RENTON, Wash. (AP) Demaryius Thomas caught the short pass but never got the chance to turn up field. Before he could break away, as he did so many times for Denver during the 2013 season, Thomas was flattened by Seattle strong safety Kam Chancellor.
That moment came on the third offensive play for Denver in the Super Bowl. And it was a tone-setting moment for the entire night during which the Broncos were bullied by the Seahawks.
”The way we out-hit them. It was like every time they touched the ball on their check downs we were smacking them left and right,” Seattle linebacker K.J. Wright said.
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Seattle’s ability to control the Super Bowl with its physicality stood out almost from the first snap. Whether it was with the big hits like what Chancellor laid on Thomas, or Seattle’s defensive line collapsing the pocket and disrupting the timing of Peyton Manning and the Denver passing game, the Seahawks simply overpowered the Broncos.
”I believe that was the best game we have played,” Wright said this week. ”I didn’t see any missed tackles. I didn’t see too many explosive plays.”
It’s hard to believe the Seahawks will equal that amount of success when Denver travels to Seattle on Sunday. The most prolific offense in NFL history was held to 280 passing yards and most importantly could not turn those short passes into long gains as it had throughout the season.
Denver averaged 6 yards after the catch throughout its record-setting 2013 regular season. According to STATS Inc., the Broncos were limited to 3.9 yards after catch by the Seahawks in the Super Bowl.
Chancellor’s big hit on Thomas was just the start. But it was a theme that played out throughout Seattle’s blowout.
”I think it was just as important as any hit in the game,” Chancellor said. ”I think any hit can set the tone in any part of the game from anybody. Whenever we get an opportunity to do it we want to set a tone every game.”
Wright said the principles for how Seattle approached the Broncos fell within what the Seahawks had done throughout the season. The Seahawks limited big plays over the top, forced Manning to keep everything underneath and rallied to tackle.
That’s very similar to what San Diego’s game plan was last week against the Seahawks. Except Seattle struggled to keep Philip Rivers in the pocket and then failed to make tackles in the open field. The Chargers finished with 167 yards after catch, the most allowed by Seattle since the start of the 2013 season, according to STATS.
”The way our defense is structured those passes are going to be open, but the key is when they catch it just to punish them and make sure they don’t get any more yards after that,” Wright said. ”If they catch it, like you saw last week, if they catch it and get 13 yards they can do that all game. But if they catch it and go down right then, we can get them in third down and get off the field.”
If nothing else, the loss to San Diego forced a refocus inside the Seattle locker room. Defensive coordinator Dan Quinn noted Seattle had 12 missed tackles versus the Chargers. Safety Earl Thomas spoke of regaining his ”championship spirit,” not realizing that feeling was gone until he was coming to grips with losing to the Chargers.
”My crave, my hunger, and my desire to be unstoppable (is) back,” Thomas said. ”I don’t think I lost it, but after that game I was like, `Dang, something just hit me,’ and I’ve just been focused ever since and it feels so good just to be feeling like this.”
NOTES: RB Marshawn Lynch (back) was a full participant in Thursday’s practice after sitting out on Wednesday. Chancellor (ankle) was also a full participant. … LB Bruce Irvin was a new addition to the practice report with a rib injury. TE Zach Miller (ankle) also missed his second straight practice.