played the majority of the game and was the definition of “ball hawk” tonight. Wherever a play developed, Johnson found a way to be around it whether he directly contributed or not. Johnson made the team last year and primarily contributed on special teams. After a solid outing Saturday night, Johnson has a really good chance of making the team this season.
My critique of Peyton: For the most part, Peyton Manning looked good enough. Good enough to be a solid quarterback fully capable of getting the Broncos in contention for the AFC West title. Manning did not look as sharp as has looked in the past, but what do you expect from a 36-year-old quarterback coming off two spinal fusion surgeries who hasn’t played in over a year? A lot of Manning’s passes looked wobbly but he managed the offense with ease. He was able to pick apart the front seven of the Seahawks for the majority of the first half but made key mistakes that cost the Broncos points. Manning proved a couple things to me after Saturday’s game. First, he has the arm strength to throw the ball deep down the field. He was unsuccessful against “the legion of BOOM” (The self-given nickname of the Seahawks starting secondary), but if he has to make a deep throw, he can. Secondly, Manning can take a hit. The Seahawks were not able to record a sack on Manning but we knocked him to the ground on multiple occasions. None of our quarterback hits were too hard and none were to the head/neck. Manning has yet to be hit hard in game action since his recovery so time will tell if he is durable enough to last after hard contact. Best of luck to him this season and here’s to a healthy Manning in 2012.
A potential (fantasy) sleeper: There has been a lot of talk over the offseason about the chemistry building between Peyton Manning and Broncos wide receiver Eric Decker. It is believed that Decker is the player to draft in fantasy football over flanker Demaryius Thomas. However after tonight I believe there is a super sleeper hidden on the Broncos depth chart; none other than Brandon Stokley. Stokley, a Seahawk in 2010, was a teammate of Peyton Manning in Indianapolis from 2003-2006 and was arguably Manning’s most trustworthy target out of the slot. In Saturday night’s game, you could tell the Manning-Stokley combination this season could be deadly after Stokley caught a team-high three catches for 41 yards. As a decent fantasy football player *cough cough* I believe that Decker and Thomas will put up good numbers but do not forget about Stokley. If Stokley makes the team expect Manning to throw his way a good number of times.
Broncos D haven’t missed a step: The first team Denver defense looked really sharp Saturday night, sacking Flynn once and flushing him out of the pocket multiple times. Elvis Dumervil and Von Miller will be a deadly duo rushing the passer this season. A combination of Peyton Manning’s play and the young, dominating Broncos pass rush will go a long way in securing the division title this season.
Random Thoughts: The weather did not play as big of a factor as I thought. When I went to Denver two years ago game time temperature was in the high 90’s. The high in Denver Saturday night was in the high 70’s. Very comfortable for a night game… I was glad to see us finish the game in great health. The only injury off the top of my head at this moment was tight end Anthony McCoy getting the wind knocked out of him in the second half… Marshawn Lynch saw some playing time early on in the game. After every handoff I quickly prayed that he did not get hurt. The last thing we can have is our star running back be sidelined for any amount of time… Our uniform combination was white jerseys and blue pants. The combo looked good but I would have liked to have seen white pants instead of blue… The Broncos brought back their orange jersey as their primary home jersey this season. Peyton Manning looks the weirdest in a navy blue helmet and orange jersey in my opinion. My buddy Alan has been waiting for a shout-out on my blog so here it is. There is nothing like brats, beer, friends, and football. Great to watch the game with Alan and have him pick my brain about the team. Can’t wait for us to go to the Cowboys game next month buddy!
The team landed safely in Seattle late last night. The Seahawks will take Sunday off before getting back to practice in preparation for the game against Kansas City next Friday. Thanks for reading everybody. See you back here tomorrow!