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

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.

Seattle Seahawks

For all the hypothesis main into Monday evening’s season opener about how Wilson can be obtained in his first sport towards his outdated crew, it was his former backup who received the loudest ovation.

And stole the present.

As boos reigned down relentlessly on Wilson, the Lumen Subject 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 is going to take years to find out whether or not the Seahawks made the best transfer by buying and selling Wilson in March for an enormous draft haul as an alternative of attempting to make issues work with the most effective quarterback in franchise historical past. One sport, as thrilling because it was, does not validate that transfer. However it does present some speedy satisfaction for the Seahawks — and a few hope for his or her followers that perhaps this season will not be the slog that everybody has assumed will probably be.

QB breakdown: Making his first Week 1 begin since 2014, Smith did not seem 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 prevented 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 crew 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 their approach 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 have 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. The fee to signal him went up when one other crew went after him arduous. That crew? 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 purpose 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 move defensed and 7 tackles. The Seahawks signed Nwosu to assist them with their elevated emphasis this season on 3-4 appears 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 GM John Schneider and coach Pete Carroll. The Seahawks held Denver to 6 factors on 4 journeys to the crimson 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)

Denver Broncos

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-night jitters.

Underneath new defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero, the Broncos tried to be aggressive within the move rush, attempting to maintain the ball away from Seahawks vast receivers DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett, however it wasn’t till exterior linebacker Randy Gregory ripped the ball out of Metcalf’s arms deep into the third quarter that the Broncos’ protection may settle in.

In consequence, Wilson’s 340 yards passing and one landing have been virtually a nondescript footnote in a 17-16 Seattle win that ended with a missed Brandon McManus discipline purpose try from 64 yards.

It will not be a carefree stroll by means 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 have been in a slugfest from the beginning and by no means led. Their evening ended when McManus missed a 64-yard discipline purpose try with 14 seconds left to play. On a third-and-14 with 1:11 left, Wilson hit Javonte Williams with a 9-yard move, organising a fourth-and-5 from the Seattle 46. As an alternative of going for the primary down with three timeouts remaining instantly after the third-down move, the Broncos ran the clock down to twenty seconds, known as a timeout, then missed the sector purpose.

Troubling development: Week 1 overreactions are as outdated because the NFL, however given the Broncos reside in a division through 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 out there. One sport doesn’t a development make, however the Broncos’ rushers are going to should get to the quarterback extra usually, and so they can’t permit any quarterback to get in a 13-of-13 rhythm to open a sport.

Largest 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’ vast receivers have 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 a very good 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 received the tempo of the sport the place they wished it, it turned a battle for the Broncos.

Denver’s vast 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 strategy within the preseason video games, through which just about all the starters did not play in any respect.

The penalties got here on either side of the ball and have been ill-timed — particularly a false begin with underneath 7 minutes to play and the Broncos contained in the Seahawks’ 5-yard line — and have been too usually momentum-busters. — Jeff Legwold

Underrated statistic to know: The Broncos are the primary crew for the reason that 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)