Lewd boos for their former quarterback early in the game turned into happy chants for their new quarterback late in the game.
And in typical Russell Wilson fashion, the game wasn’t decided until the last few seconds.
But this time, an attempt by Wilson to create a fourth-quarter comeback at Lumen Field, where he had posted 20 earlier in his career, fell short.
Facing a fourth-and-5 at their own 46-yard line, the Broncos decided to let Brandon McManus attempt a 64-yard field goal. The kick went wide to the left and the Seattle crowd, who enjoyed an unusual spectacle all night, walked away happy with the Seahawks holding on for a 17-16 victory.
Seattle is now 1-0 in the post-Wilson era, with a victory that coach Pete Carroll will no doubt savor as much as any he has won in his career.
But as revealing as Geno Smith was in his first opening day start since 2014, completing his first 13 passes, throwing two first-half touchdowns and not committing a turnover, it was a great defensive effort that won this one. .
Three times in the second half, the Seahawks held Denver out of the end zone on drives inside the 10-yard line, twice stopping the Broncos entirely and once forcing a field goal.
Seattle also came up with the big plays it needed to force Denver rookie coach Nathaniel Hackett into a decision that is sure to be widely questioned: Instead of letting Russ Cook on a fourth down, he attempted a really tough field goal.
After stopping Seattle on a 3-and-out, with Smith being sacked on third down by Bradley Chubb, who beat out rookie left tackle Charles Cross, Denver got the ball back at its own 22-yard line with 4:02 remaining and all three timeouts.
After a 5-yard run from Melvin Gordon III, Jerry Jeudy dropped a pass on second down that would have gotten the first.
On third-and-5, Wilson escaped the pressure and threw to tight end Albert Okwuegbunam, who fought off a Quandre Diggs tackle to bow for the first down with 3:03 remaining.
Carroll contested it, but the ruling stood.
Two plays later, Denver faced another third down, this third and 2 from the 40-yard line on the two-minute warning.
With the crowd in full swing, Wilson calmly hit Javonte Williams on a short pass up the middle for nine yards.
But on the next play, Cody Barton caught Williams for a four-yard loss after a pass and Wilson threw incomplete on second down.
Wilson then hit Williams on the ground and had Justin Coleman miss to win nine.
That set up a fourth-and-5 at the 46-yard line. With Denver lined up for center, Wilson let the clock tick down to 20 seconds (the third down play had been broken with 1:11 left) before calling a timeout.
Seattle called a timeout for McManus and Denver to think about it, and the kick narrowly missed.
Seattle delivered two goal-line stops in the third quarter, each time forcing fumbles, that ultimately changed the game.
The first came on 1/4 when Quandre Diggs led a charge from defenders to cover Melvin Gordon, who fumbled the ball trying in vain to get the ball over the goal line.
The second came on Denver’s ensuing possession when Javonte Williams fumbled when he was tackled behind the line at third-and-goal in the 1, with Uchenna Nwosu credited with the forced fumble.
Seattle then forced a field goal after a drive by Denver that went to three.
And the solid defense came mostly without safety Jamal Adams, who left the game early in the second quarter with a knee injury and did not return.
There was a lot of speculation before the game about how Wilson would be received by the Seattle crowd, although there were plenty of Denver oranges scattered around Lumen Field.
But the boos, which were supposed to be all from Seahawks fans, drowned out the cheers throughout, and perhaps surprisingly so.
Wilson was booed as he took the field with the rest of the quarterbacks for pregame warmups. He booed when he walked out onto the field with the rest of the team before the start of the match. And he was booed when he walked onto the field for the coin toss as one of Denver’s captains.
That gave Seattle the ball first, and Smith made all four of his shots on the Seahawks’ first drive, including a 38-yard touchdown run to Dissly when Smith ducked a run, ran to his left and saw Dissly wide open, throwing the ball at him. ball. for easy termination. Dissly turned and ran untouched into the end zone for a quick 7-0 lead.
That kicked off a brilliant first half for Smith, as he completed his first 13 passes, just shy of Warren Moon’s team record of 17 consecutive completions in 1998, executing Seattle’s offense flawlessly.
Smith was 17-of-18 for 164 yards and two first-half touchdowns as Seattle drove inside Denver’s 21-yard line, or scored, on all four drives.
Smith threw 38-yard touchdown passes to Dissly and 25 to Colby Parkinson as the Seahawks held the lead for most of the first half.
But Wilson almost matched Smith pass-for-pass, going 10-of-15 for 206 yards in the first half, including a 67-yard TD to Jeudy that tied the game at 10 late in the second quarter.
Denver outscored Seattle 257-219 in the first half
Smith led Seattle to the Denver 7 on Seattle’s second series. But hoping to deliver an early dagger, Carroll tried and Smith was stopped just short of the first attempt on a sneak.
That was the only first-half drive that didn’t end in a score for Seattle.
Denver punted just once in the first half, but was limited to field goals twice on drives inside Seattle’s 20, proving the difference in the halftime score.
This story will be updated.