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September 21, 2014 at 9:17 PM

Six thoughts after Seattle’s win over Denver

Here are six thoughts on Seattle’s 26-20 overtime win over Denver Sunday — three each from beat writers Jayson Jenks and Bob Condotta. First, Jenks:

1, That might have been Seattle’s best defensive performance — except for 41 seconds. The Seahawks completely suffocated the Broncos until that game-tying drive at the end of the fourth quarter. Had it not been for that, I think that would have been Seattle’s best defensive performance in some time (Yes, as good as the Super Bowl, even if the stage for this one wasn’t as big). Peyton Manning looked frustrated and rattled, and there were times when he threw the ball so quickly that his intended targets hadn’t fully turned to face the ball. Denver’s running game averaged 1.8 yards a carry and was nonexistent. The Seahawks missed very few tackles and forced the turnovers that have made them so good. But the big, glaring crack in the armor was the way Manning busted that same defense for big plays and the game-tying touchdown in just 41 seconds at the end of the game. That was about the only time the Seahawks didn’t look dominant.

2, That’s the best Cassius Marsh and Kevin Williams have played for the Seahawks. Marsh, the rookie defensive end, and Williams, the veteran defensive tackle, played quite a bit in passing situations during Seattle’s first two games. But Marsh and Williams were at their best, in my opinion, against the Broncos. Marsh had four tackles and was a noticeable factor around the line of scrimmage. Williams had two tackles for a loss and disrupted a couple of other running plays with his penetration. The Seahawks’ starting defensive front is proven and steady, but the backup line has been inconsistent and the Seahawks have been looking for that unit to gel. This could be a step forward for that group.

3, What to make of Byron Maxwell’s performance? So much attention gets thrown Richard Sherman’s way that it also puts an increased spotlight on Maxwell, Seattle’s other starting corner. The catches made on him feel magnified, and the Broncos certainly looked to target him quite a bit, just as Aaron Rodgers and the Packers did in the first game of the season. Maxwell gave up some catches, just as he did against the Packers. But the biggest thing to watch with him is that he doesn’t get beat deep. The Seahawks are generally OK with their corners giving up catches underneath, but they absolutely don’t want to get beat deep (see: Denver’s final drive in the fourth quarter). When the Broncos challenged Maxwell deep down the sideline, he stood up to the test. He’s going to give up yards and catches this season because teams are likely going to go after him, but as long as he doesn’t give up the big play, he should be OK.

And from Condotta:

1. It’s hard to make much more of an impact on a game as a punter than Jon Ryan made on that one. Ryan averaged 50.2 yards on six punts, five of which were downed inside the 20 as the Seahawks continually kept the Broncos pinned deep. He also had a 79-yard punt on a free kick following the safety that also helped push Denver back. It added up to Seattle having a pretty big edge early in average drive start — Denver never began a drive outside of its own 29 in the first three quarters. Ryan didn’t get a lot of recognition last year due to an average of 42.7 per kick. But that was due in large part to Seattle rarely punting from real deep and often using Ryan to directionally kick and prevent returns — recall Seattle for much of the season threatening the all-time NFL record for fewest return yards allowed. But Sunday Ryan got a chance to kick it as long as he wanted most of the time and showed how much of a leg he has.

2. No, Seattle hasn’t forgotten about Marshawn Lynch. While many wondered last week why Lynch got only six carries at San Diego, coaches said all week it was just the way the game went, with Seattle getting only 38 offensive plays. But you knew they’d try to establish Lynch early and often in this one, and they did as he got a carry on four of Seattle’s first seven plays and ended up with 26 carries out of 70 plays. Throw in three receptions in five targets, and Lynch was handed or thrown the ball 31 times out of 70 plays. Robert Turbin, meanwhile, got just two carries for one yard, and also one catch for four yards as Seattle showed again that Lynch remains the “bell cow” back of the team.

3. Don’t underestimate the impact Percy Harvin had on the game. At first glance, it might seem like Harvin had a quiet day, with seven receptions for 42 yards and no carries. But recall how often Seattle put Harvin in motion before the snap, and then faked a handoff to him before handing it to Lynch, or having Russell Wilson keep it and throw or run. The threat of Harvin several times had the defense going one way and then the play successfully going another. “Percy, all day long, was flying around the field and he kept drawing attention and it allowed us to run the ball up inside,” coach Pete Carroll said. “It was a really significant part of the plan. … there wasn’t a time to give him the football today but his factor was still felt.” No doubt, Seattle wants and needs Harvin to be more involved with the ball in his hands — as he was during the overtime period when he had three receptions for 23 yards. But even on a day when he was often a decoy he still had a lot to do with Seattle getting a win.

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