ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- With No. 18 at the helm, Brock Osweiler only gets so many opportunities to show why the Broncos selected him in the second round of the 2012 NFL Draft.
His wait to relieve Peyton Manning Thursday night against the Seahawks was pushed back even further by Mother Nature.
"I was like 'Shoot, I've been waiting six months to play,' and a lightning delay happens," Osweiler said with a laugh.
But after a 45-minute delay and a little bit of a sluggish start, Osweiler gave Bronco fans plenty of reasons to cheer.
At the end of the third quarter, his numbers were underwhelming. The second-team offense had emphasized the running game and a few vertical attempts had fallen harmlessly to the ground. On the final play of the third quarter, Osweiler looked deep again, throwing from the edge of his own endzone for Gerell Robinson 30 yards downfield, only to have the pass picked off.
Manning said after the game that it wasn't exactly a bad decision.
"That interception -- I was watching from the sideline, and I was saying throw it to the same guy, myself," he said. "It was one of those that the guy looked open when you throw it, and once the ball leaves your hand, there's plenty you'd like to have back.
If the throw had come a tad sooner or led Robinson a bit deeper, it might have been a big play for the offense, but instead, Osweiler dropped to 3-for-6 for 20 yards and an interception for the game. But he didn't let the turnover get to him.
"I liked the fact that we were backed up and he made a throw that I know he'd like to have back, but then he came back and had a short memory and finished the game very well," Head Coach John Fox said.
"That's something that [Quarterbacks] Coach [Greg] Knapp preaches all the time in the quarterback room -- having short-term memory," Osweiler said. "No matter what happens the play before, you've got to erase, and you've got to move forward. That was something that we were able to finally put into a game situation."
After a Seahawks' field goal put Seattle up 16-14 with 11:26 to play, Osweiler reorganized the troops and marched 80 yards in 10 plays, converting three third downs along the way. When receiver Bennie Fowler dropped what would have been a nice gain, Osweiler went right back to him on 3rd-and-10 for 17 yards. A few plays later, Osweiler showed his quick feet, eluding the pass rush and scrambling for 15 yards on 3rd-and-14.
He finished the drive on the next play with a gorgeous pass -- Manning called it "a heckuva throw" -- up the seam, hitting receiver Jordan Norwood in stride for a 34-yard touchdown to retake the lead. It was Osweiler's first touchdown pass since his first game in a Bronco uniform, Week 1 of the 2012 preseason in Chicago.
Take a look at photos from the Broncos' preseason matchup against the Seahawks.
"There's a lot of trust I have in Jordan," Osweiler said. "We saw pre-snap they were in man-to-man [coverage]. He's been running great seams versus man [coverage] all camp, so I put a lot of trust in him. Jordan made a great play, and the offensive line gave me time."
In addition to the nice bounceback drive, Osweiler's feel and movement against the Seahawks' pass rush was very encouraging. With his basketball background, he's always had good mobility for his size. But Thursday he anticipated defenders closing in on him, moving at the right time to slip through sack attempts while keeping his eyes downfield.
Osweiler's overall performance was even more impressive considering the opponent.
While exhibition victories don't count for anything, the nine-game preseason win streak the Seahawks carried into Thursday night illustrates the team's impressive depth, particularly on defense. Seattle allowed just 36 points in four preseason games in 2013 and held the Broncos to 20 total points in exhibitions in 2012 and 2013.
That Osweiler led the Broncos to two touchdown drives -- the other went 57 yards in five plays, capped by a Kapri Bibbs 3-yard run -- against such challenging competition is a big step forward from 2013.
"Every preseason the game just continues to slow down, especially as I become more familiar with the offense and, like I said, knowing where the ball should go versus certain coverages," he said. "Hopefully this is something we can build upon."
Osweiler will get that chance next week against another stingy defense when the Broncos visit the 49ers. At least so far, his annual turn in the spotlight is off to a strong start.