There was a lot of hope for Geno Smith's NFL future when he was at West Virginia. He was a heck of a college quarterback.
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 made his return to Seattle.
Smith did most of his damage in the first half, but that was enough. Seattle's defense had some huge goal-line stands to make the first-half lead hold up, denying Wilson a chance to beat his former team on his return to Seattle. The Broncos tried a 64-yard field goal with 20 seconds left but Brandon McManus missed, and the Seahawks held on to a 17-16 win.
Smith completed his first 13 passes and had a couple first-half touchdowns to give Seattle the lead. He cooled down after that but the defense made some clutch plays to make it stand up. The weird decision by the Broncos to let time run in the final seconds and try a desperation field goal will be talked about all week. Wilson probably would have liked the chance to go for it.
The Seahawks aren't expected to win a lot of games this season, and it remains to be seen how good they'll be. But winning the opener against their former quarterback had to be sweet. Especially for Smith.
Seahawks take a first-half lead
The Seahawks came out fast. Perhaps it had something to do with the Broncos not playing any key players during the preseason, but Denver was sloppy on both sides. The defense in particular had multiple issues, especially with their linebackers trying to cover tight ends. Smith completed his first 13 passes. Many of his big plays, including both first-half touchdowns, went to tight ends. He was sharp.
The Broncos stayed in the game due to 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 it stayed that way through 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 went for it on fourth-and-goal at the 1 and gave it to Melvin Gordon. He fumbled just short of the goal line and Seattle recovered. After Seattle lost a fumble, the Broncos got back inside the 5. This time they tried Javonte Williams, who was hit in the backfield and fumbled. Seattle recovered that one too.
Seattle played well in the first half, and was probably fortunate to get to the fourth quarter with the lead.
Broncos have trouble near the goal line
The Broncos couldn't score near the goal line. The Broncos got back inside the 5-yard line in the fourth quarter, but couldn't get in 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 getting stuffed and then Smith being sacked by Bradley Chubb on third down.
Wilson had 4:02 to work with, starting at his own 22. The same fans who booed Wilson before the game had to be nervous. Wilson is masterful at the game-winning drive and had done it many times in that stadium. It was fantastic drama, just as the NFL wanted when it scheduled Wilson's return for Week 1.
A great reach on a third-down catch by tight end Albert Okwuegbunam got a first down and kept the drive alive. Okwuegbunam was stopped short but had a great effort play to barely get the first down. Wilson hit Williams for another third-down conversion. The Broncos were getting close to field-goal range. The Broncos went backward on a hurried first-down pass to Williams with the pass rush coming. Wilson threw incomplete, losing the ball as he tried to pull it back. He faced a third-and-14. Williams picked up some yardage on third down to set up fourth-and-5 in the final minute.
The Broncos, who had all three timeouts left, inexplicably let time run down to 20 seconds before calling a timeout. Then the Broncos tried a 64-yard field goal instead of going for it. McManus barely missed it wide left. It was a clock management fiasco that led to the decision to go for the field goal. McManus did his best but that's a field goal not many kickers will make. It would have made more sense to let Wilson go for it.
The Seahawks don't have Wilson anymore. But they did get a win over him.