Russell Wilson’s return to Seattle was set up for him to deliver a clutch game-winning drive. The Seattle Seahawks (1-0) had other ideas.
With a mixture of stout red zone defense, horrible discipline by the Denver Broncos (0-1), and a ridiculous clock management decision by head coach Nathaniel Hackett (and maybe Wilson?), the Seahawks pulled off the 17-16 upset over the heavily favored Broncos in front of a packed house at Lumen Field. Wilson heard the boos but threw for 340 yards on 29/42 and a touchdown. Geno Smith was one of the stars of the show, starting off red hot before cooling off with a 23/28 for 195 yards and 2 TDs stat line.
Brandon McManus had a chance to give the Broncos the win from 64 yards out after that aforementioned horrible clock management, but the veteran kicker hooked it wide left. That’ll be a talking point!
But the story here is the Seahawks’ stingy defense in the red zone, including two goal-line forced fumbles, as well as a very effective 1st half offense that had the Broncos defense reeling.
1-0 and atop the NFC West!
The Seahawks started the season on offense after Denver won the coin toss. Geno Smith converted an early 3rd down to Tyler Lockett for 17 yards, hanging in the pocket and making a good throw. His next 3rd down throw? He escaped pressure up that middle and threw on the run to a wide open Will Dissly who eased his way into the end zone for 38 yards! 7-0 Seahawks after an incredible opening drive.
Met with a bevy of boos, Russell Wilson led the Broncos offense down the field pretty easily. Two big plays by the tight end Andrew Beck had Denver deep in Seattle territory. Jamal Adams nearly picked Wilson as he was scrambling to make a play, and then a false start had Denver behind the sticks. On 3rd and 10, Wilson threw a checkdown to Melvin Gordon but he was well short of the marker. Brandon McManus hit from 38 yards out to make it 7-3 Seahawks.
The Broncos committed a pass interference on Will Dissly and then a head shot on Noah Fant on the first two plays of the Seahawks’ ensuing drive. Just like that Seattle was in Denver’s half of the field. A good run by Rashaad Penny put the Seahawks in the red zone. On 4th and inches, the Seahawks went for it inside Denver’s 10. Smith sneaked but slipped and came up short.
The Broncos got out of their unfavorable field position but again their penalty problems continued. A false start put them at 1st and 15, followed by a sack of Wilson by Uchenna Nwosu, and on 3rd down there was an illegal formation penalty as Wilson hurriedly threw the ball away after escaping a Jamal Adams sack. The bad news for the Seahawks was Adams went to the medical tent noticeably limping. He did not return.
Seattle benefited from more penalties against the Broncos, including a really lame taunting call on what was otherwise a no gain play for Dee Eskridge. Rashaad Penny broke free for a huge run on the right side of the line but he was stripped of the ball, and Austin Blythe was there for the clutch recovery. Unfortunately, Phil Haynes’ holding penalty later on in the series had the Seahawks going backwards, and they had to work just to get back into FG range. Jason Myers was true from 49! 10-3 Seahawks.
Curiously, Russell Wilson hadn’t thrown a single pass to a receiver for 1.5 quarters. The first time he did it? Jerry Jeudy burned rookie corner Coby Bryant for the 67-yard score to level things at 10-10.
Smith was perfect through his first 13 pass attempts and just playing so assuredly. He stepped away from pressure, was decisive with his reads, and made good throws to Marquise Goodwin and two to Colby Parkinson. His second throw to Parkinson was Colby’s first NFL touchdown! Gone for 25 yards on a well-designed play. 17-10 Seahawks.
Russell Wilson hit Courtland Sutton for a big 30-yard gain on 3rd down in the two-minute drill to put Denver in field goal range. Quandre Diggs dropped a gimme interception in the end zone which was the difference between Denver coming away with nothing and instead coming away with a field goal. A shoutout to Cody Barton for a sack that helped throw off Denver’s series. 17-13 Seahawks.
Russell Wilson converted an early 3rd down on the opening series to Courtland Sutton, who got behind the coverage as Wilson had all the time to work. A deep shot to Sutton resulted in a DPI on rookie Tariq Woolen and thus a goal-to-go situation. Denver’s sloppiness and penalties put them in unfavorable situations in down and distance. Melvin Gordon got within a yard of pay dirt on 3rd and goal, then got the carry on 4th and goal... and coughed it up! TURNOVER! AMAZING! Mike Jackson on the recovery!
Seattle continued to advance the ball through good pass plays and ill-disciplined Broncos penalties. DK Metcalf made a great 3rd and 10 catch on Patrick Surtain to extend the drive, only to lose a fumble on a screen pass the very next play.
Tariq Woolen committed yet another DPI on KJ Hamler this time and on that occasion he saved a touchdown. Facing 3rd and goal at the 1, Javonte Williams also coughed it up! Mike Jackson recovered the ball after Uchenna Nwosu stripped him! Can you believe it?!
The Seahawks again were unable to take advantage of the takeaway but at least they flipped field position. Geno Smith made a couple of third down conversions with his arms and legs, but the drive ended with Smith getting strip-sacked by Bradley Chubb, who blew right by rookie Charles Cross. Thankfully, Cross caught the ball in mid-air to prevent yet another lost fumble.
The Broncos embarked on a 15-play, 72-yard drive filled with the type of clutch Russell Wilson play we’ve grown accustomed to for years. However, once inside the 5-yard line they stalled again. A touchdown on a shovel pass was nullified by a false start, and Wilson threw 2nd and 3rd down passes out of bounds. Another red zone stand! 17-16 Seahawks with 6:16 left.
The Seahawks picked a bad time to go three-and-out, as Chubb sacked Geno a second time and gave the ball back to Denver via punt. Denver barely avoided a three-and-out (or maybe a decision to go for it on 4th down) by the barest of margins when Albert Okwuegbunam made a hell of an effort to extend to the sticks. Pete Carroll wasted a timeout too on the challenge.
Out of the two-minute warning, Javonte Williams broke several tackles and picked up a first down on a short throw that got them near midfield. Another screen to Williams was blown up by Cody Barton, who was injured on the play and walked off under his own power. That put Denver in 2nd and 14, then Wilson pump faked it into the ground, and Williams gained 9 on a checkdown. The Broncos curiously ran the clock down and then settle for a 64-yard field goal, which prompted a timeout by the Seahawks. McManus from 64... WIDE LEFT! SEAHAWKS WIN! 17-16 Seahawks Final.
Seahawks Injury Report
Jamal Adams left the game with a knee injury while trying to sack Russell Wilson in the 23n quarter. He did not return.
Cody Barton had an undisclosed injury in the 4th quarter and did not return.
Darrell Taylor cramped up in the 4th quarter but did return.
Next Week’s Opponent
The Seahawks head on the road for the first of two showdowns with their NFC West rival San Francisco 49ers (0-1). Kickoff time is 1:05 PM PT on FOX from Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara on Sunday, September 18th.