Thomas was on the field for all but 10 plays in his first game following his holdout.
DENVER — As long as Earl Thomas could play, there was never really a doubt that he would play Sunday in his first game back after ending his holdout on Wednesday.
But coach Pete Carroll said that with just three practices and a day-before walk-through under his belt, Thomas was also going to be monitored.
“We couldn’t play him the whole time,’’ Carroll said.
Ultimately, Thomas played all but 10 snaps – an entire 75-yard, seven-play scoring drive by Denver in the first quarter and then the first three plays of what turned into another scoring drive by the Broncos in the fourth quarter.
After Denver gained 44 yards on the three plays of the fourth quarter drive, Thomas hustled back onto the field.
Told later how much Thomas had played, Carroll said it was more than he probably should have.
“We were just trying to gauge it as we went and we were trying to not overload him and not get him too many plays at any one time,’’ Carroll said. “The guys just switched him in and out based on kind of what happened and it was not like numbers of plays as much as it was just how much he had to endure when he was on the field and how he was bouncing back. So, we just had to take care of him you know.
“That is a lot of plays for him and that is not what we would have liked. I look at it now and I say I would have liked to have played him less than that. So, what did we play like 60 plays or something like that all total? Yeah, so that was more than we wanted to but he did not want to come out, he wanted to play the whole game and he was awesome about it.”
Thomas said he felt good after the game.
“I felt like my training with my brother and my team back home has been great and has been right on it,’’ Thomas said. “The only thing right now is my big toe hurt and my feet hurt, but that’s about it.”
Seattle also had had Kam Chancellor on a similar pitch count when he ended his holdout in 2015, playing 37 of 47 snaps in a game against the Bears.
Marshall takes blame for offensive pass interference
The Seahawks appeared for a moment to take a 14-7 lead in the second quarter on a 7-yard pass from Russell Wilson to Brandon Marshall.
But the play was nullified due to an offensive pass interference penalty on Marshall for pushing off on Denver corner Adam “Pacman’’ Jones.
And while Seattle fans later questioned the call, Marshall said he couldn’t.
“He (the official) could’ve let it go, but it was the right call,’’ Marshall said. “I didn’t have to do that. ‘Pacman’ (Broncos CB Adam Jones) gave me what I wanted. That really hurt our offense. We were able to get three out of it but coming into a hostile environment like this, every play counts and every drive is important. That was a setback for our offense.”
Marshall said he thinks he’s been called for OPI “probably four times’’ in a career that dates to 2006.
Pete Carroll takes blame for getting challenge flag out late
The Seahawks thought they had forced a turnover on Denver’s third drive when Royce Freeman fumbled and Seattle appeared to have the recovery.
But the officials ruled Freeman was down by contact and Denver – going no-huddle — got the next play off before Carroll could get the challenge flag out to have the play reviewed.
Carroll said he should have gotten the flag out more quickly but also said he wasn’t sure what had happened on the play since he didn’t see the fumble.
“They went fast, they were going fast and I had a couple of seconds to throw it and I’ve got to find an official,’’ Carroll said. “It kind of set me back for a moment and I just delayed and they were going so fast that they got it off. I threw it, but he said it was too late to call it, which I’m sure he was right about that. I just needed to respond a little bit faster. I didn’t hear the word from upstairs as quickly as I needed to get it executed before they hurried up.
“They did a nice job of getting on the ball. I never even saw the play, I just went on what my guys told me upstairs that the ball was loose and we just didn’t get it. We just missed it by a second and unfortunately, we didn’t get it done. There was enough time to do it, if I just threw it, but I had to do it kind of blindly because I didn’t get the words. That’s how the hurry up does help you, once in a while.”
Russell Wilson takes blame for three sacks
Wilson was sacked six times, which will undoubtedly draw lots of criticism of an oft-criticized Seattle line from those who just see the numbers.
But quarterbacks can also be to blame for not getting the rid of the ball as quickly as they should — or getting rid of it at all. And Wilson later took the blame for three of the sacks, though he also noted that on two — which each came on third down in the fourth quarter — he was trying to keep the play alive, something he has done well in the past.
“I think a couple of those were on me,’’ Wilson began, before elaborating. “Granted, third down, I am trying to make a play. If it’s not there, I am not trying to just give up on the play. I would definitely say probably three of those are on me just trying to make a play and it’s not there. It’s a part of the game. I lot of great things have happened when I’ve scrambled. A lot of good things have happened like the (20-yard) touchdown to Brandon (Marshall in the third quarter). It was third down. It wasn’t there. I moved a little bit then boom – touchdown.
“You just have to play the game. I thought our line did a really good job. They made a couple plays obviously. Obviously, the first play of the game, then also in the second quarter Von (Miller) made a really nice one. I take the blame for some of those for sure. It is just playing ball, trying to go for it, trying to find something and make something happen.”
The sacks resulted in some significant lost yardage — 56 yards overall including 22 on the last play of the first half when Seattle had driven to the Denver 41, and 13 on another in the fourth quarter.
“I think that when it’s third down and three or four, I’ve spun out and made a lot of plays,’’ Wilson said when asked about the impact of the lost yards. “I would probably say most of the time, it works. Sometimes it doesn’t. With a guy like Von, sometimes it doesn’t. I can throw it away — that is always an option too. I think we have a really good punter though. The good thing is he can kick it all the way at the end of the field so I take my chances.”
Turnovers finally come
The Seahawks’ defense failed to force a turnover in four preseason games.
On Saturday, the dam finally broke.
“It’s really just Seahawk football,” said Bradley McDougald, after the sixth-year safety snagged two interceptions and free safety Earl Thomas added another in defeat. “Pete (Carroll) drives that home every day. He’s talking about the ball. ‘It’s all about the ball. It’s all about the ball. It’s all about the ball. Go get the ball. Whether you’re punching it out or getting it out of the air, go get the ball.’
“We showed that we’re capable of doing that. We didn’t have any in the preseason. To come out in the first game and take away the ball really means something.”
It didn’t mean everything on Sunday, though, as Denver managed to pile up 470 total yards and 329 passing yards in a 27-24 victory.
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McDougald said the Broncos’ offensive success had more to do with the Seahawks.
“It’s really us. It’s us. It’s us,” McDougald insisted. “Guys have to make better reads or make better schemes or communicate better. They did a good job of going hurry-up tempo or no-huddle, and guys have to communicate better.
“I know we’re tired. I know we’re working hard, but guys have to communicate better and get to where you’re supposed to be.”