College Football Pick’em
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Russell Wilson may have been the headliner of Monday night’s matchup between the Broncos and Seahawks, but his successor in Seattle, Geno Smith, left the primetime finale of Week 1 victorious. A nearly flawless performance from Smith, coupled with a physical showing from Pete Carroll’s defense in front of a raucous Seattle crowd, kept the Seahawks in front of their old friend all night. While Wilson threatened to play spoiler and steal the game at the end, inexplicable clock management on the Broncos’ final series left Denver unable to complete the comeback, securing a 17-16 win for the Seahawks on “Monday Night Football.”
Here are some instant takeaways from Monday’s big Seattle upset:
Believe it or not, Geno Smith actually played like the steadiest, most comfortable quarterback of the night. Aside from a single cross-body heave early in the contest, the longtime No. 2 not only kept the ball out of harm’s way but proactively extended plays, adopting a quasi-backyard approach to get eight different receivers involved. Seattle didn’t close or prolong drives as well as it could’ve, but under Smith’s guidance, the team never lost a lead, with Rashaad Penny showing plenty of burst despite just 12 carries. The defense was just as good, if not better, bending and bending but never breaking, surrendering over 400 total yards but forcing a pair of goal-line fumbles, making six stops behind the line and showcasing sustained physicality. Seattle was, simply put, the more disciplined and inspired team on the field.
There are plenty of reasons, including the fact that neither Melvin Gordon nor Javonte Williams could hold onto the ball on goal-line runs. But none will ring louder this week than the collective mental lapse between their new QB-coach pairing of Russell Wilson and Nathaniel Hackett, who let 30 seconds tick off the clock on their final series, only to settle for a 64-yard walk-off field-goal try. It was poor, inexplicable clock management for any organization, but especially one that went all in to add star power at QB this offseason, only to relegate said QB to the sidelines in crunch time. Denver’s “D” was feisty to keep things close, with Bradley Chubb in particular wreaking havoc, and Russ found Jerry Jeudy and Courtland Sutton for big plays. None of it added up to a reliable rhythm, however; it was a disjointed, undisciplined debut punctuated by 12 penalties.
A goal-line fumble is one thing; two straight goal-line fumbles is another. When Javonte Williams coughed up the ball during the second of the Broncos’ two red-zone failures, he ensured that Seattle would retain its tight lead into the final minutes of the third quarter. And, ultimately, Denver only got the ball back for two more series, going 15 plays on its next drive but settling for three points, then driving to the Seattle 46-yard line on its last series. Once the Broncos turned the ball over a second time while knocking on the door of the end zone, destiny just felt as if it belonged to the Seahawks.
Give it to the entire Seahawks defense, which stuffed Melvin Gordon at the goal line before punching the ball loose to force the first major takeaway of the night:
GOAL LINE STAND. @Seahawks
📺: #DENvsSEA on ESPN/ABC
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The Seahawks (1-0), who stand atop the NFC West after one week, will travel to San Francisco to visit the rival 49ers (0-1), who lost to the Bears in sloppy weather Sunday. The Broncos (0-1), meanwhile, will make their home debut against the Texans (0-0-1), who tied with the Colts.
WHAT IS HAPPENING HERE?
And the Broncos can’t even get the ball back with their timeouts. Why is Hackett even calling it? Counting on a fumbled snap? What?
McManus has the leg but hooks it wide to the left. Seahawks win the Russell Wilson revenge game. Broncos had plenty of chances and just blew em all. Wow.
Wait so they’re kicking a field goal now instead??? And McManus missed while getting iced???
Horrendous clock management by Russ and Nathaniel Hackett. Yikes.
Gonna be fourth-and-short here for the Broncos. Russ has one more chance to pick it up.
Hahaha Russ tried to take off with the ball after the pump fake fell out of his hands and bounced back into them. Nice try.
Williams only gained an extra yard or so by cutting back to the inside. The seconds that came off the clock were probably ore valuable. And now he loses a bunch of yards on a screen. Oof.
Pete Carroll is gonna challenge the spot of the ball on this conversion. High leverage situation. Not sure there’s gonna be enough evidence to overturn it.
Oof… drop by Jerry Jeudy could have gotten Denver a first down. Russ needs to convert on third here, to keep the comeback in his old stomping grounds alive.
Denver’s execution in the red zone has been… subpar, to say the least. Now looks like Nathaniel Hackett will opt for a field goal to cut the lead to 1 point, rather than going for a touchdown.
Yet another Broncos penalty. Takes a potential touchdown off the board. Yikes-level stuff from Denver, discipline-wise tonight.
Let’s see if Denver can actually turn this goal-to-go opportunity into a touchdown this time. 0-2 the last two trips.
Russ had an easy completion to Albert O right in front of him that could’ve been a catch and run, but tried to hit Saubert for a touchdown instead. Falls incomplete.
Slide route from Jerry Jeudy coming across the formation gets the Broncos into the red zone. Nice job by Russ to draw the edge toward him and flip it over the top.
Another injury to a Seahawks defensive back as Tariq Woolen walks to the sideline holding his arm down to the side as if he has some sort of shoulder injury.
Back to back great plays from the Denver defense, first by Bradley Chubb on the strip-sack, and then by Ronald Darby to get a PBU on third-and-long. Broncos getting the ball back here.
Quite the surprising stat here:
QB rushing thru 3Q
Smith: 2 att, 15 yds
Wilson: 1 att, 2 yds
Big run for Rashaad Penny gets called back due to holding on rookie tackle Abraham Lucas. Seattle OL has been quite good tonight but that mistake costs them.
And it’s Mike Jackson on the recovery again. That’s unusual.
ANOTHER Broncos RB fumble at the goal line. Yikes. This time it’s Javonte Williams.
Wilson had both Hamler and Albert O streaking up the field and tried to flip it to… one of them but it fell to the ground. Unfortunately for Seattle, Tariq Woolen gets called for DPI for holding Hamler back from trying to reach for the football.
Randy Gregory gets into the scrum and strips the ball out of Metcalf’s hands. Big play by the Denver defense forces a sudden change.
That’s a big boy grab by DK Metcalf. Holding off Surtain with his back and snatches the ball out of the air. Sheesh.
Surtain gets called for PI on one play then gets a PBU on the next… but Bradley Chubb gets called for roughing the passer. Broncos defense has gotten called for a whole bunch of penalties tonight.
…actually that might be either a touchdown or just down by contact. Either way there will be a review.
Oh boy… Gordon tried to reach the ball for the end zone after getting stuffed at the line but instead got it knocked out of his hands. Recovered by Mike Jackson.
Melvin Gordon down JUST shy of the goal line on that checkdown from Russ. Great effort to break a couple tackles and stretch the ball out.
Wilson tries to go up top down the left sideline again, this time for Courtland Sutton. Underthrows the deep ball a bit but that works out in his favor as Sutton draws DPI and sets up the Broncos inside the 10-yard line.
Andrew Beck is having a nice night. Two big catches in the first half and just made a really good block to to spring Melvin Gordon for a big gain right there.
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