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main into Monday evening’s season opener about how Wilson can be obtained in his first sport in opposition to his outdated workforce, it was his former backup who acquired the loudest ovation.
And stole the present.
As boos reigned down relentlessly on Wilson, the Lumen Discipline crowd celebrated each large 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 should take years to find out whether or not the Seahawks made the fitting transfer by buying and selling Wilson in March for a large draft haul as an alternative of attempting to make issues work with one of the best quarterback in franchise historical past. One sport, as thrilling because it was, would not validate that transfer. Nevertheless it does present some quick 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 like a longtime backup who’s anticipated to be little greater than a sport supervisor. He appeared 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 massive mistake that plagued him in pivotal moments when he stuffed in for Wilson final season. He made performs together with his legs, too, stepping up within the pocket to flee strain 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 well-liked perception inside workforce 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 Wilson can be extra inclined to throw to their method than he was. That appeared 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 acquired. Seattle acquired Fant within the Wilson commerce and re-signed Dissly for 3 years and $24 million after he examined free company. The associated fee to signal him went up when one other workforce went after him arduous. That workforce? 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 top zone by forcing a fumble on the aim line. Exterior linebacker Uchenna Nwosu stripped Broncos operating 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 appears to be like up entrance. The 2-year, $19.055M deal he signed in March made him the highest-paid free-agent addition by way of APY beneath GM John Schneider and coach Pete Carroll. The Seahawks held Denver to 6 factors on 4 journeys to the pink 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 sport — together with Gardner Minshew ( 2019 Jaguars) and Jim Kelly (1990 Payments).
Subsequent sport: at 49ers (4:05 p.m. ET, Sept. 18)
After an offseason crammed with the hopes and desires that got here with quarterback Russell Wilson’s arrival in Denver, it was the Broncos’ protection that had some opening-night jitters.
Underneath new defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero, the Broncos tried to be aggressive within the cross rush, attempting to maintain the ball away from Seahawks large receivers DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett, but it surely wasn’t till outdoors linebacker Randy Gregory ripped the ball out of Metcalf’s fingers deep into the third quarter that the Broncos’ protection may settle in.
In consequence, 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 area aim try from 64 yards.
It will not be a carefree stroll by way of the evaluations for Denver’s protection. 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 area aim try with 14 seconds left to play. On a third-and-14 with 1:11 left, Wilson hit Javonte Williams with a 9-yard cross, establishing a fourth-and-5 from the Seattle 46. As a substitute of going for the primary down with three timeouts remaining instantly after the third-down cross, the Broncos ran the clock down to twenty seconds, known as a timeout, then missed the sector aim.
Troubling pattern: Week 1 overreactions are as outdated because the NFL, however given the Broncos reside in a division by which the opposite three groups have quarterbacks who’ve been named to the Professional Bowl, Smith’s 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 rapidly, created time within the pocket with high quality footwork and was greater than prepared to take the most secure completion obtainable. One sport doesn’t a pattern make, however the Broncos’ rushers are going to need to get to the quarterback extra typically, they usually can not enable any quarterback to get in a 13-of-13 rhythm to open a sport.
Greatest gap in sport plan: A few of it was definitely the Seahawks’ defensive sport plan to maintain issues funneled to the place the assistance was, however the Broncos’ large 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 method, and that was 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 sport. And when the Seahawks acquired the tempo of the sport the place they wished it, it grew to become a wrestle for the Broncos.
Denver’s large receivers did not actually become involved till late within the third and into the fourth quarters.
Troubling pattern 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 each side of the ball and had been ill-timed — particularly a false begin with beneath 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 workforce because the 1987 Chiefs to lose two fumbles from the opponent’s 1-yard line in the identical sport, per Elias Sports activities Bureau. The final occasion occurred in a sport using substitute gamers.
Subsequent sport: vs. Texans (4:25 p.m. ET, Sept. 18)