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Seattle Seahawks stun Denver Broncos: 5 winners and losers, including Geno Smith

We’re not 100% sure what to say about the Seattle Seahawks’ shocking Week 1 win over Russell Wilson and the Denver Broncos on Monday night. Seattle was ahead for pretty much the entire game as Geno Smith outplayed his better-known counterpart.

But as the fourth quarter drew on, it looked like the Broncos were going to be able to pull off a late-game comeback. That included having the ball inside Seattle’s 50-yard line while facing a fourth-and-five.

In stunning fashion, new Broncos head coach Nathaniel Hackett opted to go for a 64-yard game-winning field goal rather than give Wilson a chance to get it closer for Brandon McManus. The kick missed, giving Seattle a stunning 17-16 win over its former quarterback. Below, we provide you with five winners and losers from the Seattle Seahawks’ one-point victory over the Denver Broncos.

Related: Seattle Seahawks schedule and game-by-game predictions

Winner: Pete Carroll exacts revenge for the Seattle Seahawks

NFL: Denver Broncos at Seattle Seahawks
Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

We can focus on Carroll’s terrible challenge late in the fourth quarter. It’s decision that cost Seattle a timeout and could have played a role if it weren’t for Denver’s clock management issues. What we will say is that Carroll has a lot of skeptics with eggs on their face following this dramatic Week 1 win.

“I’m in the business of helping these guys get ready to play with all of the work that we do and all of the mentality and the culture and the environment that we’re in. We’ve been averaging 10 wins a year for the last 20-something years. You think I could think anything different than that?

Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll ahead of Week 1

We join those who deserve to have egg on their faces. Carroll had his Seahawks ready to play out of the gate Monday evening. It’s a testament to his coaching. And it now actually has Seattle in first place in the NFC West. Imagine that.

Related: Seattle Seahawks standing in Sportsnaut’s updated NFL defensive rankings

Loser: Jamal Adams injury issues continue for the Seattle Seahawks

NFL: Denver Broncos at Seattle Seahawks
Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

This All-Pro safety dropped a potential interception early in the game, only to exit later in the first half with a leg injury. It’s just a continuation of injuries that have plagued Adams since he joined Seattle in a blockbuster trade with the New York Jets.

Adams missed nine games over the course of his first two seasons in Seattle. It led to him struggling to make an impact in 2021 (zero sacks) after recording 9.5 quarterback take downs during an All-Pro appearance in 2020. We just hope the injury is not too serious here. Unfortuntely, it might very well be.

Winner: Geno Smith plays “elite” football in season opener

NFL: Denver Broncos at Seattle Seahawks
Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Smith did not receive the same fanfare heading into this one compared to former Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson. Sure Smith beat out Drew Lock for the starting job. But he has not been a starter-caliber signal caller since his days with the New York Jets back in 2014. Even that’s being favorable to what we’ve seen from Smith throughout his career.

Either way, the former second-round pick outplayed Wilson throughout the game. That included completing 17-of-18 passes for two touchdowns in the first half. When all was said and done, Smith missed on just five of his 28 passes. Sure he struggled to an extent in the second half. But playing mistake-free football helped Seattle pull off the home upset.

Related: Denver Broncos schedule and game-by-game predictions

Loser: Time management issues for the Denver Broncos

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Denver Broncos
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

What in the world was new Broncos head coach Nathaniel Hackett thinking late in the fourth quarter? On fourth and five from Seattle’s 46-yard line, Hackett let the clock run down from 1:11 remaining until there were 20 seconds left. With all three timeouts remaining, we were all still trying to figure out what Denver was doing.

Instead of giving a future Hall of Fame quarterback a chance to defeat his former team, Hackett used a timeout and sent Brandon McManus on to the field for a 64-yard field goal attempt. The kick missed, sending Denver to an ugly road loss to open the season. Why in the world would Hackett attempt a desperation kick instead of giving Wilson a chance to pull off his first signature win over his Broncos career? It just made no sense.

Winner: Cody Barton steps up big time for the Seattle Seahawks

NFL: Seattle Seahawks at Arizona Cardinals
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

With all of five career starts heading into his fourth season with Seattle, this former third-round pick from Utah wasn’t necessarily someone most had an eye on heading into the opening Monday Night Football game of the season. Boy, did Barton make a name for himself in front of fans in Seattle.

The linebacker recorded 10 tackles (eight solo) with two tackles for loss and a quarterback hit in the opener. That included snuffing out a screen pass from Wilson to Javonte Williams for a four-yard loss late in the fourth quarter to make McManus’ field goal attempt even longer. Talk about a major breakout performance from this unheralded defender.

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