SEATTLE — The Seattle Seahawks upset the Denver Broncos 17-16 on Monday evening as Russell Wilson, who performed his first 10 seasons in Seattle, was outdueled by Geno Smith.
For all the hypothesis main into Monday evening’s season opener about how Wilson can be obtained in his first recreation towards his outdated staff, it was his former backup who received the loudest ovation.
And stole the present.
As boos reigned down relentlessly on Wilson, the Lumen Area crowd celebrated each massive play by Smith with chants of “GENO, GENO!” And there have been simply sufficient of them — together with a pair of first-half landing passes — to elevate Seattle to a 17-16 win.
It can take years to find out whether or not the Seahawks made the proper transfer by buying and selling Wilson in March for a large draft haul as an alternative of making an attempt to make issues work with the most effective quarterback in franchise historical past. One recreation, as thrilling because it was, would not validate that transfer. But it surely does present some fast satisfaction for the Seahawks — and a few hope for his or her followers that possibly this season will not be the slog that everybody has assumed it is going to be.
QB breakdown: Making his first Week 1 begin since 2014, Smith did not appear to be a long-time backup who’s anticipated to be little greater than a recreation supervisor. He seemed like an NFL starter. Smith accomplished his first 13 passes and was 17-of-18 with a pair of touchdowns throughout a near-perfect first half. He was correct and averted the large mistake that plagued him in pivotal moments when he crammed in for Wilson final season. He made performs together with his legs, too, stepping up within the pocket to flee stress and avoiding killer sacks within the course of. Smith completed 23-of-28 for 195 yards and two landing passes.
Shopping for the breakout efficiency by Seattle’s tight ends: A preferred perception inside staff headquarters this offseason was that tight ends can be a much bigger a part of the Seahawks’ offense this season — as a result of whichever quarterback changed him can be extra inclined to throw to their approach than Wilson was. That seemed like a prescient thought Monday evening, with Will Dissly, Noah Fant and Colby Parkinson catching a mixed eight passes for 102 yards and two touchdowns. Their mixed 9 targets had been six lower than Seattle’s receivers received. Seattle acquired Fant within the Wilson commerce and re-signed Dissly for 3 years and $24 million after he examined free company. His worth was pushed up when one other staff went after him laborious. That staff? The Broncos.
Pivotal play: On consecutive third-quarter possessions, the Broncos drove to Seattle’s 1-yard line and appeared poised to attain the go-ahead landing. Each occasions, the Seahawks’ protection held them out of the tip zone by forcing a fumble on the aim line. Outdoors linebacker Uchenna Nwosu stripped Broncos working again Javonte Williams on the second, a part of his sterling Seattle debut that additionally included a sack, a cross defensed and 7 tackles. The Seahawks signed Nwosu to help them with their elevated emphasis this season on 3-4 seems to be up entrance. The 2-year, $19.055M deal he signed in March made him the highest-paid free-agent addition when it comes to APY underneath John Schneider and Pete Carroll. The Seahawks held Denver to 6 factors on 4 journeys to the purple zone. — Brady Henderson
Underrated statistic to know: Geno Smith is the third quarterback since 1990 to finish every of his first 13 passes in a Week 1 recreation — together with Gardner Minshew ( 2019 Jaguars) and Jim Kelly (1990 Payments).
Subsequent recreation: at 49ers (4:05 p.m. ET, Sept. 18)
After an offseason stuffed with the hopes and goals that got here with quarterback Russell Wilson’s arrival in Denver, it was the Broncos’ protection that had some opening evening jitters.
Beneath new defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero, the Broncos tried to be aggressive within the cross rush, making an attempt to maintain the ball away from Seahawks broad receivers DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett, nevertheless it wasn’t till outdoors linebacker Randy Gregory ripped the ball out of Metcalf’s palms deep into the third quarter earlier than the Broncos protection might settle in.
Consequently, Wilson’s 340 yards passing and one landing had been virtually a nondescript footnote in a 17-16 Seattle win that ended with a missed Brandon McManus subject aim try from 64 yards..
It will not be a carefree stroll via the evaluations for Denver’s protection. The Seahawks tight ends caught six passes for 98 yards and two touchdowns earlier than halftime, and Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith accomplished his first 13 passes of the sport as a part of a 17-of-18, two-touchdown efficiency within the opening half.
Pivotal play: The Broncos had been in a slugfest from the beginning and by no means led. Their evening ended when McManus missed a 64-yard subject aim try with 14 seconds left to play. The Broncos, on a third-and-14, did not convert, and as an alternative of going for the primary down, Hackett elected to ship McManus out for the kick.
Troubling development: Week 1 over-reactions are as outdated because the NFL, however given the Broncos reside in a division the place the opposite three groups have quarterbacks who’ve been named to the Professional Bowl, Smith wheeling and dealing to 17-of-18 passing within the opening half cannot be ignored.
And whereas the Broncos did harass Smith some and hit him a number of occasions, he moved the ball out shortly, created time within the pocket with high quality footwork and was greater than prepared to take the most secure completion accessible. One recreation doesn’t a development make, however the Broncos rushers are going to must get to the quarterback extra typically, they usually can’t permit any quarterback to get in a 13-of-13 rhythm to open a recreation.
Greatest gap in gameplan: A few of it was actually the Seahawks defensive recreation plan to maintain issues funneled to the place the assistance was, however the Broncos broad receivers had been focused simply twice within the opening half when the Seahawks took management of the tempo of the sport.
Wilson didn’t put the ball in hurt’s approach, and that was an excellent factor, however as a lot as coach Nathaniel Hackett has hoped to be aggressive on offense, the Broncos weren’t the aggressor, particularly early within the recreation. And when the Seahawks received the tempo of the sport the place they needed it, it turned a battle for the Broncos.
Denver’s broad receivers did not actually become involved till late within the third and into the fourth quarters.
Troubling development II: Double-digit penalties for over 100 yards? Critics will level to Hackett’s go-easy method within the preseason video games, when just about all the starters did not play in any respect.
The penalties got here on either side of the ball and had been ill-timed – particularly a false begin with underneath 7 minutes to play and the Broncos contained in the Seahawks’ 5-yard line – and had been too typically momentum-busters. — Jeff Legwold
Underrated statistic to know: The Broncos are the primary staff because the 1987 Chiefs to lose two fumbles from the opponent’s one-yard line in the identical recreation, per Elias. The final occasion occurred in a recreation using substitute gamers.
Subsequent recreation: vs. Texans (4:25 p.m. ET, Sept. 18)