The first road game of the Pete Carroll Era of the Seattle Seahawks had a familiar feel to it.
With temperatures on the field in excess of 100 degrees, the Seahawks turned the ball, committed untimely penalties, and its defense could not get off the field on third downs as the host Denver Broncos rolled to a 31-14 win on Sunday.
Seattle’s offense started hot, with Matt Hasselbeck connecting with Deon Butler three times on third down during the first drive, including an 11-yard strike that gave the Seahawks first-and-goal from the one-yard line.
A false-start by new starting right guard Stacy Andrews and a holding penalty on right tackle Sean Locklear pushed the Seahawks back to the Broncos’ 16-yard line. Two plays later, an underthrown ball by Hasselbeck would be intercepted by perennial Pro Bowl cornerback Champ Bailey.
After the Seahawks’ defense stopped the Broncos, 2010 fourth-round cornerback Walter Thurmond muffed the punt, which the Broncos recovered at the Seattle 13-yard line.
Three plays later, Broncos quarterback Kyle Orton hit Eddie Royal, who rolled into the end zone for a touchdown.
Orton had a big day against a Seahawks front-seven, which failed to generate much pressure in its first road test of the 2010 season. Orton completed 25-of-35 passes for 307 yards and a pair of touchdowns, including a 21-yard connection with first-round wide receiver Demaryius Thomas, who led all receivers on Sunday with 8 receptions for 97 yards in his NFL debut.
Broncos running backs Knowshown Moreno and Correll Buckhalter were limited to just 70 yards on 35 carries, but each punched in a touchdown on Sunday.
The story of the day on Sunday was the Seahawks’ miscues.
Though Hasselbeck completed 20 of his 35 pass attempts for 233 yards and a touchdown, with an additional touchdown on the ground, he was intercepted three times, including twice inside the Broncos’ 20-yard line. Hasselbeck also failed to hook up with tight end John Carlson, who caught just 5 of the 10 passes thrown his way for 48 yards.
Hasselbeck’s decision-making can also be called into question, as two scoring drives stalled when Hasselbeck attempted to throw low-percentage passes toward Deion Branch, who was blanketed each time by Bailey. A poorly thrown pass by Hasselbeck intended for Carlson was intercepted by veteran safety Brian Dawkins.
After catching four passes for 46 yards on the opening drive, Butler appeared to disappear from the offense, which didn't seem to feature 6-5, 230-pound Mike Williams in the offense. Williams was limited in practice last week with a thigh bruise.
Seattle was finally able to find a way to get second-round pick Golden Tate onto the field.
Tate had an electrifying 63-yard punt return in the 3rd quarter that helped set-up Seattle’s first points, an 11-yard touchdown from Hasselbeck to Ben Obomanu. On Seattle's next possession that quarter, Tate had a 52-yard catch-and-run that put the Seahawks in scoring position.
The Seahawks turned the ball over on downs.
Tate had a 19-yard punt return, and has likely solidified a role for himself on special teams in that capacity.
The Broncos responded with a back-breaking 10-play, 80-yard touchdown drive, which was aided by a questionable pass interference flag on Marcus Trufant on a 3rd-and-8 play that kept the drive alive.
At that point, the Seahawks defense appeared to run out of gas. One week after holding the San Francisco 49ers to just 1-of-15 (6%) on third downs, Seattle’s defense allowed the Broncos to convert on 14-of-20 attempts, leading to the Broncos dominating the time of possession nearly a full quarter (37:27 to 22:33).
Notes: Safeties Lawyer Milloy (8) and Earl Thomas (7) led the team in tackles..Raheem Brock had his 1st sack as a Seahawk, and his 29.5 sack overall…Ben Hamilton started at left guard in place of Mike Gibson…Leroy Hill left the game with a calf injury in the 3rd quarter…Russell Okung, Chester Pitts, Evan Dietrich-Smith, Anthony McCoy, Cameron Morrah, E.J. Wilson, Matt McCoy, and Nate Ness were inactive for the Seahawks.
In addition to writing for NorthwestFootball.net, Brian McIntyre blogs daily at Mac's Football Blog. You can follow Brian on Twitter, and if you’d like to e-mail him, you can always do so by clicking here.