It took a while, but the Denver Broncos stumbled across a sleeping giant Saturday night at Qwest Field.
After marching down field and scoring rather easily to even up the score at 7-7, the Broncos offense started faltering and never regained its momentum thanks in large part to a Seattle front seven that sacked the Broncos’ quarterbacks four times.
That same pressure accounted for a key Seattle interception in their end zone that turned the momentum in Seattle’s favor for the rest of the game.
With a three point lead early in the second quarter, Denver quarterback Kyle Orton was looking to extend the lead and make the score 17-7.
After starting on their own 13, Denver methodically took the ball down to Seattle’s one yard line. With just over three minutes till the half, Denver found itself staring at a fourth and one situation. Orton, flushed out the pocket, scrambled left and the right handed quarterback did something that sent Bronco fans into convulsions, he put the football in left hand. With the ball in his non-throwing hand, Orton attempts a short pass to wideout Brandon Stokely and, instead, finds Seattle cornerback Ken Lucas.
Had Lucas knocked the ball down to the turf, Seattle would have had the ball on their own one, but the savvy veteran hauled in wobbly pass thus getting a touchback and letting his offensive counterparts to take possession at their own 20.
On that drive, with only 2:57 until the half, Matt Hasselbeck and the Seahawks took to the air. With Justin Forsett and TJ Houshmandzadeh being the main benefactors of the series’ passing attack and thanks to a key eight-yard reception by Courtney Taylor halfway through the series on a fourth-and-two, Seattle found itself with 14 seconds to go and two yards between them and six points.
What happened next is why Tim Ruskell brought in Houshmandzadeh.
With Houshmandzadeh sent in motion to the left, Hasselbeck took the snap from under center and, without dropping back or looking off the defender, lobbed the ball up and over the shoulder of a streaking Houshmandzadeh. The newly acquired wideout, beating his defender, hauled in the pass and made it all look effortless.
Instead of going into the half with the score 17-7 Denver, the Broncos found themselves trailing 14-10.
Seattle never looked back and came out in the second half firing on all cylinders.
While still causing problems for the Bronco offense, the Seahawk defensive unit was able to generate excellent field position for its offense.
Second-year kicker Brandon Coutu nailed a 22-yarder with 12:46 to go in the third, making the score 17-10.
A little over three minutes later the Seahawks extended their lead when Seneca Wallace found tight end Joe Newton for a one-yard score.
Seattle tacked on its final points of the game with 1:58 to go in the third with a 52-yard field goal by Coutu, further widening the lead to a tune of 27-10.
Denver’s only points of the second half came in the fourth quarter.
Britton Colquitt nailed a 39-yard field goal, bringing Denver within two touchdowns.