Plenty of questions for special teams

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Someone knows.

Somebody knows how a 6-foot-7, 264-pound lineman leaves a huddle, jogs to the part of the field next to the opposite sideline and goes unnoticed.

Somebody in the Seattle Seahawks’ locker room can explain why Buffalo’s Ryan Denney was able to line up as a wide receiver in field-goal formation and not draw a single defender in the vicinity.

Someone knows, but no one is saying.

“It’s attention to detail,” linebacker and special teams captain D.D. Lewis said — twice — when asked how the Bills were able to pull of a fake field goal that resulted in Denney catching a 19-yard touchdown pass from holder Brian Moorman.

Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren looked baffled when asked about the unique touchdown.

“Clearly, it’s someone who is not particularly concentrating on that particular play at that particular time,” he said after Sunday’s 34-10 loss to the Bills in the regular-season opener. “Because Denney is not a little guy. He’s a big guy, so we should have seen him.”

On a day when the Seahawks’ fractured special teams were mainly responsible for the blowout loss to Buffalo, Denney’s touchdown marked the most critical mistake of the day. His reception in a wide-open corner of the end zone gave the Bills a 27-10 lead 12½ minutes into the second half and effectively snuffed out the Seahawks’ hopes of a comeback.

“I don’t know how they did it, but it worked nicely for them,” Holmgren said.

The play was drawn up by Buffalo special teams coach Bobby April, who had the Bills practice it all week. Buffalo safety Donte Whitner said his team noticed “some things we thought we could take advantage of,” and so the fake was called.

“I think the referee stood over the ball a little longer than we had anticipated,” Denney said. “The (Bills) linemen were telling me that they were waiting and trying not to give it away by looking over to see if I was open.

“It was just like we drew it up. (Moorman) threw a nice ball, and I was able to catch it.”

Unfortunately for the Seahawks, Denney’s touchdown was not the only special-teams mistake of the afternoon.

In fact, the ensuing kickoff led to another quick Buffalo score after Seahawks return man Josh Wilson fumbled. Wilson avoided a tackle near the Buffalo sideline, but got hit from behind and lost control of the ball. The Bills recovered, scored one play later, and opened up a 24-point lead.

“The whole game, it seemed like momentum wouldn’t come on our side,” Wilson said. “We’d make something happen, and then the ball came up. That can’t happen.”

The game actually started to slip away from Seattle midway through the second quarter, when Roscoe Parrish’s 63-yard punt return touchdown resulted in a 14-0 lead.

Parrish caught Ryan Plackemeier’s punt at the Buffalo 37, sidestepped oncoming defender Logan Payne, then cut to the right sideline. He turned back inside, got wrapped up by Seahawks tight end John Carlson at the Seattle 25, but spun out of that tackle and kept moving.

Even Seahawks safety C.J. Wallace was no match for Parrish, who made another cut move to avoid him at the 15 before sprinting in for the score.

“When (Parrish) touches the ball,” Bills coach Dick Jauron said, “you can sense it in the stadium. People start to buzz. They expect him to (score).”

If there was one Seahawks special teamer who seemed to characterize the day, it was punter Ryan Plackemeier. The third-year player struggled through a forgettable first half that saw him shank two punts that ended up traveling just 22 yards. With a better second half, Plackemeier finished the game averaging 40.9 yards per clip on 11 punts.

“My drop wasn’t consistent,” Plackemeier said. “When you’re drop’s not there, you really don’t get a good shot. Especially in that kind of wind, I’ve got to get the ball up in the air, not hit it off the side of your foot or pull it.”

Plackemeier missed most of training camp while recovering from surgery on a torn pectoral muscle, and he found himself mired in a spirited battle with Reggie Hodges just to make the team. Plackemeier won out in the end, but his performance Sunday hardly warranted his roster spot.

“I didn’t like how (Plackemeier) punted today, necessarily,” Holmgren said, “but he’s a good punter. What I’d like him to do is learn from this game — write it off a little bit, but learn from it.”

The Seahawks’ entire special teams unit learned a lot on Sunday.

“We’ve just got to keep getting better,” Lewis said, “to keep working harder.”

Talk to us

More in Sports

Marysville Pilchuck’s Christian Van Natta lifts the ball in the air to celebrate a turnover during the game against Marysville Getchell on Friday, Sept. 16, 2022 in Marysville, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Prep football roundup for Friday, Sept. 29

Prep football roundup for Friday, Sept. 29: (Note for coaches/scorekeepers: To report… Continue reading

Who’s that frog? A local high school tennis player, that’s who

Arlington tennis player Robbie Balderas worked as AquaSox mascot Webbly this season, and the busy junior also runs a landscaping business.

Mountlake Terrace’s Zaveon Jones is pulled to the ground by a diving Nicholas Mouser of Monroe on Friday, Sept. 29, 2023, at Monroe High School in Monroe, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Swarming Monroe defense keys win over Terrace in Wesco 3A South showdown

The Bearcats slow down the Hawks’ potent ground game, and quarterback Blake Springer tosses three TDs in a 35-10 victory.

Arlington players lift the Stilly Cup in the air after beating Stanwood on Friday, Sept. 29, 2023 in Stanwood, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Arlington reclaims Stilly Cup after short hiatus, routs Stanwood 42-7

Leyton Martin registers 277 yards, 4 TDs as Eagles notch fifth straight game with at least six TDs.

Fall prep sports roundup.
Prep results for Saturday, Sept. 30

Prep results for Saturday, Sept. 30: (Note for coaches/scorekeepers: To report results… Continue reading

Marysville Pilchuck’s Dominik Kendrick (9) runs with the ball during a football game between Marysville Pilchuck and Stanwood at Marysville Pilchuck High School in Marysville, Washington on Friday, Sept. 8, 2023. Marysville Pilchuck takes the win, 36-7. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Marysville Pilchuck proud of 4-0 start, but has loftier goals

The Tomahawks aren’t listening to the outside noise, including a No. 1 WIAA RPI ranking, as a tough stretch lies ahead.

Houston Astros relief pitcher Hector Neris (50) gestures to Seattle Mariners' Julio Rodríguez (44) after striking Rodríguez out to end the sixth inning of a baseball game Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2023, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Lindsey Wasson)
MLB investigating Astros pitcher’s alleged use of homophobic slur

The incident occurred during a heated exchange between Houston’s Hector Neris and M’s star Julio Rodriguez on Wednesday night.

Prep roundup for Friday, Sept. 29

Prep roundup for Friday, Sept. 29: (Note for coaches/scorekeepers: To report results… Continue reading

Stanwood players react to their coach bringing them the Stilly Cup on Sept. 30, 2022 in Arlington. The Spartans snapped a 12-game losing streak in the rivalry matchup last year. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
4 games to watch in Week 5 of the prep football season

An in-depth look at the best games the area has to offer, plus a full schedule of the local action in Week 5.

Most Read