Seattle hands out a strong dose of reality

Broncos quarterback Brian Griese gives up a career-high three interceptions as Denver suffers its worst loss of the season, 34-21 to the Seattle Seahawks.

Although few within the organization will admit it, the expression on head coach Mike Shanahan's face spoke volumes.

The Denver Broncos have some serious trouble.

Trailing 24-7 to the Seattle Seahawks during the first half, the team that most people considered the best in the AFC West looked beaten, bullied and confused.

As the final gun sounded at 34-21, that look had turned to embarrassment.

"We got our asses kicked today in all phases of the game, on offense, defense and special teams," said a dejected Bill Romonowski as he left the unfriendly confines of Huskly Stadium. "I don't know, we had a good practice week, but it just didn't work out."

Almost an understatement when you consider that each Broncos unit yielded at least one Seahawk touchdown.

Three minutes into the game the supposedly revamped Ray Rhodes defense gave up a career long 60-yard touchdown run to Shaun Alexander, and on Seattle's subsequent possession allowed a 44-yard Ryan Lindell field goal, digging themselves into an early 10-0 first quarter hole.

On the first play of the second quarter the Denver offense joined the spirit of giving, as Brian Griese gave the Seahawks their first interception in fifteen quarters, a 55-yard touchdown pick to Reggie Tongue.

Possibly feeling left out, special teams added their own bit of charity midway through the third quarter when rookie Alex Bannister waltzed untouched through the line to block a Tom Ruen punt. The Seahawks first blocked punt in 112 games was scooped up on the 9-yard line and returned for a touchdown, giving Seattle a 31-14 advantage.

While that play may have been the icing on the cake for Seattle, the fact remains that Denver's reign over Mike Holmgren's crew was over long before that point.

Sunday's game was lost mid week, when the focus became the over use of wide receiver Rod Smith, the durability of Brian Griese's shoulder and the presumption of Denver's dominance over Seattle.

Simply put, the game was lost when the Broncos lost focus mentally and nothing Mike Shanahan, Brian Griese or Rod Smith could do would change that fact.

A season-high twelve penalties for 148-yards, which amounted to fifty-six more yards than the entire Broncos rushing output, and an inexcusable career-high three interception afternoon further cement the realization that, at this point, the Broncos are a very mediocre team, relying more on reputation than accomplishments.

And while the Oakland Raiders took over sole possession in the AFC West with their win over Indianapolis, the Broncos limped home to prepare a game plan for last years' worst NFL team, the San Diego Chargers, with whom they are currently tied.

Who would have figured.

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