The Seattle Seahawks may not like having a bye in Week 4 -- the earliest a team can get one in the NFL.
But they do like the way they are entering their week off, with a 2-1 record in a season-opening three-game stretch against three teams that all made the playoffs a year ago.
Seattle concluded that gauntlet Sunday with a 26-20 overtime win against Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos.
Seattle led 17-3 heading into the fourth quarter before a turnover led to a 19-yard drive, and then allowing a surprising 80-yard drive in 41 seconds to tie the game with just 18 seconds left.
But Seattle won the coin toss to start overtime and drove 80 yards for a touchdown to win it before Manning and the Broncos could get the ball back.
Seattle also easily dispatched Aaron Rodgers and Green Bay in Week 1, stumbling only in the sweltering heat of San Diego against Philip Rivers and the Chargers.
"Just about the best three you could throw at us quarterback-wise," Seattle coach Pete Carroll said Monday. "And I think we learned that when we don't fly around the field like we normally do that we can have a bad day, like happened in San Diego. We just couldn't get our game going the way we wanted to play it -- didn't look anything at all like what you saw against the Packers or Denver.
"We have to maintain that tempo. Our guys tried really hard but they just didn't have it against San Diego. So we have a real style that we play to, a real mentality that we play to, and when we do it we can control football games and I think we felt that throughout the Denver game. We really felt very much in control of that game."
Indeed, Seattle allowed Denver just 36 rushing yards on 20 carries and only one drive of more than 35 yards until midway through the fourth quarter.
"I was anxious to see if we would play and look like we played back in the Super Bowl against these guys as far as breaking on the ball and running and hitting, and I thought we did better," Carroll said. "I really thought that we played routes better and some things that they threw at us, the perimeter screen game which is phenomenal for them, we really eliminated it. Our guys did a fantastic job and allowed us to play a dominant day of defensive football."
Carroll said the team simply had some breakdowns in coverage responsibility on two plays on Denver's final drive that led to completions of 42 and 26 yards, the latter tying the game on a Manning pass to tight end Jacob Tamme.
But Russell Wilson then expertly led an 80-yard drive to start overtime to win it, making Wilson now 7-0 against Manning, Drew Brees, Tom Brady and Rodgers in his career.
Seattle doesn't have any injury issues heading into the bye. But Carroll said he wants his players to take the week off to rest up as much as possible; the Seahawks won't practice again until next Monday when it will begin preparations for a game at Washington on Oct. 6.
--Defensive back DeShawn Shead, a backup cornerback and safety and key member of special teams, made headlines after the Denver game when he proposed to his girlfriend on the field in front of numerous family members and teammates. His girlfriend, Jessica Martinez, said yes.
--Bryan Walters appears to have solidified the punt return job after handling five attempts against Denver with an average of 7.2 per return without any hiccups.
--Punter Jon Ryan had one of the best days of his career with a 50.2-yard average on six attempts leading to a net punt of 47.7. He also had a 79-yarder on a free kick following a safety.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "You don't have a choice so we are going to try to make it as good of a factor as possible. Come back (next Monday) get two days work before we will break on Wednesday and then right through a normal week. So we will have an advantage going into the (Washington) game, a physical advantage. We should be up and really on our feet and in great shape." -- Seattle coach Pete Carroll on having a Week 4 bye and then preparing for a game at Washington on Monday, Oct. 6.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
--S Kam Chancellor is battling an ankle injury that could last all season, said coach Pete Carroll. Fox Sports reported after the game that Chancellor debated having surgery to repair bone spurs in his ankle following the San Diego game. Carroll said only that the injury "really got in the way" of Chancellor's play in the loss to the Chargers and said it's possible it's something Chancellor will be dealing with all season. "We'll see," Carroll said. "Managed it really well (against Denver)."
--CB Tharold Simon was scheduled to run Monday for the first time since having surgery a few weeks ago on his knee. But head coach Pete Carroll said it is too early to know if he will be able to play against the Redskins.
