The final drive started and completed in the first quarter was defined by a 15 yard clipping penalty. The Broncos went heavy, with three tights ends and an I formation. Seattle held its ground, in no small part because of Red Bryant. But it was Bryant that Peyton Hill bounced off before breaking into the open field. Brandon Mebane falling after being fell upon by Ryan Clady, contributed to Bryant's broken tackle. Whatever the cause, the play was called back and instead of gaining 29 yards, the Broncos lost 15.
Denver spent the rest of the drive crawling back into field goal range. They got within 53 and Matt Prater nailed it.
Seattle came very close to allowing a first down. The Broncos went to their screen game. The Seahawks couldn't stop it. Consecutive screens, first a tight end screen to Daniel Graham, and second a wide receiver screen to Eddie Royal, were a Darryl Tapp tackle away from disaster.
He was playing right defensive end.
Tapp executed a beautiful edge rush, came free around Clady, saw Brandon Mebane facedown on the turf and Mebane's blocker, left guard Ben Hamilton, pulling towards the right flat, and began sprinting across the field. It was a very impressive display of read, reaction and intelligence. His line to Graham was almost without deviation. He arrived in time to catch a jumping Graham's legs just as Deon Grant buried a shoulder into Graham's torso. Graham was jumping over Brian Russell.
Tapp didn't get as deep into his pass rush on the next play. He read the play and broke towards the left sideline. There, Royal was baiting Josh Wilson inside and into the path of Clady's oncoming pull block. Wilson dodged and maintained containment. Tapp sprang from behind and tackled Royal after a gain of four. Mebane assisted. Seattle had finally solved the screen. Or at least, Darryl Tapp had.
Tapp will start somewhere next year. Seattle will recognize what they have, or another team will turn him into a 3-4 linebacker. He is too good, too athletic and too smart to sit behind taller, inferior players.