The Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks met in the first preseason game at Mile High Stadium on Thursday night. It was the first meeting between the two teams since they played in a one-sided Super Bowl six months ago. While Denver won Thursday’s game 21-16, it was only a small measure of revenge. Nothing can take away the sting of being dominated by the Seahawks 43-8 in the championship game. However, it did show a glimpse of what Denver might bring to the regular season.
While it was a typical preseason game, filled with penalties and some sloppy play, most analysts and fans were looking to see a new physical Broncos style. They were not disappointed, as the Seahawks were unable to dominate the game like they did six months ago.
Denver’s new additions to the defense, De Marcus Ware, Aqib Talib and T.J Ward, made immediate impacts. Ware was a force off the edge and recorded a sack, while Ward supported the running game and wound up with a sack and two penalties. Until he left with a shoulder injury, Talib played well in coverage and run support. The return of Derek Wolfe and Rahim Moore from injuries also helped to solidify the defense. Once Von Miller returns from his ACL surgery, the Broncos may have one of the best pass rushing units in the league. Overall the defense appears to be vastly improved from last year’s edition.
Both teams kept their starters in through the first quarter of play, but Denver’s first string offense played in only two series, one resulting in an 81-yard touchdown drive. Manning looked sharp as he completed 10 of 13 passes and, unlike in the Super Bowl, he was rarely under pressure. The offensive line’s play was also vastly improved from the Super Bowl, as they kept the pocket intact and gave Manning ample time in the passing game. Much of their success can be attributed to the return of Ryan Clady, who was stellar in protecting Manning’s blind side.
With starter Montee Ball out after an appendectomy, the running game was of particular interest. Ronnie Hillman and C.J. Anderson inherited the main running duties and both played well. It was the second unit of Juwan Thompson and Kapri Bibbs, however, that had a major impact on the game after C.J. Anderson left with a concussion. This position bears watching as the team may only keep three running backs on the roster.
While Manning, with his 10 of 13 passing, was exceptional, Osweiler was average at best. Osweiler only completed half of his passes and had one pass intercepted. However, it was not all negative. He did connect with Jordan Norwood on a beautiful 35-yard touchdown right up the seam. Now in his third year, Osweiler is expected to make dramatic improvements in his game if he is to be Manning’s heir apparent.
The game also featured an unusual 30-yard extra point, something the NFL is considering. It did not appear to affect the kickers as all four extra points were converted successfully.
All in all, the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks first preseason game provided a glimpse of what is to come. These teams will meet again during the third week of the regular season in Seattle, with much more at stake. If Thursday’s game is any indication of the future, it should be a hard-fought match, and one any football fan should be eager to watch.
Commentary by Hans Benes