Sports

Seahawks suffer reversal of third-down fortunes

DENVER - Just a week after stifling San Francisco, the favorite to win the NFC West, the Seattle Seahawks’ defense could not get off the field against Denver.

The Seahawks limited San Francisco to 1-of-15 success on third downs a week ago in the team’s easy win over the Niners.

But Sunday’s game against the Broncos was a different story, as Denver finished 14 of 20 on third down. That efficiency included one third-and-14 conversion and two on third-and-8.

Denver also dominated the ball, running 74 plays to Seattle’s 56, and finishing with a 37:27 to 22:33 advantage in time of possession.

“It was terrible,” safety Lawyer Milloy said. “We want to be more like we were last week. We did a pretty good job getting them into third-down situations, and for whatever reason we weren’t ready for the challenge. … It’s something we definitely have to correct because it’s not how we play.

“You earn the right to get to third down and then you seize the moment. And we didn’t do it at all today.”

Perhaps the most critical of those third-down conversions was a third-and-7 play from Denver’s 23 with 8:23 to go in the third quarter. With Seattle still in the game at 17-7, Broncos quarterback Kyle Orton threw wide to Brandon Lloyd and Seattle appeared to force a punt. But a late flag flew in, and cornerback Marcus Trufant was whistled for a questionable pass interference call.

The Broncos used the break to go down and score on a Knowshon Moreno 1-yard run eight plays later, taking a commanding 24-7 lead.

“That really helped them because it gave us an opportunity to get them off the field again and we didn’t get to do that there,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said.

DEMARYIUS WHO?

One player Seattle did not game plan for was Denver rookie wide receiver Demaryius Thomas. The reason was simple – the Georgia Tech product had not played in any exhibition or regular-season games because of a foot injury.

But the Seahawks know now what to expect from the 6-foot-3, 230-pound receiver who caused matchup problems on the perimeter of their defense. Thomas finished with eight catches for 97 yards, including a 21-yard touchdown reception.

“The NFL is about opportunity, and his number was called today,” Milloy said. “He stepped up and had some real big plays. I definitely know who he is now. … I definitely saw him on the field a lot making big catches, so good for him.”

THURMOND OWNS UP

An explosive returner in college, rookie Walter Thurmond had been waiting for an opportunity to showcase what he can do at the next level.

But what happened against Denver wasn’t what he had in mind.

A year removed from major knee surgery, Thurmond was called upon to return a punt in the opening quarter, and he responded by muffing a 58-yard punt that Denver’s Cassius Vaughn recovered at Seattle’s 13.

Four plays later, Broncos quarterback Kyle Orton found receiver Eddie Royal for a 13-yard touchdown.

Thurmond made no excuses for his miscue.

“I just dropped the ball, just poor technique is all it was,” Thurmond. “I mean, I could have said the ball went into the sun. I could have said a whole bunch of things. But it was poor technique, that’s all it was.”

RUNNING GAME REVS

After struggling to run the ball in the opener against San Francisco, the Seahawks finally created some daylight against Denver on Sunday.

Seattle finished with 109 yards on 20 carries for an average of 5.5 yards per carry.

Starting running back Justin Forsett led all Seattle rushers with 44 yards on eight carries, including a long of 19 yards.

“In (the) second half (of last week’s game) the run started to work for us,” Forsett said. “And I think it carried over to this week. Guys started working together, and we’re starting to get used to everybody and the terminology and things like that with the new guys. We’re just starting to work together now, and I think it’s improving every week. So that’s a good sign for us.”

ERIC D. WILLIAMS: 253-597-8437 ERIC.WILLIAMS@THENEWSTRIBUNE.COM BLOG.THENEWSTRIBUNE.COM/SEAHAWKS

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