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Continuing the Trend

Posted Aug 28, 2011

The starting defense for the Broncos had another smothering performance, holding the Seattle Seahawks to 39 first-half yards in a 23-20 win.


DENVER -- If the third preseason game is the best taste of the regular season, opposing offenses beware.

The defense sacked Tarvaris Jackson five times and held the Seattle Seahawks to just 39 yards, two first downs and three points in the first half en route to what became a tight 23-20 victory.

It marked the third consecutive week Denver held its opponent to three first-half points.

"Our defense is playing - I mean, it's inspirational out there watching those guys, seeing how hard they are playing and what they have been able to do," Julius Thomas said.

Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil led the attack with multiple sacks each, and Jeremy Jarmon and Wesley Woodyard got to the quarterback as well. Through three games this preseason, the Broncos' defensive starters have held opposing offenses to just 3 yards per play.

"You will never play the perfect game. We can always reach for perfection," safety Brian Dawkins said. "Now that being said, you like what you see right now. We have a bunch of guys that are making plays at different times. We are not depending on one individual to make plays."

Meanwhile, the first-team offense put up some fireworks of its own.

Kyle Orton played the entire first half and a drive in the third quarter, finishing the day with 236 yards, one touchdown and an interception on 16-of-23 passing -- good for a 99.2 passer rating.

The offensive starters orchestrated three scoring drives -- a 2-yard Willis McGahee touchdown run, a 57-yard Matt Prater field goal and a 6-yard touchdown strike from Orton to Eric Decker.

The success came after a first quarter that included an interception, three penalties and what amounted to two three-and-outs.

"It's a good feeling on offense to know that you can kind of go out and sputter just a little bit and still be in the football game," Orton said. "The defense played great to keep us in (the game). We've got a very good offense, and like I told those guys, there aren't going to be too many teams that can slow us down for four quarters."

While the Broncos starters commanded the first half, the game turned into a close battle in the fourth quarter, thanks in part to what has become a rare play at Sports Authority Field at Mile High -- a kickoff return.

On consecutive drives, Tarvaris Jackson threw a 1-yard touchdown to trim Denver's lead, and Tim Tebow orchestrated a scoring drive capped by a 40-yard Matt Prater field goal to bring the cushion back to 10.

But the ensuing kickoff was caught 5 yards deep in the end zone and brought out by Doug Baldwin -- the first return in Denver after 16 consecutive touchbacks to start the preseason. Baldwin proceeded to return the kick 105 yards for a touchdown, bringing the score to 20-17 in Denver's favor.

"That's one of the disadvantages of the new rule -- you don't really get a chance to see many kick returns," Head Coach John Fox said. "That was a self-inflicted play, too, because we were offsides the play before, which actually gave them an opportunity to even bring it out. It will be something we will learn from. I'm glad it happened in the preseason and not the regular season."

Then with 1:21 remaining, Seattle's Jeff Reed tied the game at 20 with a 53-yard field goal, and it looked as if the teams were headed for some overtime preseason football.

But Tim Tebow took over at his own 23-yard line with a chance to execute a two-minute drive for the win.

"I think I am pretty comfortable in those situations," Tebow said. "Especially when the defense comes out and plays 'two-man' on the first snap. That's something that I look for instantly."

On the first play, Tebow quickly scrambled for 19 yards. He followed that up with a 26-yard screen pass to Lance Ball, pushing the ball to the Seattle 32-yard line.

Kicker Steven Hauschka stood on the sidelines, knowing his name could be called to execute a game-winning kick.

"When Jeff (Reed) hit that game-tying field goal, I knew I was probably going to have a chance to win it," Hauschka said.

And sure enough, after a fumbled snap and a 4-yard run, Hauschka trotted in to knock home the game-winning 51-yard field goal.

With two preseason wins under their belt, the Broncos aren't ready to set their sights on Week 1 quite yet, but Saturday's dress rehearsal had the team excited about getting back on the field.

"We've still got one more game next week in Arizona," Robert Ayers said. "We're going to prepare and try to go up there and get another win and try to make it three in-a-row, so when Oakland comes we'll be ready for them, too."