Geno Smith starts hot, Seahawks D finishes to beat Broncos in Russell Wilson return

There was a lot of hope for Geno Smith’s NFL future when he was at West Virginia. He was a good quarterback in college.

It didn’t work out for him with the New York Jets and he entered the backup phase of his career. The Seattle Seahawks were mocked for trading Russell Wilson and giving Smith a chance to start.

It took a long time, but Smith finally had the game of his NFL career on a night when Wilson returned to Seattle.

Smith did most of his damage in the first half, but that was enough. Seattle’s defense made some huge stands to hold onto the lead in the first half, denying Wilson a chance to beat his former team in his return to Seattle. The Broncos attempted a 64-yard field goal with 20 seconds left, but Brandon McManus missed and the Seahawks held on for the 17-16 victory.

Smith completed his first 13 passes and had a couple of touchdowns in the first half to give Seattle the lead. It cooled off after that, but the defense made some clutch plays to stand up. The Broncos’ odd decision to let time run out in the final seconds and try a desperation field goal will be talked about all week. Wilson would probably like the opportunity to do so.

The Seahawks are not expected to win many games this season and it remains to be seen how good they will be. But the win in the first game against their former quarterback had to be sweet. Especially for Smith.

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith (7) had a productive game against the Broncos. (AP Photo/Stephen Brashear)

Seahawks lead in first half

The Seahawks came out quickly. Maybe it had to do with the Broncos not playing any starters during the preseason, but Denver was sloppy on both ends. The defense in particular had a lot of problems, especially with their linebackers trying to cover the tight ends. Smith completed his first 13 passes. Many of his big plays, including both of his first half touchdowns, went on tight ends. He was sharp.

The Broncos stayed in the game because of a long pass from Wilson to Jerry Jeudy, when Jeudy caught a contested deep pass and then outran the defense to the end zone for a 67-yard score. Seattle led 17-13 at halftime and stayed that way in the third quarter because the Broncos made mistakes near the goal line. That’s another sign of a team that didn’t play in the preseason.

The Broncos took it to fourth and goal at the 1 and gave it to Melvin Gordon. It fumbled just short of the goal line and Seattle recovered. After Seattle missed a punt, the Broncos again drove to the 5. This time they tested Javonte Williams, who hit the backfield and punted. Seattle got that back too.

Seattle played well in the first half and was probably lucky to go into the fourth quarter with the lead.

The Broncos have trouble near the goal line

The Broncos couldn’t score near the goal line. The Broncos returned to the 5-yard line in the fourth quarter, but were unable to get into the end zone again and settled for a field goal. They trailed 17-16 after that.

At that point the Seahawks needed Smith to make some plays to keep Wilson on the sideline. Seattle went three and out, with two short passes stuffed and then Smith getting sacked by Bradley Chubb on third down.

Wilson had 4:02 to work, starting at his own 22. The same fans who booed Wilson before the game had to be nervous. Wilson is a master at winning the game and had done so many times at this stage. It was fantastic drama, just what the NFL wanted when it scheduled Wilson’s Week 1 return.

Albert Okwuegbunam had a great success with a third goal he scored with the finale to keep the drive alive. Okwuegbunam stopped short but put in a great effort to barely get the first. Wilson hit Williams for another third down conversion. The Broncos were closing in on a field goal. The Broncos went back on a rushed first down to Williams with the pass rush coming. Wilson threw incomplete, lost the ball as he tried to pull it back. He faced a third-and-14. Williams made some run on third down to set up a fourth-and-5 in the final minute.

The Broncos, who had all three timeouts remaining, inexplicably let the clock run down to 20 seconds before calling a timeout. The Broncos then attempted a 64-yard field goal instead of making it. McManus narrowly missed it left. It was a clock management fiasco that led to the decision to go for the goal. McManus did his best, but that’s a field goal not many can kick. It would make more sense to let Wilson do it.

The Seahawks no longer have Wilson. But they beat him.

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