Seahawks’ Defensive struggles?

Maybe it was a sign when the announcer in the press box at Invesco Field credited a tackle to Seahawks middle linebacker Lola Tafufu this just wasnt the defenses day.

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By any name, the same defenders who keyed a season-opening victory struggled mightily Sunday in Seattles 31-14 loss to the Denver Broncos.

While the 369 yards gained by Denver isnt an astonishingly high number by itself, plenty of other stats indicated that it was a rough day for the defense, most notably the fact that Denver converted 14 of 20 third-down chances. That number jumps out even more in contrast with last weeks win when the Seahawks held the 49ers to 1-for-15 on third down.

The defense was really poor today and we couldnt get them out of there, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. We played the run great but we couldnt get them off the field on third down.

Tatupu not Tafufu said the problem was with the execution, not the defensive play calling.

A couple of times we just werent playing smart, he said. We helped them get out of some situations, we jumped offsides once third-and-10 went to third-and-5. … The calls were coming in great, and weve got to figure out the information theyre giving us and make plays, and we didnt do that today.

Thanks in large part to that third-down efficiency, the Broncos were able to score touchdowns on drives of 80, 80 and 79 yards. Denver also got a field goal out of a drive that started at its own 7-yard line.

It wasnt just the third-down struggles that hurt the defense. A week after coming up with two game-changing interceptions, Seattle forced no turnovers, and the pass rush that helped Seattle win last week was all but nonexistent Sunday. Seattle sacked Alex Smith twice last weekend, and more importantly hit him 11 times. On Sunday, Seattle was credited with only one quarterback hit and one sack despite facing a beat-up Denver line that was missing its starting right guard and right tackle.

We had a much more effective rush last time and we werent near the QB today much at all, Carroll said. That makes it hard.

With plenty of time to throw, Orton completed 25 of 35 passes for 307 yards and two touchdowns. His favorite target was rookie wide receiver Demaryius Thomas, who missed the season opener with a foot injury, but caught eight passes for 97 yards and a touchdown in his debut.

Good for him, Seahawks safety Lawyer Milloy said. Its the NFL, the NFL is about opportunities, his number was called today and he stepped up and made some big plays. I definitely know who he is now.