The threat of lightning interrupted the game almost as much as the penalties (25 accepted) as the Seahawks’ nine-game win streak in preseason ended in Denver.
The Broncos restored a bit of football pride to Denver, thwarting the Seahawks’ potential go-ahead touchdown drive with an end-zone interception late in the fourth quarter that sealed a 21-16 victory Thursday night at Mile High Stadium and ended Seattle’s exhibition-win streak at nine.
In a game fractured by a 46-minute lightning delay and 25 penalties, 12 on Seattle for 131 yards, the Super Bowl entrants stopped their chippiness long enough to get touchdown drives engineered by their star quarterbacks, Peyton Manning and Russell Wilson. Then they settled into full-contact tryouts for second- and third-stringers, as well as officials who appeared to be learning the rules changes as much as the players.
Besides a Wilson-led TD drive that went 91 yards in the second quarter and ended his evening, backup QBs Tarvaris Jackson and Terrelle Pryor each led scoring drives. But Pryor’s final pass, a 12-yarder as he rolled out to his right, was picked off in the end zone by linebacker Steven Jackson.
Pryor otherwise had a mostly noteworthy game of nine completions in 16 attempts for 137 yards and avoided being sacked. He ran seven times for 28 yards, but a few of those seemed to come from scrambles early in pass plays that hadn’t set up.
Early in the fourth quarter, Pryor led a drive that began at the Denver 26 after a leaping interception by cornerback A.J. Jefferson, the Seahawks’ only turnover of the game. The drive reached inside the 10 before Pryor’ third-and-two scramble lost yardage. Steven Hauschka’s third field goal of the evening, a 22-yarder, put the Seahawks up 16-14 with 11:22 left, but left the door open for the Broncos.
Backup QB Brock Osweiler took 10 plays to move the Broncos 80 yards, the last 34 on a pass to Jordan Norwood, who beat CB Terrell Thomas for the decisive score with 7:22 remaining.
Defensively, the Seahawks had stout games from undrafted rookie free agent Brock Coyle, who started at middle linebacker in place of injured Bobby Wagner and impressed with five tackles. Another rookie, DL Cassius Marsh, had four tackles and a sack. Jefferson also had three passes defensed before leaving game with an ankle apparently sprained.
Seattle opened the game missing three stalwarts from the offensive line. LT Russell Okung, LG James Carpenter and C Max Unger were held out because of injuries. The right tackle spot was manned by overmatched rookie Justin Britt. Only RG J.R. Sweezy was a regular who started.
After the first Seattle drive fizzled, Denver went up 7-0 on a one-yard pass from Manning to Wes Welker, completing a 61-yard drive that took nine minutes, nine seconds, or two minutes longer than the longest drive in the Broncos’ 2013 season.
As the play ended a scuffle broke out in the end zone and Seahawks LB K.J. Wright was called for unsportsmanlike conduct, the sixth penalty of the drive. On the ensuing kickoff, SS Jeremy Lane was called for taunting, even though the kickoff was a touchback.
The game was halted for 46 minutes because of the threat of lightning strikes. But the storm cells passed without bringing lightning or even rain.
Wilson late in the first period led Seattle to its only touchdown. Two of the biggest plays were Wilson scrambles where he dropped deep to escape the rush, reversed his field and threw passes that drew penalties.
The drive was sustained by two more Denver penalties until RB Christine Michael scored from one yard out to tie the game at 7. The Seahawks, operating without Marshawn Lynch, who didn’t make the trip, rushed for 94 yards in 29 carries.
The teams meet for the third time in 2o14 Sept. 21 at the Clink.