ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – ** The Broncos' 21-16 victory over the Seahawks doesn't have an impact on the standings, but the matchup did shine some light on the team's offseason progress.
Thursday night was the second longest preseason game in Broncos history -- partially due to the 46-minute lightning delay but the nearly four-hour marathon of a matchup can also attributed to the flood of flags thrown.
The Broncos racked up 12 penalties for 95 yards while the Seahawks had 13 calls against them.
"Yeah, I think it is disruptive but we kind of had a feeling that type of game was coming," said Head Coach John Fox. "We'll look at the plays on tape and any questions we have as normal we will send to the League. That is an area we've got to look at and make sure we are adjusting. We will look at that just like we do everything else."
Neither team could find consistent rhythm due to the onslaught of flags and long runs by Juwan Thompson and Kapri Bibbs were called back by two consecutive holding penalties.
The Broncos first touchdown drive of the game took 9:09 off the clock, more than two minutes longer than any of the team's scoring drives in the 2013 regular season and postseason. The 14-play, 61-yard drive included six flags, including a pair of offsetting penalties.
"I don't think I've ever had an 18-play drive in the preseason," Manning said. "We had a number of those last year it seems like. You don't like to have the penalties that kept setting ourselves back, but it was nice that we were able to overcome those penalties, which is something we did do a lot last year. It was good to get that drive into the end zone."
While the offense found a way to the end zone despite the number of calls, penalties on the other side of the ball kept the Seahawks' touchdown drive alive in the second quarter.
Four infractions on defense allowed the Seahawks to drive down the field for a 90-yard touchdown drive that ate up 9:18. A face mask call on T.J. Ward on 4th-and-1 in Denver territory allowed the drive to continue. Later in the drive, a pass interference call on Danny Trevathan in the end zone put Seattle on the one-yard line and Christine Michael ran it in to tie the game on the next play.
"Well, we had a really sloppy football game tonight and when you have 25 penalties in a game it's going to be kind of messy," said Seahawks Head Coach Pete Carroll. "That kind of shrouded the game I think from both sides."
Manning, Thomas Connect
An offseason apart and Demaryius Thomas missing the first few days of camp seems to have had little effect on the duo's ability to make big plays. The two were only on the field together for two drives, but they connected five times for 52 yards.
If you just looked at the Thomas and Manning bond, it appeared that the two picked up where they left off at the Super Bowl -- where Thomas had 13 catches for 118 yards, the former a Super Bowl record.
Thomas said he was glad to come back after the Super Bowl and find ways to convert.
"It was good to come back out and be able to go out and get open and catch the ball, to come off a game where I had 13 catches," Thomas said. "It felt good to go out and convert on third downs and keep moving the ball and that's what we've been working on and I think we put up some good football to go watch and to work on."
While averaging 10.4 yards per catch in the preseason matchup, Thomas' receptions were also clutch -- three of them being third down conversions. Thomas consistently got open against Byron Maxwell and, like last season, seems to be Manning's favorite target early on.
"Obviously he's got great strength, great size," Manning said. "He's a hands-catcher, so even when there is tight coverage, he can go out, extend and catch it in his hands. He seems like he's always, kind of, going forward, too, which is good. I think he got a little help from [C] Manny [Ramirez] on that one third down conversion. Demaryius missed the first week of training camp, obviously, with the tragedy in his family, so it was good to get him out there and get some good game reps with him. I thought he looked really good."
Offseason Acquisitions Make Impact
When the Broncos signed DeMarcus Ware early in the offseason, they knew he was special and that he would provide a unique skillset to the defense. During his limited playing time on Thursday night he proved how much of a threat he is and just how much he can bring the Broncos defense.
His first three plays as a Bronco set a strong tone for his future with the team.
He aided the defense in allowing running back Robert Turbin just a one-yard gain, pressured Russell Wilson into throwing an incompletion, which was later nullified due to a penalty, and then sacked Wilson.
"That's what they brought me here for: to create big plays and to get pressure on the quarterback," Ware said. "And that's what I love to do. So, having the opportunity to rush with guys, when Von comes back, and playing with Knighton, guys that really like to get after the quarterback, and actually Knighton likes to run, he likes to get a lot of tackles. It's just a good opportunity, and getting the job done."
"We didn't give him a lot of action just because he has had a little nick that we've been dealing with," Head Coach John Fox said. "We just wanted to get his feet wet as far as with the guys, with our team, and I haven't seen the tape yet, but I felt his presence."
While it was T.J. Ward's holding penalty that invalidated Ware's excellent quarterback pressure on second down, Ward blitzed and sacked Wilson in the middle of the second quarter. Ward's face mask penalty on 4th-and-1 gave the Seahawks a first down in the red zone.
His discipline was lacking, but he was aggressive while he was on the field. Steven Johnson said Ward and Ware were "flying around."
"I mean little mistakes can be tweaked and altered and fixed," Ward said. "But if you're not out there playing your hardest and giving your maximum effort then you have a long way to go. But guys out there are playing really hard and you see the passion and the effort out there."
Aqib Talib had a hard, open-field tackle on Phil Bates but also got called for a hold, moving the sticks on 3rd-and-9.
While the first team defense committed five penalties, the newcomers did have an impact during their limited playing time.