The Seattle Seahawks spoil the return of Russell Wilson and surprise the Denver Broncos

SEATTLE — The Seattle Seahawks disturb the Denver Broncos 17-16 monday night like Russell Wilsonwho played his first 10 seasons in Seattle, was outclassed by gene smith.

Seattle Seahawks

Despite all the speculation leading up to Monday night’s season opener about how Wilson would be received in his first game against his old team, it was his former backup who received the loudest ovation.

And he stole the show.

As boos reigned relentlessly over Wilson, the crowd at Lumen Field celebrated each big Smith play with chants of “GENO, GENO!” And there were enough of them, including a pair of touchdown passes in the first half, to lift Seattle to a 17-16 victory.

It will take years to determine if the Seahawks made the right move by trading Wilson in March for a large draft amount instead of trying to make things work with the best quarterback in franchise history. A game, as exciting as it was, does not validate that move. But it does provide some immediate satisfaction for the Seahawks, and some hope for their fans that maybe this season isn’t the slog everyone has assumed it will be.

QB breakdown: Making his first Week 1 start since 2014, Smith didn’t look like a longtime backup expected to be little more than game manager. He looked like an NFL starter. Smith completed his first 13 passes and went 17-for-18 with a pair of touchdowns during a nearly perfect first half. He was precise and avoided the big mistake that plagued him in crucial moments when he replaced Wilson last season. He also made plays with his legs, stepping into the pocket to escape pressure and avoiding deadly sacks in the process. Smith finished 23 of 28 for 195 yards and two touchdown passes.

Buying the great performance of the Seattle tight ends: A popular belief within team headquarters this offseason was that tight ends would be a bigger part of the Seahawks’ offense this season, because any quarterback who replaced Wilson would be more inclined to throw in their direction than he would be. . That seemed like a prophetic thought on Monday night, with Dissly, Noah Fant Y colby-parkinson catching a combined eight passes for 102 yards and two touchdowns. His nine combined targets were six fewer than Seattle’s receivers. Seattle acquired Fant in the Wilson trade and re-signed Dissly to a three-year, $24 million deal after testing free agency. The cost of signing him increased when another team came after him hard. That team? The Broncos.

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

Understated stat to know: Geno Smith is the third quarterback since 1990 to complete each of his first 13 passes in a Week 1 game, joining Gardner Minshew (2019 Jaguars) and Jim Kelly (1990 Bills).

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

Denver Broncos

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

Under new defensive coordinator Used Everothe Broncos tried to be aggressive on the pass rush, trying to keep the ball away from the Seahawks’ wide receivers. D. K. Metcalf Y Tyler Lockettbut it wasn’t until outside linebacker Randy Gregory he plucked the ball from Metcalf’s hands late in the third quarter so the Broncos’ defense could settle.

As a result, Wilson’s 340 passing yards and one touchdown were almost a nondescript footnote in Seattle’s 17-16 win that ended with a missed shot. Brandon McManus Field goal attempt from 64 yards.

It won’t be a carefree ride through Denver’s defense evaluations. Seahawks tight ends caught six passes for 98 yards and two touchdowns before halftime, and Seahawks quarterback gene smith he completed his first 13 passes of the game as part of a 17-for-18, two-touchdown performance in the first half.

Basic game: The Broncos were in a fight from the start and never led. His night ended when McManus missed a 64-yard field goal attempt with 14 seconds left. On a third-and-14 with 1:11 left, Wilson hit Javonte Williams with a 9-yard pass, setting up a fourth-and-5 from the Seattle 46-yard line. Instead of going for the first down with three times remaining immediately after the third-down pass, the Broncos dropped the clock to 20 seconds, called a timeout and missed the field goal.

worrying trend: Week 1 hype is as old as the NFL, but since the Broncos reside in a division where all three other teams have quarterbacks who have been named to the Pro Bowl, Smith manages and gives out 17 of 18 passes in the opening half can not be ignored.

And though the Broncos harassed Smith a bit and hit him several times, he moved the ball quickly, created time in the pocket with quality footwork and was more than willing to take the safest completion available. A game doesn’t set a trend, but the Broncos’ running backs will have to get to the quarterback more often, and they can’t allow any quarterback to go 13-for-13 to open a game.

Biggest hole in the game plan: Part of that was no doubt the Seahawks’ defensive game plan to keep things funneled to where the help was, but the Broncos’ wide receivers were hit only twice in the first half as the Seahawks took control of the pace of the game. play.

Wilson didn’t put the ball in danger, and that was a good thing, but while coach Nathaniel Hackett expected to be aggressive on offense, the Broncos weren’t the aggressors, especially early in the game. And when the Seahawks got the tempo of the game where they wanted it to be, it became a struggle for the Broncos.

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

Worrying trend II: Double-digit penalties for 100+ yards? Critics will point to Hackett’s easy approach to preseason games, in which virtually every starter didn’t play at all.

The penalties came on both sides of the ball and were mistimed, especially a false start with less than 7 minutes left and the Broncos inside the Seahawks 5-yard line, and too often broke the momentum. — Jeff Legwold

Understated stat to know: The Broncos are the first team since the 1987 Chiefs to lose two fumbles from the opponent’s 1-yard line in the same game, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The latest instance occurred in a game that used replacement players.

Next game: vs. Texans (4:25 p.m. ET, Sept. 18)

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