SEATTLE — There are still many games to come in Russell Wilson’s Denver Broncos career.
But in his first start with his new team as well as his first commitment back to the city where he played his first 10 NFL seasons, the Broncos quarterback traded five draft picks and three players for – the one they signed for for $245 million. extension earlier this month – was the second choice with the season opener in play.
Wilson’s stat line certainly played a part in Monday night’s 17-16 loss to the Seattle Seahawks at Lumen Field. He finished the emotional night 29 of 42 passing for 340 yards and a touchdown.
But with 20 seconds left and trailing by one, Broncos coach Nathaniel Hackett opted to have Brandon McManus attempt a 64-yard field goal for the win instead of letting Wilson try to lead a play in the fourth. and fifth in the Seahawks’ 46. – sorting line.
“We were on the line [of McManus’ range]” Hackett said. “…Brandon tried his best…obviously I wish we had gotten a lot closer, it put us in this weird place because we were in that field goal range…we got just made that decision and took our shot there.”
Wilson offered his take.
“We might have the best field goal kicker in the game,” Wilson said. “…We got there and unfortunately it didn’t work out…I believe in Coach Hackett, I believe in what we’re doing, I believe in everything.”
As Wilson added, “I don’t think it was the wrong decision.”
McManus’ first attempt sailed left, but Seahawks coach Pete Carroll had called a timeout just before the snap. Hackett said he wasn’t considering returning the attack to the pitch after the canceled miss because “I was happy he knocked that one out. We had a lot of distance and we thought we could get there .”
Carroll said he was “surprised” the Broncos chose to kick.
“We weren’t thinking about field goal there,” he said. “We thought it was the fourth down and they were still going. So it gave us a chance to win the game on that play. It was a chance there. Luckily they didn’t get the shot. kick. He expelled the ball from hell.”
McManus’ second attempt also sailed left, and Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith, who won a training camp battle against Drew Lock to win the job as Wilson’s successor, took a knee on three snaps to close an emotional night all around. Lock was one of three players the Broncos sent to the Seahawks in the March blockbuster.
“It was a special game, just because I got to see and play against some of my closest friends,” Wilson said.
“I wouldn’t be where I am today without this place… but I haven’t played [tonight] for this game alone. I have a greater mission.”
Almost from the time the full NFL schedule was released, the Wilson-Seahawks reunion has been circled on many calendars. Wilson, his new teammates with the Broncos and Seahawks had all publicly played the card just another game.
But the answer to whether Wilson would be booed after 10 seasons in Seattle that included nine Pro Bowl selections, two trips to the Super Bowl and a Super Bowl win was answered from when Wilson took the field to pre-game activities. The Seahawks faithful booed vigorously throughout.
The crowd, as if in an effort to show that many of those in attendance had moved on, even chanted “Ge-no, Ge-no, Ge-no” whenever Smith made notable plays, and Seahawks coach Pete Carroll was often beckoning the crowd to make more noise whenever the Broncos had the ball. The crowd chanted Smith’s name as the quarterback knelt to seal the victory.
“It didn’t bother me,” Wilson said. “It was a hostile environment; it always has been. I didn’t expect to get a round of applause once in a while. I gave everything I had here every day, every day. days, and anyone who says anything else is completely wrong.’
Wilson and the Broncos’ offense got off to a subdued start, as Wilson didn’t target a wide receiver on a pass attempt until he connected with Jerry Jeudy on a 67 touchdown yards with 5 minutes and 34 seconds. left in the first half. But overall, even though they sped things up, the Broncos couldn’t turn their 433 yards into enough points.
Denver running backs Melvin Gordon III and Javonte Williams each lost fumbles on plays that started at the Seahawks’ 1-yard line to nullify two potential drives, and the Broncos failed to tally touchdowns on of their other two trips inside Seattle’s 20-yard line. .
Throw all 12 Broncos penalties (for 106 yards) and the Seahawks won despite just 253 total yards and no second-half points on offense.
“I think he played very well, he took care of the football, he made very good decisions, he had explosive plays, he was able to distribute the ball all over the pitch,” said Hackett about Wilson. I’m really frustrated for him.”
On the other hand, Smith was almost perfect in the first half. Smith completed his first 13 passes of the game and was 17 of 18 with two touchdowns to lead the Seahawks to a 17-13 halftime advantage. The Broncos defense had a shutout in the second half.
“We kind of took the nervousness out [in the first half]” Broncos linebacker Bradley Chubb said.
“When we sorted it out…we got back on track.”
As Wilson explained, “We had a lot of good plays, we threw the ball down the field…we had a lot of good things. The reality is we didn’t put the ball in the area goals in those red zone games.”
Wilson had arrived at the stadium in a fashion week-worthy ensemble several hours before kick-off, and almost every moment was something of a reunion as he moved around the stadium and through his warm-ups.
A handshake here, a wave there, Wilson struggled to at least try to continue to stick to the script he and the rest of the Broncos had been trying to stick to throughout the days and weeks. ahead of Monday’s game.
Former Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman appeared on stadium video boards 30 minutes before kickoff to a loud ovation. And former running back Marshawn Lynch was another of many ex-Seahawks roaming the sidelines during warmups.
It all ended with McManus failing and a celebration by the Seattle “12s” that Wilson had hoped to welcome him back.
“Tonight was special,” Wilson said.
“It was still a special environment in a place that I love.”
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