DENVER – Seventeen fourth-quarter points were enough to make the Seahawks’ exhibition game at Denver a nail-biter that the Broncos won on the game’s final play.
Those 17 points weren’t sufficient to overshadow the concerns about Seattle’s starting offense.
Tarvaris Jackson was sacked five times, the offense went five consecutive drives without gaining so much as a first down – a drought that spanned more than 25 minutes – and the Seahawks’ starters scored their only touchdown after Denver’s first-string defense was on the bench.
The Broncos won Saturday night’s game 23-20 at Sports Authority Field on a 51-yard field goal by Steve Hauschka, the Broncos’ backup kicker, on the game’s final play.
The Seahawks scored a touchdown in the first minute of the fourth quarter, rookie receiver Doug Baldwin scored on a 105-yard kickoff return later in the period and Jeff Reed tied the game with a 53-yard field goal with 1:16 remaining.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do,” coach Pete Carroll said, “and I know there’s not much time. But we’re real clear where our issue is.”
It’s only August? No. It’s already Aug. 28, and Seattle is running out of time to find any semblance of rhythm before it begins playing for real in San Francisco on Sept. 11.
Seattle gave up three sacks in the first half, gained only two first downs in the first two quarters and never got inside the Denver 30 until the end of the third quarter after Denver had removed its starting defense.
Now all these foreboding numbers warrant a caveat or perhaps an asterisk. It is an exhibition game so it can’t be taken at face value. This is time for practice and preparation. The Seahawks went 4-0 in exhibition games in 2009 and went 5-11 in the regular season.
The starters did score points, which was an improvement.
Reed kicked a 52-yard field goal in the first quarter and Seattle scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns.
But this month Seattle’s first-string offense has been consistently dreadful enough to warrant concern even if these games don’t count.
“We didn’t protect very well,” offensive guard Robert Gallery said.
Jackson was under constant pressure, rookie right tackle James Carpenter was made to look like a turnstile by fellow rookie Von Miller and Seattle’s four possessions in the second quarter failed to produce a first down and produced a net total of 7 yards of offense.
It took seven quarters this month before Seattle’s offense finally scored a touchdown: a 1-yard pass from Jackson to tight end Dominique Byrd in the first minute of the fourth quarter.
It was brutal. Notably worse than the two previous exhibition games, which wasn’t exactly easy. Seattle’s first-unit offense did not score with Jackson at quarterback in either of the first two exhibition games.
But the Seahawks moved the ball in those games. They gained 41 yards on the first two possessions at San Diego. They had 139 yards at halftime last week against Minnesota.
Saturday in Denver was something else entirely. The difficulties were sustained and they were repeated. Denver pass rushers Miller and Elvis Dumervil got consistent, overwhelming pressure against Seattle tackles Carpenter and Tyler Polumbus.
Seattle trailed 10-3 at halftime, the Broncos’ lead keyed by Willis McGahee’s 2-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. Denver led 17-3 after Eric Decker’s 6-yard touchdown catch in the third quarter.
Seattle’s best drive of the game started with 2:39 left in the third quarter when Jackson finally had time to set up in the pocket.
The Seahawks were missing starting running back Marshawn Lynch, who was held out with an ankle injury, and left tackle Russell Okung remains out with an injured left ankle.
Sea—FG Reed 52
Den—McGahee 2 run (Prater kick)
Den—FG Prater 57
Den—Decker 6 pass from K.Orton (Prater kick)
Sea—Byrd 1 pass from Jackson (Reed kick)
Den—FG Prater 40
Sea—Baldwin 105 kickoff return (Reed kick)
Sea—FG Reed 53
Den—FG Hauschka 51
|Total Net Yards||183||450|
|Time of Possession||25:18||34:42|
RUSHING—Seattle, Washington 8-33, Forsett 6-23, M.Robinson 1-3, Clayton 3-2, Tate 1-(minus 3). Denver, Moreno 10-47, Ball 6-37, McGahee 10-25, Tebow 4-25, Johnson 3-10, K.Orton 1-4.
PASSING—Seattle, Jackson 13-22-0-93, Whitehurst 5-8-0-53. Denver, K.Orton 16-23-1-236, Tebow 6-11-0-93.
RECEIVING—Seattle, M.Williams 3-30, Obomanu 3-19, Clayton 2-28, Baldwin 2-19, Washington 2-19, Durham 2-11, Rice 2-11, A.McCoy 1-8, Byrd 1-1. Denver, J.Thomas 4-70, Royal 4-62, Decker 4-45, Willis 3-24, Lloyd 2-32, Fells 1-29, Ball 1-26, Johnson 1-23, Moreno 1-11, Larsen 1-7.
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