Seattle Seahawks ruin Russell Wilson’s return, upset Denver Broncos

SEATTLE — The Seattle Seahawks upset the Denver Broncos 5-16 Monday night when Russell Wilson, who played his first 10 seasons in Seattle, was outplayed by Geno Smith.


Seattle Seahawks

With all the speculation leading up to Monday night’s season opener over how Wilson would be received in his first game against his old team, it was his former backup that got the biggest ovation.

And stole the show.

While Wilson was booed relentlessly, Lumen Field audiences cheered each major Smith performance with chants of “GENO, GENO!” And there was just enough of that — including two first-half touchdown passes — to lead Seattle to a 17-16 win.

It will take years to determine if the Seahawks made the right move by trading Wilson for a massive draft haul in March instead of trying to make things work with the best quarterback in franchise history . A game, exciting as it was, does not confirm this move. But it does provide the Seahawks with immediate gratification — and some hope for their fans — that this season may not be the drudgery everyone thought it would be.

QB Breakdown: In his first Week 1 start since 2014, Smith didn’t look like a longtime backup expected to be little more than a game manager. He looked like an NFL starter. Smith completed his first 13 passes and was 17 of 18 with two touchdowns in a near-perfect first half. He was accurate and avoided the big mistake that plagued him at crucial moments when he filled in for Wilson last season. He also played with his legs, pocketing to avoid pressure while avoiding killer sacks. Smith finished 23 of 28 for 195 yards and two touchdown passes.

Shop Seattle’s Tight Ends breakout performance: A common belief at team headquarters this offseason was that tight ends would be a bigger part of the Seahawks’ offense this season — because whatever quarterback would replace him would be more likely to get in their way than Wilson it was. That looked like prescient thought Monday night as Will Dissly, Noah Fant and Colby Parkinson collectively caught eight passes for 102 yards and two touchdowns. Their combined nine goals were six fewer than Seattle’s receivers. Seattle acquired Fant in the Wilson trade and re-signed Dissly for three years and $24 million after testing the free hand. His price was boosted when another team was chasing him hard. This team? The Broncos.

key game: On back-to-back possessions in the third quarter, the Broncos drove to Seattle’s 1-yard line and appeared poised for the go-ahead touchdown. Both times, the Seahawks’ defense kept them out of the end zone by forcing a fumble at the goal line. Fullback Uchenna Nwosu pulled out the Broncos running back Javonte Williams in the second, part of his stellar debut in Seattle that also included a sack, a pass defended and seven tackles. The Seahawks signed Nwosu to help with their increased emphasis this season on 3-4 looks up front. The two-year, $19.055 million contract he signed in March made him the highest-paid free-agent addition in terms of APY under John Schneider and Pete Carroll. The Seahawks held Denver to six points in four trips to the red zone. – Brady Henderson

Underestimated statistics to get to know: Geno Smith is the third quarterback since 1990 to complete each of his first 13 passes in a week one game — along with Gardner Minshew (2019 Jaguars) and Jim Kelly (1990 Bills).

Next game: at 49ers (4:05 p.m. ET, September 18)


Denver Broncos

After an offseason filled with hopes and dreams that came with the arrival of quarterback Russell Wilson in Denver, it was the Broncos’ defense that had some jitters on opening night.

Under new defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero, the Broncos tried to be aggressive in the pass rush and attempted to keep the ball away from Seahawks wide receivers DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett, but it wasn’t until outside linebacker Randy Gregory yanked the ball out of Metcalf’s hands deep into the third quarter , before the Broncos defense could settle down.

As a result, Wilson’s 340-yard pass and a touchdown were almost an unassuming footnote in a 17-16 Seattle win that ended with a missed field goal attempt by Brandon McManus from 64 yards.

It won’t be a carefree stroll through the evaluations for Denver’s defense. The Seahawks tight ends caught six passes for 98 yards and two touchdowns before halftime, and Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith completed his first 13 passes of the game in a 17-of-18 performance with two touchdowns in the first half.

Decisive game: The Broncos have been in a slugfest from the start and never led. Their night ended when McManus missed a 64-yard field goal attempt with 14 seconds left. The Broncos failed to convert with a third and 14th, and instead of going for the first down, Hackett opted to send McManus out for the kick.

Worrying trend: Week 1 overreactions are as old as the NFL, but given that the Broncos live in a division where the other three teams have quarterbacks that have been called to the Pro Bowl, Smith turns around and gives 17 from 18 over The first half can not be ignored.

And while the Broncos harassed Smith a few times and hit him multiple times, he moved the ball out quickly, created pocket time with quality footwork and was more than ready to pull off the safest close available. One game doesn’t make a trend, but the Broncos rushers need to get to the quarterback more often, and they can’t allow a quarterback to get into a 13-of-13 rhythm to open a game.

Largest hole on the board: Part of that was certainly the Seahawks’ defensive game plan to put things where the help was, but the Broncos wide receivers were only targeted twice in the first half as the Seahawks took control of the pacing of the game .

Wilson didn’t put the ball in danger, and that was a good thing, but as much as coach Nathaniel Hackett hoped to be aggressive on offense, the Broncos weren’t the aggressor, especially early in the game. And when the Seahawks got the pace of the game where they wanted it, it became a fight for the Broncos.

Denver’s wide receivers didn’t really get involved until late in the third and fourth quarters.

Worrying Trend II: Double-digit penalties for 100+ yards? Critics will point out Hackett’s loose approach in the preseason games when virtually all of the starters weren’t playing at all.

The penalties came on both sides of the ball and were ill-timed — specifically, a false start with less than 7 minutes to play and the Broncos inside the Seahawks’ 5-yard line — and were momentum-busters too often. — Jeff Legwold

Underestimated statistics to get to know: The Broncos are the first team since the Chiefs in 1987 to lose two fumbles from an opponent’s one-yard line in the same game, according to Elias. The last case happened in a game with substitutes.

Next game: vs. Texans (4:25 p.m. ET, Sept. 18) Seattle Seahawks ruin Russell Wilson’s return, upset Denver Broncos

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