Everyone knows exhibition results are inconclusive. But after two fake games, the Seahawks are conclusively on the edge of yet another quarterback controversy.
Is rookie Russell Wilson the Seahawks best quarterback?
The rookie from Wisconsin was in complete command in second half Saturday night in Denver, taking the Seahawks on three touchdown drives after nominal starter Matt Flynn in the first half was confined to three field goal drives. And last year’s starter, Tarvaris Jackson, has yet to play in the preseason.
Wilson’s ability to turn potential negative plays into positive plays bordered on the remarkable and was the most compelling development in the Seahawks’ 30-10 win over the Broncos.
Wilson threw two touchdown passes — 34 yards to Terrell Sutton and 10 yards to Cooper Helfet — but it was his ability to avoid sacks and create first downs that stood out. Most notable was s third-down play in the third quarter with the Seahawks up 16-10.
Wilson was in the grasp of a Broncos pash rusher and falling down, yet managed to loft an eight-yard pass to the sideline that was caught by Lavasier Tuinei for a first down at the Demnver 34-yard line.
Two plays later, he flipped a quick screen pass to Sutton, who despite an absence of blockers, weaved through the Broncos defense for a touchdown and a 23-10 lead.
For the game, Wilson completed 10 passes in 17 attempts for 155 yards and two touchdowns, while adding a crucial 37 rushing yards, all on plays when he was flushed from the pocket. All five TDs in the Seahawks’ 2-0 preseason start have come under the direction of Wilson, who in his senior year at Wisconsin set an NCAA record for passing efficiency.
In the first half, Flynn was 6 for 13 for 31 yards. Flynn had trouble with the first unit in executing in the red zone after the Seahawks’ defense set him up with shorter fields following three turnovers, including two picks of Peyton Manning, making his home-field debut.
Most notably, Flynn targeted starting WR Terrell Owens five times and didn’t connect once. But it wasn’t all Flynn’s fault. In the second quarter, Flynn threw a perfect ball on a post pattern to Owens, who distanced himself from the defense but dropped the ball.
The Broncos led 10-9 when Wilson took over in the second half. On the second play, Wilson dodged a would-be sacker and scooted up the middle for a three-yard gain. After three short runs by rookie RB Robert Turbin as well as a 10-yard pass reception, the Seahawks were set back by a roughness penalty on OG Deuce Lutui.
Wilson then sent a bullet over the middle to tight end Anthony McCoy, who caught the ball for 26 yards and a first down at the Denver 35. After an incomplete pass, Wilson took a deep drop and was again flushed from the pocket, broke free and headed to the sideilne for an 11-yard gain and a first down.
Three rushing plays later, Kregg Lumpkin bounced outside for a 16-yard touchdown run and a 16-10 lead. The Broncos, who rested Manning after the first half and went with rookie Brock Osweiler from Arizona State, had little answer.
The story of the first half was the Seahawks defense, even though it gave up one 80-yard, 11-play drive led by Manning. After a blocked Seattle punt gave Denver its first possession at the Seahawks 13, defensive end Red Bryant put up both giant paws and batted a Manning pass into the air. It eventually fell into the hands of linebacker K.J. Wright, who returned it to the Seahawks 36.
But the 11-play drive produced only a 43-yard field goal by Stephen Hauschka. After the Broncos answered with their lone touchdown, Seahawks defensive back Jeron Johnson stripped the ball from a Broncos running back for a first down at the Denver 46. Several plays later, Flynn hit Golden Tate with a 19-yard pass in the end zone, but the receiver couldn’t get his feet down and Seattle settled for another field goal.
The Seahawks took a 9-7 lead with 2:39 left in the half on another field goal after a drive stalled, thanks to a penalty for fighting on OT Breno Giacomini, who seemed to have a temper problem with two roughness penalties. The drive was set up by an interception by Johnson, who basically stood in place downfield as Manning considerably overthrew his receiver.
A field goal with two seconds left gave the Broncos a 10-9 halftime lead.
Notable by the their injury absences were TE Zach Miller (concussion) and WR Doug Baldwin (hamstring).