Russell Wilson’s return to Seattle ended badly for the Broncos

SEATTLE — In a shiny mint suit and black bow tie, Russell Wilson was overdressed for this awkward affair. He looked like he was going to a gala, with his sparkly shirt buttons and patent leather shoes, instead of a controversial homecoming. If Wilson was expecting a party when he packed that outfit, he ended up Monday night in a more subdued frame of mind.

The Denver Broncos quarterback, who was playing his first game with his new team in the city he just left six months ago, experienced a noise he had never aimed at him at Lumen Field. Boooooo! He listened to fans who compared him to Alex Rodriguez, the director of a Seattle superstar’s most bitter departure, who took on a $252 million deal from the Texas Rangers more than two decades ago. The old “Let Russ Cook” characters had been revised to read “Let’s Cook Russ”. Through it all, he played with admirable focus, dissecting the Seattle Seahawks for 340 passing yards. In the end, it was the five meters he was no longer allowed to do that dominated the conversation.

At the end, Wilson watched from the sidelines as Brandon McManus attempted a 64-yard field goal with a win on the game. McManus missed. The Seahawks won, 17-16, over Wilson and over the assumption that life after Wilson is guaranteed to be terrible. A crowd of 68,965 people erupted into chants of “Geno! Genius!” to Wilson’s longtime understudy, Geno Smith, who just revived his career at age 31 after spending eight years as a backup.

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Still, Wilson called the night “special.” Considering how it played out, the most apt descriptions were: bizarre and difficult. A single game, even such a crazy one, won’t define Denver’s season unless the Broncos allow it. That said, they will have to work quickly to iron out such a mind-boggling defeat.

“We didn’t get it done,” Wilson said, “but there’s so much more we can do.”

In the record book, it counts as a typical season-opening road loss for a transition team with a new franchise player. But it will be remembered as a debut where rookie head coach Nathaniel Hackett showed he is still a teething leader. At the most critical moment, Hackett took football out of the hands of one of the greatest clutch quarterbacks of the era. He chose to let McManus kick what would have been a tie for the second-longest field goal in NFL history rather than going for fourth and 5th from Seattle’s 46-yard line.

Wilson had completed a 9-yard pass to run Javonte Williams back in third and 14th place with 1 minute and 11 seconds left. The Broncos still had three timeouts and the entire playbook would have been available to them on a possible fourth try. But Hackett had the team cut the clock back to 20 seconds before calling a timeout to bring in McManus.

“That’s a long field goal to hit,” Hackett admitted when explaining his decision. “I think he can do that, but of course I wish we had gotten a lot closer. It put us in that weird spot there because we were in the field goal range, but we were in the fourth-down situation. We have We just made the decision that we wanted to take our chance there.”

Despite winning a Super Bowl and playing Hall of Fame level for 10 years in Seattle, Wilson wanted the Seahawks to trade him, primarily to escape coach Pete Carroll’s conservative offensive philosophy and play for a team. which gave him more responsibility to decide matches with his arm. In his first game in a Broncos uniform, he commanded a charge that totaled 433 yards. He patiently carved out a young defense with green cornerbacks. But at the end of a final ride that could have reintroduced his greatness, Wilson was a spectator. He was Russ, cooked by the poor choice of his inexperienced head coach.

“I was surprised they finally took Russ out,” Carroll said.

To be fair, Hackett had two low percentage options. One required the improbable; the other demanded a historic feat. However, Wilson made a career by specializing in the former. Denver traded five draft picks and three players to take him from Seattle. For this season opener, it negotiated a contract extension with Wilson worth up to $245 million starting in two years. He’s in Denver to end the Broncos’ six-season playoff drought and return them to perpetual strife. In a way, Hackett mentioned an audible about a decision the franchise has already made.

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After that, Wilson did not question his coach.

“I believe in Coach Hackett,” Wilson said. “I believe in what we do. I don’t think it was the wrong decision either. I think [McManus] can make [the kick]. In hindsight, of course, he didn’t make it. But if we were in that situation again, I wouldn’t doubt whatever he decided.”

Of course, if Wilson had any doubts after Week 1, the Broncos would be in crisis. It is too early for cracks to develop. However, it is not too early to check. Denver achieved a trifecta indicating poor preparation and discipline. The team committed 12 penalties, failed to score a touchdown in four trips to the red zone, and lost two fumbles after the ball snapped at the 1-yard line. In the second half alone, the Broncos made three trips inside the 10-yard line and came away with just three runs.

“Bad deal,” Hackett said of the shoddy performance. “That starts with me. I just need to make sure we have a better plan.”

Overall, the Breakup Bowl hinted that both the Seahawks and Wilson should be fine on their own. There is little reason to believe that Wilson, still in his prime and on a team with good talent and solid weapons, will slip. The Seahawks were the big question mark. They had to show life and offer hope as they reconstruct their roster. Even without Wilson, there’s still some magic to the franchise. On Monday night, Smith gave an electric first half performance, finishing 23 of 28 for 195 yards and two touchdowns.

He left the field explain in an ESPN interview“They wrote me off. However, I will not write back.”

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He later explained of his long journey from perceived failure to resurrected starter: “I just finished working. That’s what I mean by ‘I never wrote back’. I don’t listen to that kind of thing. I just work. I know what I have in me.”

When the game was over, Wilson greeted Carroll in midfield and came running over to congratulate Smith. Then he made a long, unknown journey to the visitors’ dressing room. The losing locker room. He put on that suit and hoped it would hide the disappointment.

At his old team’s house, he said of his new team: “The great thing is I told these guys that we have to stand firm.”

He repeated the adjective.

Wilson found closure on Monday night. There is no more time to revisit the old or celebrate the new. The season has started, and with it the urgency.

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