Well, who knows where the Russell Wilson trade goes from here?
But for one night, this was that post-Wilson team Pete Carroll envisioned he’d have: gutty, hard-playing, largely mistake-free and ultimately pulling out a win that to most seemed unlikely heading into the game.
“Nobody gave us a chance to win this football game,” Carroll said. “We didn’t play because of that. We played because we were trying to play good football. That really is the case.”
OK, we’ll accept that for now. But suffice to say this is maybe the happiest 1-0 Carroll has been since taking over as Seattle coach in 2010.
On to the grades:
Geno Smith, in his first opening day start in eight years, did what Carroll wanted — he took care of the ball and made plays when they were there to be made and didn’t force them when they weren’t in going 23 of 28 for 195 yards, two touchdowns and, most important, no turnovers.
The first-drive TD pass of 38 yards to Will Dissly was a downright Wilson-esque play, Smith improvising to give Seattle a lead it never relinquished. His second TD pass of 25 yards to Colby Parkinson was a designed throw that had to be perfect and was.
He also showed that at 31 years old he still has some wheels with six well-timed runs for 14 yards, including a designed run that picked up a critical third down in the fourth quarter.
“People forgot I can run,” Smith said with a smile after the game.
Who knows if Smith can keep this up for 17 games. But if he can, those dire predictions about Seattle’s season could look like pretty cold takes by December.
Rashaad Penny showed lots of burst when he had some chances to get into the open field with 60 yards on 12 carries. He did fumble once, with the Seahawks fortunately recovering on a night that a lot of bounces went Seattle’s way.
But overall, it was a solid effort from Penny, who also caught three passes for seven yards on plays when Smith was checking down. Travis Homer played some as a third-down back.
Smith spread the ball around with eight players making catches and all but one getting two or more. And the drops that were an issue in the preseason weren’t this time.
The one bad play was DK Metcalf’s third-quarter fumble that came on the kind of play he has to eliminate. Metcalf had been jawing with Denver defenders and on his fumble appeared to be trying harder than needed to keep the play alive, leading to an opportunity to strip the ball.
This was the kind of tight-end production the Seahawks have long sought as Dissly and Parkinson each had touchdowns. The Seahawks tight ends had eight receptions for 106 yards. Noah Fant also chipped in three for 16 yards.
The rookie tackles struggled at times, and the running game wasn’t really there the way the Seahawks hope it will be throughout the season — 62 yards on 13 carries for the running backs. But in general, this was a solid start for the rebuilt OL.
To note the negative, rookie right tackle Abraham Lucas was called for a hold in the third quarter that negated a first-down run by Penny.
And Charles Cross was beaten for two sacks in the fourth quarter by Bradley Chubb, one resulting in a Smith fumble. Cross grabbed the ball in midair to avoid disaster.
But there were a lot of plays to like, too.
There were brief periods early when Denver’s running game appeared set to take control and times when Wilson had lots of time to throw.
But when it counted, the DL came up as big as any in recent Seahawks history as this was one of the gutsier efforts by a Seahawks defensive line in years led by newcomers Uchenna Nwosu and Shelby Harris, who each seemed to have one big play after another.
Nwosu had seven tackles, two QB hits and a forced fumble, and Harris had three tackles and a QB hit; Darrell Taylor also had two QB hits.
And the line led a huge charge up front on the key goal-line plays that helped turn the game led by Al Woods, who again perfectly played his role as the run-stuffing tackle inside.
Jordyn Brooks led the way with 12 tackles, and Cody Barton, in the first start of his career for noninjury reasons, added 10, with two for a loss. He had a sack of Wilson in the second quarter and also some good coverage with the key tackle for a four-yard loss on a Javonte Williams pass reception on the final possession that helped force the field-goal attempt. On this night, the Seahawks linebackers showed that much of the preseason angst about not having Bobby Wagner around might have been much ado about nothing.
The rookies in the secondary predictably took some lumps.
Coby Bryant, in for a series as the nickel back for Justin Coleman, was beaten for a 67-yard TD pass from Wilson to Jerry Jeudy. And Tariq Woolen had two pass-interference penalties that put Denver on the doorstep of touchdowns. But Woolen also had lots of tight coverage, and Carroll seemed to question the first interference call.
The tackling in the back end — an issue throughout the preseason — reared its head at times, particularly on the 67-yard TD by Jeudy.
But there were lots of big plays, such as cornerback Michael Jackson’s two fumble recoveries, that more than made up for it.
The Seahawks had to play the second half without Jamal Adams, hurt early in the second quarter. And given Carroll’s comment later, they might have to play without him for quite a while.
This was a good effort overall with Quandre Diggs making a huge play on the fourth down at the goal line and six tackles as well as a forced fumble.
A solid day here as Jason Myers made his one field goal, and the coverage was solid with Tanner Muse kicking it off with a hard hit on the first kickoff.
Carson Tinker, a practice-squad elevation, handled the long snapping with Tyler Ott injured and appeared to do so well.