ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – The Broncos rallied in the fourth quarter and overcame a 14-point deficit. While it was a great comeback, the Broncos have a lot of room to improve. As Peyton Manning said after the game, "[We will watch] film to learn from, both some of the good things we did and some of the negative things."
Welker makes impact in return
After missing five consecutive regular season games dating back to 2013, Wes Welker made his return to the field on Sunday. While suspension has kept him away from the Broncos' facilities, he seemed to be in midseason form.
He finished the day with six catches for 60 yards, four of those catches resulted in first downs.
"I just tried to help out where I could," Welker said after the game. "There are definitely plays where you wish you could have back, but we didn't play at our best today. We came up short because of it."
One of those plays is likely when a pass intended for Welker, while in triple-coverage, was picked off by Kam Chancellor at the Seattle 13. The interception seemed to seal the Broncos' fate as it occurred with just 2:25 left on the clock and the Broncos down by eight.
The play also caused a scare because Welker was leveled by Earl Thomas on the play. Some called for a flag for a hit on a defenseless receiver.
"I asked the referee about it and he said 'well he caught the ball first, right?' So it's your call, it is what it is—nothing you can do about it," Welker said.
While the call didn't go the Broncos way, they still marched downfield on their next drive to tie. The result wasn't what Welker had hoped for in his return, but he was glad to be back on the field.
"Just being out there with my teammates and trying to help out and not watching from a TV," Welker said. "It was great to be out there with the guys and I wish we could have come out with a win, though."
Run game unable to take off
Manning said the Broncos were forced to become "one-dimensional" on Sunday. Virgil Green's injury and the Seahawks building a big lead forced the Broncos to throw the ball.
But, even when they did utilize their ground game, the Broncos couldn't find rhythm.
The difficulties on the ground began on the first play of the game as Montee Ball made a great run up the middle, but Earl Thomas stripped the ball from him and it was recovered by the Seahawks at the Denver 23.
"Yeah the ball was too low," Ball said. "This team, they do a great job of just going straight for the ball first. And I knew that coming in, so I can't blame anybody else for that."
The Broncos attempted 14 running plays in the first half that totaled just 15 yards. Two of those attempts were on third-and-long in the second quarter, both in Broncos territory and both unsuccessful.
With just 36 rushing yards on 20 attempts in the game, the Broncos couldn't get going. The Broncos put Ronnie Hillman in the game in the second half.
Ball said, at this point he would describe his season as "not too good at all." But, he clarified that it's only Week 3 and that the Broncos have plenty of time to improve.
"We are getting better, making improvements," Ball said. "We are going to make things happen in the backfield, change some things up probably and get this thing rolling. We're most definitely committing to it (the running game). It's just some things are not going to well for us. We knew this was going to be an ugly game, two great teams playing, I think this is going to make us better."
Defense lets down in overtime
Blaming the defense for Sunday's loss would be unfair and incorrect.
Russell Wilson and his plethora of weapons were held to just 20 points during regulation.
While the defense gave up 17 points in the first 30 minutes, Head Coach John Fox said, "I felt like our defense kept us in the game in the first half."
In the second half, the defense allowed just a field goal, picked off Wilson and caused a safety.
The defense's shining day ended in disappointment. Two of the best quarterbacks in the NFL were facing off on Sunday and both solidified their statuses as such during their last drives of the game.
Russell Wilson led his team 80 yards downfield in overtime. The Broncos defense couldn't contain Wilson as he ran for 21 yards and completed four passes for a total of 35 yards. The drive was capped off by a Marshawn Lynch game-clinching touchdown run.
The Broncos offense had just started to gain momentum after their game-tying touchdown drive, but Manning and Co. didn't get the opportunity to come back on the field for overtime.
"It's tough, it hurt," Terrance Knighton said after the game. "Just the fact that they ran the ball in—we felt like we were the better team, we felt that we could come in here and get a victory—it didn't work out that way but we improved as a team and I think it's a perfect week for our bye week, get our minds right, come out and get things rolling down the stretch."