Once again, Peyton Manning did enough to tantalize Denver Broncos fans. He led a touchdown drive and did enough to allow the first team to depart with a 10-9 lead, which the backups squandered in a 30-10 loss to the Seahawks at Sports Authority Field.
But once again, interceptions sullied Manning's night.
Manning amassed 177 yards by completing 16 of 23 passes -- a ratio that would have been higher if not for a pair of drops by WR Eric Decker and TE Jacob Tamme. He led the Broncos into scoring range on a well-executed two-minute drill late in the first half. He even absorbed his first hit, from Seahawks DEs Greg Scruggs and Bruce Irvin, and came up none the worse for the wear, much to the relief of a home crowd that applauded loudly after Manning arose.
But Manning also threw two interceptions. The first was deflected at the line of scrimmage by Seattle DT Red Bryant, which sent the football into the hands of K.J. Wright. The second, in the second quarter, saw Manning overshoot TE Joel Dreessen, who was running down the seam but couldn't catch up to the pass, which Seattle safety Jeron Johnson intercepted.
Dreessen, who looked as though he would have been clobbered had he stretched out for the football. Nevertheless, Dreessen took the blame for the play.
"I've got to find a way to make that catch, honestly," Dreessen said. "I kind of stuck my hand up there and I was like, 'Crap, I don't know if I can reach it.' I looked like I gator-armed it."
At times, the first-team offense moved with the precision of Manning's best Colts teams. He completed six consecutive passes after his first interception and seven of his next eight after his second. The two-minute drill that Manning led after Johnson's interception would have ended in a touchdown if Tamme had not dropped a potential 10-yard score at the goal line with six seconds left in the first half.
But the two interceptions -- combined with a Lance Ball fumble in the second quarter -- left the offense frustrated. The breakdowns were few and minuscule at times, but they were costly.
"Little things, but little things can turn into big things. We need to get them fixed," said WR Brandon Stokley. We're just lucky it's preseason."
Backups break down: When second- and third-teamers entered en masse after halftime, the Broncos unraveled.
Defensively, they couldn't keep pace with Seattle QB Russell Wilson, who eviscerated Denver with three touchdown drives -- all covering at least 68 yards apiece. Offensively, QB Brock Osweiler took all the snaps after halftime, and under the rookie's direction, the offense failed to gain traction, completing 5 of 11 passes for 38 yards and finishing with a 54.4 rating. RBs Knowshon Moreno, Xavier Omon and Jeremiah Johnson combined for just one yard on three carries and were swarmed each time they received a handoff.
The offense mustered just one first down in the second half, and the Broncos were outgained 302 yards to 37 after halftime.
"I'm concerned with all our depth, really, at this point," Broncos coach John Fox said. "I think there's some guys out there that can play better than they did tonight because they are young and need some of those reps."
Injury report: WR Andre Caldwell suffered a rib injury early in the fourth quarter after absorbing a blow from Seattle safety Chris Maragos. LB Nate Irving suffered a rib injury later in the quarter after absorbing a glancing blow from DE Jamie Blatnick. LB Mike Mohamed left the game with a hamstring injury, which scuttled his chance to work with the second team at middle linebacker. CB Josh Moore left early with a hamstring injury.
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