Immediately following the Seattle Seahawks victory Sunday, Denver players and media, as well as some national writers, spoke of how the Broncos have closed the gap on Seattle. Mike Tanier of the Bleacher Report even used the word “significantly”. The reason most often used, is the 2014 version of their defense. They allegedly played the Hawks tougher and were more effective.
Let’s see what is fact and what is fiction.
[table id=12 /]
The numbers above represent Seattle’s offensive performance in two games. Column I is from the Super Bowl, while Column II is Sunday’s game.
Those numbers represent, in order:
- Russell Wilson‘s Passing Yards
- Russell Wilson’s Passing TDs
- Marshawn Lynch‘s Rushing Yards
- Total Rush Yards
- Marshawn Lynch’s Receiving Yards
- Total Yards
From those numbers it’s clear that Denver’s D has lost ground. For Peyton Manning and his offense, a few stats decreased. Time of possession was down, although number of plays were up. Rushing yards went down, showing John Fox’s continued lack of confidence in Montee Ball. And Manning’s number of completions were down, but to be fair, yards-per-attempt went from 5.7 to 6.3.
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A couple more observations: Seattle’s defense and special teams didn’t score Sunday. Denver’s passing game against Seattle had fewer issues than in February, keeping Seahawk defenders out of the end zone. Special teams took Percy Harvin‘s return game out of the contest by kicking the ball over his head. Those improvements are noteworthy.
I am a little curious of what the odds are that a team would lose possession on the first play in consecutive games. No safety for Seattle on Sunday though.
Overall, Seattle’s defense locked down the Denver offense until 0:58 left in regulation. Denver’s offense is still far too dependent on its quarterback. Most worrisome for fans and the team? Their head coach is a conservative in-game manager. It’s a football sin to be 3rd and 9 and 3rd and 10, then opting to run, instead of utilizing the greatest arm the game has seen. Obviously February is still fresh in his mind. Fox inconceivably tapped out.
Seattle and Denver are the class of the NFL. And make no mistake, the order is still Seahawks then Broncos. And the gap? It’s not closed. Actually, it’s as far apart now as it was seven months ago.
Losing such a hard fought game is tough for any team. For Denver, the reality is even more difficult.
For Wilson and Seattle, their will to win can overcome the best in the NFL. Don’t expect that to change with #3 leading the way.