The "Super Bowl XLVIII rematch" between the Broncos and Seahawks hardly lived up to that tongue-in-cheek billing and was overall pretty sloppy, even for a preseason game. The pace was slow, the game was delayed for 45 minutes because of lighting in the area, and the teams combined for 25 penalties for 226 yards. All in all, a forgettable matchup, but at least for Denver fans, we got to see a little glimpse of what their reinforcements to their defense can do in 2014.
The big names that John Elway and company added were defensive end DeMarcus Ware, safety T.J. Ward and cornerback Aqib Talib. Let's take a quick look at a few highlights/lowlights from the new additions.
DeMarcus Ware makes his presence known early
We only had to wait until DeMarcus Ware's first snap in a Broncos uniform for him to completely blow up a play. Here, on the Seahawks' first play from scrimmage, Ware sneaks down the line past tight end Zach Miller, who unsuccessfully tries to block him away from the action. The play, an inside handoff to Seahawks running back Robert Turbin, goes off the rails, and Turbin must try to change direction quickly to run back outside.
It doesn't work.
So, Ware's awareness, quickness off the snap and speed combine to stop Seattle's run play in its tracks. Ware doesn't record a statistic, but this play was all him.
Only a few plays later, Ware again shows his savvy, and this time as a pass rusher. Here, Ware first rushes outside before cutting in. He's met by a double team as the guard goes to propel him away from the pocket, but deftly spins away from it, corralling a scrambling Russell Wilson before he can escape the pocket.
I'm not sure how he had the presence of mind to spin out of that, right into Russell Wilson's running lane, but ... yeah. He's good.
Aqib Talib brings that physicality the Broncos want in their defense
Talib wasn't immune to the penalty bug that was going around for both teams Thursday night, but he did make one play that was pretty impressive. It's a play that is meaningful as well, I think, because the Broncos' moves on defense over the offseason point to a goal: getting tougher and more physical on defense. That showed on this play by their new cornerback, as he takes on 220-pound Phil Bates without hesitation.
He does so with gusto, actually.
I should note, this isn't a play your typical cornerback is too inclined to attempt. Generally speaking, cornerbacks are your defense's worst tacklers, but Talib shows no fear here. The actual tackle leaves something to be desired because the way he leads with his shoulder without attempting to wrap up opens him up to injury (and he did leave the field). Still, the message he sent was clear: Don't think you can run at me and not take a hit.
T.J. Ward has a forgettable first half in a Broncos uniform
In fact, the "punch you in the mouth, make you wish you hadn't caught the football" attitude that the Broncos saw from the Seahawks and Kam Chancellor in particular in the Super Bowl may have heavily influenced their decision to bring in T.J. Ward during the offseason. Ward didn't get off to as great of a start as his cohorts, grabbing a holding penalty early in the game and then getting stiff-armed by Wilson a little later. (This was also a facemask penalty, on fourth down, which extended the Seahawks' drive.)
Ward made up for a couple of early mistakes by grabbing a sack on Russell Wilson later in the half.
Although it's a small sample size, you could see a glimpse of the vision that Elway had in bringing these players to Denver this offseason. It's the preseason, but this was a physical game, and the Broncos dished it out just as much as the respected Seahawks defense.