The Denver Broncos‘ second big rookie debut in as many weeks wasn’t as hungered for, but was much more satisfying.
Wide receiver Demaryius Thomas reminded the masses why he was selected three spots ahead of superstar teammate Tim Tebow Sunday, exploding onto the scene at INVESCO Field at Mile High with nine catches for 97 yards and a touchdown to lead the Broncos over the Seattle Seahawks 31-14.
Thomas led a dominant offensive effort that was supported by a 14 of 20 mark on third downs and four Broncos takeaways.
The Broncos began their home opener by forcing a pair of turnovers. Champ Bailey intercepted QB Matt Hasselbeck on Seattle’s opening drive deep in Denver territory. After the Broncos’ opening offensive series stalled, Bronco cornerback Cassius Vaughn recovered a muffed punt and the Broncos went on to score the game’s first points.
They wouldn’t look back. Denver used an impressive receiving tandem of Knowshon Moreno, Eddie Royal, Brandon Lloyd, and Thomas, who all snared receptions of at least 20 yards, to wear out the Seahawks defense and march up and down the field. Kyle Orton was exceptional (25 for 35, 307 yards, 2 TDs — one each to Royal and Thomas), Moreno and Correll Buckhalter added a touchdown apiece on the ground, and the Broncos put a thirty-burger on their longtime AFC West rival.
Hasselbeck was intercepted twice more, once by Brian Dawkins and once by rookie Perrish Cox.
It was by no means a complete performance. The Broncos’ special teams coverage unit continues to allow big gains to opposing returners, allowing Golden Tate a 63-yard punt return in the second half. The defense was opportunistic in its takeaways but was far too flexible otherwise. Hasselbeck had a comfortable pocket for most of the game, even with former Broncos linemen Tyler Polumbus and Ben Hamilton, both of whom the Broncos deemed unfit for a roster spot this offseason, blocking for him.
The Broncos next face the Indianapolis Colts at home, whose quarterback will surely provide a tougher challenge if given the same amount of time in the pocket. But today, Kyle Orton and company showed they just might have the offensive firepower to compete with them.