Russ on Broncos’ late kick: Wasn’t wrong decision
11: 22 PM ET
Jeff LegwoldESPN Senior Writer
- Covered Broncos for nine years for Denver Post and Rocky Mountain News
- Previously covered Steelers, Bills and Titans
- Member of Pro Football Hall of Fame Board
of Selectors since 1999
SEATTLE — There will be many games still to come in Russell Wilson‘s Denver Broncos career.
But in his first start with his new team as well as his first return engagement to the city where he played his first 10 NFL seasons, the quarterback the Broncos traded five draft picks and three players for — the one they signed to a $245 million extension earlier this month — was the second choice with the season opener on the line.
Wilson’s stat line certainly looked the part in Monday night’s 17-16 loss to the Seattle Seahawks at Lumen Field. He finished the emotional evening 29-of-42 passing for 340 yards and a touchdown.
But with 20 seconds to play and trailing by one, Broncos coach Nathaniel Hackett chose to have Brandon McManus attempt a 64-yard field goal for the win instead of letting Wilson try to lead a play on fourth-and-5 at the Seahawks’ 46-yard line. We were right on McManus’ line ],” Hackett stated. “… Brandon gave his best shot. I think we could have been closer. It put us in that strange spot because we were within that field goal range. … We made that decision and took our shot. ”
Wilson shared his view.
” We had the best field goal kicker in the game,’ Wilson stated. “… We made it, but it didn’t go in. … I believe Hackett, in me, in our work, in everything. ”
Wilson said, “I don’t think it was a bad decision. ”
McManus’ first attempt sailed wide left, but Seahawks coach Pete Carroll had called a timeout just before the snap. Hackett stated that he didn’t think about sending the offense back to the field after the negated missed because “I was happy that he got that one out the way.” We had plenty of distance, and we thought that we would be able make it. ”
Carroll said he was “surprised” the Broncos opted to kick.
“We didn’t think of a field goal there,” he stated. “We thought it was fourth down, and they were still moving. It gave us a chance of winning the game on that play. It was a good thing. They didn’t make it. He kicked the ball hard. “
McManus’ second attempt also sailed wide left, and Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith, who won a training camp battle over Drew Lock for the job as Wilson’s successor, took a knee on three snaps to close a stirring night all around. Lock was one of three players that the Broncos sent to the Seahawks during the March blockbuster.
” This was a special match because I got to play against some of my closest friends.
” Without this place, I wouldn’t be where today. But I didn’t just play [tonight] for this one game. I have a bigger mission. ”
The Wilson-Seahawks reunion was marked on many calendars almost immediately after the NFL schedule was published. Wilson, his new teammates with the Broncos, Seahawks, and Seahawks had all played the “just-another-game” card.
But the answer to the question of whether Wilson would be booed after 10 seasons in Seattle that included nine Pro Bowl selections, two Super Bowl trips and one Lombardi trophy was answered from the moment Wilson took the field for pregame activities. The Seahawks faithful booed incessantly throughout.
The crowd cheered lustily throughout the game, as if it were an effort to show that many of those present had moved on. As Smith took his final kneel-downs, the crowd chanted his name.
“It did not bother me,” Wilson stated. It was hostile, it has always been. I didn’t expect to receive a round of applause once in a while. I gave everything I had every day and every day. Anyone who says otherwise is completely wrong. ”
Wilson and the Broncos’ offense had a toned-down start, given Wilson didn’t target a wide receiver on a pass attempt until he hooked up with Jerry Jeudy on a 67-yard catch-and-run touchdown with 5 minutes, 34 seconds left in the first half. But overall, even as they got things cranked up, the Broncos couldn’t turn their 433 yards of offense into enough points.
Denver running backs Melvin Gordon III and Javonte Williams each lost a fumble on plays that started at the Seahawks’ 1-yard line to negate two potential scoring drives, and the Broncos failed to tally touchdowns on their other two trips inside the Seattle 20-yard line.
Toss in the Broncos’ 12 penalties (for 106 yards) and the Seahawks won despite just 253 total yards and no second-half points. Hackett said that Wilson played well. He was efficient, took care of the ball, made good decisions and was able to spread the ball around the field. “That’s what frustrates me about him. Smith was nearly 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 kept the game close in the second half.
“We kind of got the jitters out [in the first half],” Broncos linebacker Bradley Chubb said. After we tuned it in, we got back on track. ”
Wilson explained that “We had a lot great plays, we threw it around the field,… did a lot great things. We didn’t get to the end zone on those red-zone plays. ”
Wilson arrived at the stadium in a fashion-week ensemble hours before kickoff. It was almost like a reunion as he moved through warm-ups and through the stadium. Wilson tried to maintain the script he and his teammates had tried to follow throughout the weeks and days leading up to 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 several ex-Seahawks roaming the sidelines during warm-ups.
It all ended with McManus’ miss and a celebration by the Seattle “12s” Wilson had hoped would welcome him back.
“Tonight, Wilson said.
“It’s still a special place in a place I love. ”
The author of 5 books, 3 of which are New York Times bestsellers. I’ve been published in more than 100 newspapers and magazines and am a frequent commentator on NPR.