SEATTLE – When the Broncos started what they hoped was a game-winning drive to put an exclamation point on quarterback Russell Wilson’s debut with his new team and matchup against his old team, coach Nathaniel Hackett asked kicker Brandon McManus for his field-goal range.
Seattle 46-yard line, left hash.
And with that, the Broncos went to work with four minutes remaining, but due to equal parts poor execution and bad time management, they stalled at the — you guessed it — Seahawks 46-yard line and 20 seconds remaining.
Instead of putting the football in Wilson’s hands for a fourth-and-5 play, coach Nathaniel Hackett burned 40 seconds of the clock before sending out McManus, whose 64-yard attempt was wide right with 15 seconds remaining, allowing the Seahawks to escape with a 17-16 victory.
“They got me exactly that spot so I was ready and knew there was a good chance we would kick it,” said McManus, who is 1-of-8 in his career from beyond 60 yards. “It obviously feels good to have confidence in me to put me out there at 64, but I have to start making some of those long ones.”
The Broncos outgained Seattle 433-253, but never led in a game that will be remembered for their pathetic red zone performance (zero touchdowns in four trips, including two goal-line fumbles), the penalties (12 for 106 yards) and the chaos that was the offense’s pre-snap operation.
The Broncos went field goal, fumble on fourth down, fumble and field goal in the red zone.
“That’s the game,” center Lloyd Cushenberry said. “We have to finish from the 1-yard line. Throwing it in, running it in, we have to get six points. That’s why we lost.”
In his head-coaching debut, Hackett will be in the cross-hairs for his final-minute decision-making … and rightly so. Who was advising him on the sideline and in the headset? And was Hackett listening?
The Broncos moved to their 49-yard line with 1:24 remaining.
First down: Williams lost four yards when an under-pressure Wilson flipped him a pass. The clock stops at 1:13 because two Seattle players were injured.
Second down: Wilson throws incomplete into the ground after he was unable to pump fake the football. The clock read 1:11. Third down: Wilson threw to Williams in the left flat and Williams gained nine yards to the Seahawks’ 46.
But then things got wonky.
The Williams played ended at 1:03 and the 40-second play clock started at 1:00.
The Broncos took their time getting to the line of scrimmage and Wilson called timeout with 20 seconds remaining to avoid another delay-of-game penalty.
Hackett said afterward the plan was to always call timeout and send out McManus.
“I was expecting to go for it but Javonte made an incredible play to put us into field goal and the range we were looking for,” Hackett said.
McManus missed the kick and the Broncos missed a prime opportunity to start 1-0 for the seventh time in 10 years.
Instead, the Broncos were left to lament what went wrong.
“Turnovers, red zone, penalties,” Hackett said. “Bad deal.”
The red zone struggles merit a breakdown:
First quarter: The Broncos reached the 18-yard line, but committed a penalty and settled for a McManus 30-yard field goal.
Third quarter: On fourth down from the 1, running back Melvin Gordon was stopped short and fumbled. The Broncos had two delay of game penalties on this drive; they had two in 17 games last year.
Third quarter: On third down from the 1, Williams was stopped short and fumbled.
Fourth quarter: The Broncos reached the 3-yard line, but a Courtland Sutton false start penalty led to a McManus 26-yard field goal.
Add it up and the Broncos scored only six of a possible 28 points in the red zone. Pitiful.
“We just have to be better in the red zone and that starts with me,” Hackett said.
The Broncos played from behind nearly the entire game. The Seahawks led 7-0 (Will Dissly 38-yard touchdown catch), 10-3 (Jason Myers 49-yard field goal), 17-10 (Colby Parkinson 25-yard touchdown catch) before kicking two McManus field goals (40 and 26 yards).
Wilson was 29-of-42 passing for 340 yards and one touchdown. His Seattle replacement, Geno Smith, was 23 of 28 for 195 yards.
Wilson spread the football around to seven players, including 11 catches for 65 yards by Williams.
“Guess what: There are 16 more games to go,” Wilson said. “I’m looking forward to what we can do.”
Friends to enemies
For the 29th time in NFL history, a Super Bowl-winning quarterback faced the team he won his first Lombardi Trophy with when Russell Wilson took on the Seattle Seahawks on Monday night. All told, those QBs are 16-12-1 vs. their old club, and 6-5 in their first meeting. Here’s a look at how each of those initial meetings went:
|Joe Montana, Kansas City||San Francisco||9/11/94||19-31-2-0||203||Won, 24-17|
|Comment: Chiefs went to AFC title game in Montana’s first season in KC, but lost in wild card in Year 2|
|Jim McMahon, Minnesota||Chicago||9/12/93||23-29-1-0||173||Won, 10-7|
|Comment: Coming eight years after 85 Bears’ Super Bowl season, this was first of two wins vs. Chicago.|
|Jeff Hostetler, Oakland||at N.Y. Giants||11/12/95||13-19-1-1||152||Won, 17-13|
|Comment: A Super Bowl winner after taking over as Phil Simms’ backup, Hostetler went 1-1-1 vs. NYG.|
|Mark Rypien, St. Louis||Washington||12/17/95||34-50-1-1||347||Lost, 35-23|
|Comment: The uncle of Broncos backup quarterback Brett Rypien never recaptured his SB magic.|
|Kurt Warner, Arizona||St. Louis||9/18/05||29-42-0-1||327||Lost 17-12|
|Comment: All told, Warner faced the Rams nine times as division rivals, winning seven of them.|
|Trent Dilfer, Cleveland||at Baltimore||10/16/05||16-30-0-1||147||Lost, 16-3|
|Comment: Dilfer was the only QB to face his Super Bowl-winning club with two different teams. He lost both.|
|Brad Johnson, Dallas||Tampa Bay||10/26/08||19-33-1-0||122||Won, 13-9|
|Comment: A backup in ’08, Johnson got the start against Bucs six years after they won SB together.|
|Brett Favre, Minnesota||Green Bay||10/5/09||24-31-3-0||271||Won, 30-23|
|Comment: First of four meetings between Favre, Packers. He won first two. Aaron Rodgers took final two|
|Peyton Manning, Denver||at Indianapolis||10/20/13||29-49-3-1||386||Lost, 33-29|
|Comment: PFM’s old club had his number, winning three of four meetings, including divisional playoff.|
|Tom Brady, Tampa Bay||at New England||10/3/21||22-43-0-0||269||Won, 19-17|
|Comment: A year after winning a Super Bowl without Bill Belichick, TB12 beat him on the field.|
|Russell Wilson, Denver||at Seattle||9/12/22||29-42-1-0||340||Lost, 17-16|
|Comment: The first game of the Wilson era ended with the franchise QB watching a 64-yard kick. Strange.|