In the closing seconds of the Seattle Seahawks’ 26-20 overtime win over the Denver Broncos on Sunday, Peyton Manning stood alone on the sideline. His hands were on his hips, as the chances to fasten his helmet’s chin-strap to orchestrate a game-winning drive slipped away as the Seahawks marched 80 yards on 13 plays.
Marshawn Lynch’s 6-yard touchdown run capped overtime’s only series, and left Manning and the offense stranded on the sideline after converting points in two of the final three possessions in Seahawks’ territory to force overtime.
“It proved to be too little, too late,” Manning said.
Indeed, it was.
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A series earlier, Manning did all he could, marching the offense 80 yards in 41 seconds to find Jacob Tamme for a 12-yard touchdown reception, and Demaryius Thomas on the conversion to force overtime Sunday at 20-20 after the Broncos trailed by as many as 14 points (17-3). That came after Chris Harris’ interception of Russell Wilson to set up a five-play, 19-yard drive to cut the deficit to 17-12.
But in-between was a failed opportunity with 2:12 remaining when Kam Chancellor picked off a pass intended for Wes Welker on third-and-11 from the 24, a failed drive that Manning called “disappointing.”
“We had the chance to take the lead,” said Manning, who completed 31 of 49 passes for 303 yards, “which would’ve put us in the position to win the game.”
The final three drives were nothing like what happened through the first three quarters, where they mustered three points and had almost as many run plays (14) as total completions (18). Counting February’s Super Bowl XLVIII and the first three quarters Sunday, Denver had just 11 points on Seattle’s defense.
In his season debut after missing the first two weeks of the season while suspended for violating the league’s drug policy (a suspension that was cut short following the league and players’ association new policy agreement), Welker made an impact during the final three scoring drives. Targeted nine times by Manning, he finished with 60 yards on six receptions.
Cornerback Marcus Burley’s big test was facing Welker. The Seahawks went to their nickel defense much of the time when Welker was in (47 total snaps), but even so, Denver opted for its ground game on third-down situations, particularly after tight end Virgil Green left with a concussion in the second quarter.
“... It limited some of the things we wanted to do (with formations), and I thought we became one-dimensional because of his injury,” Manning said. “That is not what you want to do with these guys (the Seahawks) — you want to be balanced and give them different personnel groupings.”