SEATTLE -- The hole that running back Royce Freeman saw early Thursday night was the same type of gap he's seen flash before him throughout training camp.
Left tackle Garett Bolles sealed the left side, taking care of defensive tackle Quinton Jefferson. Left guard Dalton Risner wiped out defensive tackle Jamie Meder on the inside. Fullback Andy Janovich cleared out linebacker Cody Barton at the second level.
With that, Freeman was off, turning third-and-1 into a 50-yard gain that allowed the offense to finish its first drive -- and its only series with Joe Flacco at quarterback -- with a 25-yard Brandon McManus field goal.
Freeman gave the credit to his blockers.
"Garett and Dalton opened it up, leading out through with Jano. I've always loved running behind him," Freeman said.
Bolles tipped his cap to Freeman.
"I came off the ball and hit [Jefferson], widened him out. He came inside, so I just had to finish him," Bolles said. "But it's all Royce, man. He saw the hole. We just did what we had to do up front and the play worked out great."
It was also set up by their work in practice. Defensive end Derek Wolfe has seen those holes created at the expense of the Broncos' front seven. He attributes them to better communication.
"That left side of our offensive line, those two mesh and gel together," Wolfe said. "They work well together. Guys like me and Von try to run games, try and trick them, do stuff like that, and they're not going to fall for that because they're communicating with each other, they're friends with each other, they care about each other."
All that kept the play from being perfect was the only thing Freeman would have changed: He would have made a different move downfield against Seattle safety Tedric Thompson.
"I've got to make a move next time," Freeman said, "but it was good to get out there and break one."
Unfortunately for the Broncos, the ground game struggled after that. Freeman's run accounted for more than half of the Broncos' ground output; their other 19 attempts netted just 41 yards (including a 2-yard loss on a kneeldown at the end of the first half).
FLAG DAY ISN'T JUST JUNE 14
As the game progressed, the infractions mounted. The Broncos committed just one penalty in the first quarter -- a defensive holding call against cornerback Isaac Yiadom that was offset by a Seattle infraction.
In the final three quarters, referee Brad Allen and his officiating crew whistled the Broncos for 14 infractions -- 11 of which were accepted for 94 yards. Seattle was worse; Allen and his crew flung 18 flags against the Seahawks -- 15 of which were accepted for 131 yards.
"It was a highly penalized game," Head Coach Vic Fangio said.
Pre-snap penalties such as false starts, illegal motion and offsides have been a bugaboo for the Broncos during training camp. In Seattle, just one of the penalties was a pre-snap infraction, a 12-men-on-the-field call in the second quarter.
Nine of the 15 flags thrown against the Broncos were for various forms of holding.
"They were penalties during the course of the play," Fangio said. "It's either because you have poor technique or you're not good enough. And if you're either one, you've got to cheat. You've got to grab guys; you've got to hold them, so we've got to make these guys aware of the proper technique and hopefully they're good enough to play honest downs without fouling."
LOCK DROPS A DIME
The pass that will stick from Drew Lock's performance Thursday night was the 14-yard, third-and-11 connection with Troy Fumagalli that launched the Broncos' second scoring drive of the night, a 12-play, 60-yard march to Brandon McManus' second 25-yard field goal.
Fumagalli barely had time to react, as he turned his head a split-second before the football arrived. Lock anticipated Fumagalli's cut and timed his pass perfectly.
The rest of the night was up and down for Lock, who had a chance at a second-quarter touchdown pass to Kelvin McKnight, but was off target, leading the Broncos to settle for the field goal.
But his two-point conversion connection with 3:17 remaining in the fourth quarter provided another glimpse at his potential, as he threaded the needle to Juwann Winfree past three Seattle defenders for the connection that whittled the Broncos' deficit down to eight points.
Lock finished the game with 180 yards on 17-of-28 passing with a 4-yard touchdown pass to Devontae Jackson and a fourth-quarter interception.
MALIK REED DOES IT AGAIN
The undrafted rookie outside linebacker posted a sack for a second consecutive week -- but his takedown of Seattle quarterback Geno Smith was a team effort. Defensive end DeMarcus Walker broke through and provided pressure from Smith's left, forcing him to the right, where Reed was able to escape a blocker and finish the job.
Reed also had an open-field tackle of Seattle quarterback Paxton Lynch early in the third quarter to defuse a run, stopping him in the open field for a 4-yard gain. But he was also part of the parade of penalties that dotted the final three quarters, as he committed a holding penalty with 14 seconds remaining in the third quarter.