RENTON, Wash. (AP) — The defensive performance Pete Carroll got from his Seattle Seahawks in the Super Bowl last February led to the most lopsided championship game in more than 20 years.
Even though the margin was smaller and overtime was necessary, Carroll came away from Sunday's 26-20 overtime win over Denver believing the Seahawks played better defensively than they did in the Super Bowl.
Hard to believe when 43-8 was the first result.
"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 Monday. "I really thought we played routes better and some things they threw at us, the perimeter screen game that's really just phenomenal for them, we just eliminated it and the guys just did a fantastic job and gave us a chance to play a dominant day of defensive football."
Just how dominant Seattle (2-1) was on the defensive side got overshadowed by what Peyton Manning was able to accomplish in the final minute of regulation, leading Denver to a tying touchdown and 2-point conversion by going 80 yards in just 41 seconds and without any timeouts.
But up until that point, the Seahawks were on pace for one of the best days ever against an offense with Manning under center. Take away the Super Bowl and Manning had never been held to less than 17 points since taking over as quarterback of the Broncos.
For 59 minutes, Seattle limited Denver to 12 points and 252 total yards. It would have been the fewest total yards by a Denver offense under Manning by a wide margin until the final minute. Denver's longest play until the final drive was a 19-yard pass to Emmanuel Sanders.
"We really dominated the whole game," Seattle safety Earl Thomas said. "Both sides had breakdowns, but we made this game hard on ourselves. When you really look at it, we were in control the whole game. We kind of had those backed up situations with our offense and we had a lot of miscues so it put us in a bad spot and we didn't capitalize."
That all changed on Denver's final possession. Carroll said Denver used a specific route combination on four pass plays. Seattle played it well twice. The two times they didn't, Manning hit Sanders for 42 yards and Jacob Tamme on the 26-yard touchdown.
"They did a really nice job and it's just a route principle that we didn't play very well. He took advantage of it and did a great job," Carroll said.
After a gauntlet facing three of the top quarterbacks in the NFL, the Seahawks get a break with a bye before returning to action on Monday, Oct. 6, at Washington. Seattle knew it was going to be a test opening the year facing Aaron Rodgers, Philip Rivers and Manning in consecutive weeks.
Because Seattle is a mostly veteran team, Carroll felt comfortable giving his team the entire week away before getting ready for the 13-week grind that will follow.
Seattle also has an injury concern, making the bye week beneficial. Strong safety Kam Chancellor had discomfort in his ankle in the Week 2 loss to San Diego to the point the Seahawks were unsure of his status to play against the Broncos. Chancellor did not practice last Wednesday, but treatment on his ankle had him feeling better by the end of the week. He played without restriction on Sunday, finishing with nine tackles and a key fourth-quarter interception of Manning.
Carroll said Chancellor's ankle could be something the Seahawks have to manage the rest of the season.
"He was really hampered in the San Diego game and it showed," Carroll said. "He was regretting the way that came out and he was hoping he could get back. We didn't have a great outlook going into the week, we weren't sure, but it turned really quickly on Thursday."