By Eric D. Williams The News Tribune
DENVER — Starting his second straight exhibition game, Matt Flynn failed to seize control of the job in Pete Carroll’s three-man battle at quarterback.
And in the absence of a true leader, rookie signal caller Russell Wilson put together another impressive, second-half outing.
While Wilson sizzled, Flynn sputtered in the first half, finishing six of 13 for 31 yards, with no touchdowns and no interceptions in Seattle’s 30-10 win over the Denver Broncos Saturday evening at Sports Authority Field.
“It was really hard on him,” Carroll said about Flynn, who was sacked once. “We didn’t protect him very well. We held a little bit. He couldn’t even get started, I feel. At this point it’s really hard to evaluate the quarterback, because I need to see all that happened.”
With starting receivers Sidney Rice and Doug Baldwin nursing injuries, Terrell Owens made his debut for the Seahawks (2-0) and laid an egg. The 38-year-old receiver was targeted five times but finished without a catch. Owens’ poor performance in the first half included a perfectly thrown deep ball by Flynn that slipped through his hands in the back of the end zone.
While he would have liked to see Owens make more plays, Carroll says he needs to exercise patience since Owens has had just two weeks of practice.
“He’s just getting going,” Carroll said. “I don’t have any problem. I’ve seen him day in and day out, and I know how he’s working, and how he’s learning the stuff.
“We wanted to get him a number of plays today just to get him going. … I wish for him and for everybody he’d caught that (pass).”
Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch got his first action of exhibition play, rushing five times for 32 yards, including a long of 14 yards.
Wilson started and played the entire second half, completing 10 of 17 passes for 155 yards and two touchdowns. Wilson finished with a 128.3 passer rating, and also scrambled for 33 yards on five carries.
Incumbent starter Tarvaris Jackson did not play for a second straight game.
While Wilson played mostly against second-and-third-team players on Denver’s defense, his performance still put Flynn on notice.
Carroll said he’s undecided if he’ll give the rookie quarterback a chance to play with the starters next week at Kansas City.
“We’ll see,” Carroll said. “I don’t know yet. We’ve got to evaluate all that.”
The third preseason game is traditionally reserved for the first units on both sides of the ball to get ready to play in the regular-season opener, with starters playing into the third quarter.
And although he’d like an opportunity, Wilson is letting his play do the talking.
“I just do whatever it takes to be successful,” Wilson said. “I can’t worry about that. I think more than anything, our goal is to win — whatever it takes.”
Seattle’s defense once again stole the show, forcing three first-half turnovers and holding the Peyton Manning-led Denver offense to just 10 points in the opening half.
In his second straight start for the Broncos (1-1), Manning finished 16-for-23 for 177 yards. He threw two interceptions.
Manning also had a sure touchdown pass dropped by tight end Jacob Tamme at the end of the first half. The Broncos had to settle for a Matt Prater 32-yard field goal instead, and Denver took a 10-9 lead into halftime.
“I didn’t think Peyton Manning was spectacular like everybody thought,” said Seattle safety Earl Thomas, who played against Manning for the first time. “I thought he was normal. And we just had a good outing. They got us on a couple of things, but overall I think we played great.”
Seattle rookie defensive end Bruce Irvin also got the first hit on Manning since he returned from neck surgery in the second quarter. But other than that, Seattle didn’t get much pressure on the veteran quarterback.
Seattle linebacker K.J. Wright grabbed Peyton’s first interception off a tipped pass by defensive end Red Bryant. Reserve safety Jeron Johnson corralled the second interception when Manning overshot tight end Joel Dreessen down the middle of the field.
Johnson also forced Denver running back Lance Ball to fumble, which was recovered by Leroy Hill.
But Seattle failed to get any of the team’s three, first-half turnovers into the end zone, settling for field goals of 43, 36 and 43 yards by kicker Steven Hauschka.
Manning led Denver to its only touchdown drive of the evening on the Broncos’ third series of the game, an 11-play, 80-yard drive capped by a Willis McGhee 1-yard run.
Seattle running back Kregg Lumpkin scored on a 16-yard run in the third quarter, and Tyrell Sutton added a 36-yard touchdown catch from Wilson on a swing pass.
The Seahawks finished with 228 yard rushing, led by Sutton’s 48 yards on three carries.
Wilson also connected with University of Washington product Jermaine Kearse for a 37-yard completion down the middle of the field, setting up Seattle’s final points, an 8-yard touchdown play from Wilson to tight end Cooper Helfet.