--LT Russell Okung suffered a strain in his shoulder late in the second quarter when he had to leave the game. Okung then returned to play the entire season half.
--DE Bruce Irvin did not play against Denver after suffering a rib injury in practice last week but should be back for the Redskins.
REPORT CARD VS. BRONCOS
PASSING OFFENSE: B-minus -- Sort of an up-and-down day for the Seahawks passing game. There was only one big play, a 39-yard touchdown to Ricardo Lockette on a go route down the sideline in the second quarter. The rest of the day was mostly short routes and checkdowns as Denver's secondary had the Seahawks well-covered much of the time. Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson also had some uncharacteristic throws, including a fourth-quarter pass that was tipped and intercepted and allowed Denver to get back in the game. But Wilson was also on target in the overtime session, going 4-for-6 for 35 yards to lead the Seahawks to the winning touchdown.
RUSHING OFFENSE: B -- Mostly a return to form in this area after the Seahawks rushed just 13 times in last week's loss to San Diego. Seattle had 15 carries in the first half against Denver on the way to 37 for the game with Marshawn Lynch having one of his usual-looking stat lines: 26 carries for 88 yards. However, the running game struggled at times on straight-ahead runs, with Seattle getting many of its biggest plays off of zone reads or misdirection plays, with Denver's defensive line often winning the battle at the point of attack.
PASS DEFENSE: B-plus -- The Legion of Boom looked like its old self against the Broncos -- for all but 41 seconds, anyway. Seattle allowed a late 80-yard drive due largely to completions of 42 and 26 yards in busted coverage against the same Denver route concepts. Otherwise, the Seahawks pretty much executed their game plan of allowing Denver some completions but keeping everything underneath and making the Broncos have to go on long marches. Seattle also came up with a critical turnover when safety Kam Chancellor intercepted a pass deep in Denver territory late in the fourth quarter that appeared to seal the game and set up a Seattle field goal. Richard Sherman also played well, and nickel back Marcus Burley had a solid game in limiting the production of Denver's Wes Welker, who had six catches but for just 60 yards. And Chancellor helped lead what was a good day on Denver tight end Julius Thomas, holding him to three catches for 17 yards, a recovery from the struggles the previous week against San Diego's Antonio Gates.
RUSH DEFENSE: A -- Just about a perfect game in this area as Denver managed just 36 yards on 20 attempts with no gain longer than 10. The Broncos seemed to want to establish the run early with 14 attempts in the first half. But those netted just 15 yards and Denver basically gave up on the run in the second half.
SPECIAL TEAMS: B -- Punter Jon Ryan might have been the player of the game, averaging 50.2 yards on six punts and also hitting a 79-yarder on a free kick following a safety, all of which helped Seattle dominate the field position battle most of the day. The coverage units were also stellar, led by receiver Ricardo Lockette. But a rare missed field goal by Steven Hauschka left the door open for the Denver comeback, and Percy Harvin was a non-factor as a returner with Broncos kicker Brandon McManus booting all but one kickoff for a touchback, and then appearing to coerce Harvin to make a bad decision to return another from the end zone, getting only to the 9-yard line.
COACHING: B-plus -- There was no panic in Seattle after the loss at San Diego last week. Pete Carroll trusted his team and system and the Seahawks simply got back to basics last week and it paid off in a feel-good win heading into the bye week. Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell made the call of the game with the go route to Ricardo Lockette a couple of plays after Denver cornerback Aqib Talib had jumped a short route to almost make an interception. Seattle took advantage of Talib's aggressiveness to steal a touchdown. Seattle also was on point with its play calls in the overtime with a safe approach to move down the field and win the game. One quibble might be how safe Seattle played it on its last possession of regulation to settle for a field goal and an eight-point lead. Still, it's hard to fault thinking its defense could hold that lead with 59 seconds to play.
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