What happened: In the much-hyped meeting of the NFL’s No. 1 offense vs. the No. 1 defense, the Seahawks defense played maybe its best game of the season. Peyton Manning was picked off twice in the first half. He had pressure in his face for most of the game. He drove the Broncos inside the Seattle 20 once in the first half — but was stopped short on 4th-and-2. The Seahawks turned Drew Brees into an average quarterback twice this season, but this was more impressive. This was Peyton Manning, in consideration for the greatest quarterback of all time. He had the best season of any quarterback and led the best offense in the NFL. The Seahawks made him look like Carson Palmer.
The good: Normally I write a good and bad section after games. But there really wasn’t much bad to go around. A few penalties maybe and settling for field goals inside the Seattle 10, but that’s nitpicking in a blowout. Plus, there’s enough good to go around. K.J. Wright looked a little slow two weeks again after returning from an injury, but he was all over the field against Denver, even covering Wes Welker. Percy Harvin had two carries for 45 yards in the first half and also returned a kickoff 87 yards for a touchdown. Russell Wilson missed a few throws but was sharp on third down and avoided the costly mistake.
Worth noting: The Seahawks talked all week about how they weren’t going to change much defensively. They run a simple, vanilla defense, and they were going to roll that out against Manning and Co. But the Seahawks did make one strategic adjustment: They played their nickel package the majority of the game. Here’s what that means: The Seahawks played three cornerbacks and two linebackers and used Clinton McDonald and Michael Bennett at defensive tackle. That meant that starting defensive tackles Brandon Mebane and Tony McDaniel as well as defensive end Red Bryant played limited snaps against the pass-happy Broncos. By using a smaller, quicker defense, the Seahawks were able to counter Denver’s explosive wide receivers and tight ends.
Player of the game: Take your pick on this one. K.J. Wright, Cliff Avril, Kam Chancellor, Malcolm Smith all are worthy of consideration. It’s hard to pick just one, but if I had to, I’ll go with Chancellor because he controlled the middle of the field. He set the tone right away with a big hit on Demaryius Thomas, picked off Manning on an overthrown ball and continued delivering big hits all game. But again, you could go with any of those other guys as well.