The vigorous boos of their former quarterback at the start of the game turned into happy chants for their new quarterback at the end.
And in typical Russell Wilson fashion, the match was only decided in the dying seconds.
But this time, an attempt by Wilson to make a fourth-quarter comeback at Lumen Field — where he had hit 20 earlier in his career — fell through.
Facing a fourth-and-five to their own 46, the Broncos decided to let Brandon McManus go for a 64-yard field goal. The kick sailed just a left and the Seattle crowd, who were treated to an unusual spectacle all night, walked away as happy as they could be with the Seahawks clinging to a 17-16 victory.
Seattle is now 1-0 in the post-Wilson era, with a win that head coach Pete Carroll will no doubt relish as much as any he’s won in his career.
But for as much revelation as Geno Smith was on his first Opening Day start since 2014 — completing his first 13 passes, throwing two first-half touchdowns and not committing a turnover — it’s an effort brave defensive that won this one. .
Three times in the second half, the Seahawks held Denver out of the end zone on drives inside the 10-yard line, twice completely stopping the Broncos and forcing a field goal another time.
Seattle also offered the big plays it needed to force Denver rookie coach Nathaniel Hackett into a move that is sure to be widely questioned – instead of letting Russ Cook down on a fourth down, he went for a really difficult basket.
After stopping Seattle on a three-and-out — with Smith sacked on third down by Bradley Chubb, who beat rookie left tackle Charles Cross — Denver got the ball back at 22 with 4:02 remaining and all three timeouts.
After a 5-yard run by Melvin Gordon III, Jerry Jeudy dropped a pass on second down that would have gotten the first.
On the third and fifth, Wilson escaped the pressure and threw to tight end Albert Okwuegbunam, who fought off a tackle from Quandre Diggs to duck for the first down with 3:03 to go.
Carroll challenged it, but the decision stood.
Two games later, Denver faced another third – this one third and two of 40 on the two-minute warning.
With the crowd at its climax, Wilson calmly hit Javonte Williams on a short pass down the middle from nine yards.
But on the next play, Cody Barton got Williams for a four-yard pass loss and Wilson threw incomplete on second down.
Wilson then hit Williams on the flat and he missed Justin Coleman to win nine.
That set up a fourth-and-5 at the 46. With Denver lined up for the snap, Wilson let the clock down to 20 seconds – the third down play was broken with 1:11 – before calling a timeout .
Seattle called a timeout to let McManus and Denver think about it, and the kick then narrowly missed.
Seattle made two stands on the goal line in the third quarter – each time forcing fumbles – which ultimately transformed the game.
The first came on a fourth-and-a-one when Quandre Diggs led a charge from defenders to stuff Melvin Gordon, who fumbled in a futile attempt to reach the ball over the goal line.
The second came on Denver’s next possession when Javonte Williams lost the ball as he was tackled behind the line on a third-and-a-1, with Uchenna Nwosu credited with the forced fumble.
Seattle then forced a field goal after a Denver drive that hit the three.
And the solid defense came mostly without safety Jamal Adams, who left the game early in the second quarter with a knee injury and did not return.
There had been a lot of pre-game speculation about how Wilson would be received by the Seattle crowd, although there was plenty of Denver orange scattered around Lumen Field.
But the boos — all of which were supposed to come from Seahawks fans — drowned out the cheers at every turn, and perhaps surprisingly so.
Wilson was booed as he entered the field with the rest of the quarterbacks for pre-game warm-ups. Booed when he took the field with the rest of the team before kick-off. And booed when he entered the field for the coin toss as one of Denver’s captains.
It gave Seattle the ball first, and Smith made all four throws in the Seahawks’ first drive, including a 38-yard TD to Dissly when Smith dodged a scramble, rushed to his left, and saw Dissly wide open, flipping the ball over to him. for easy implementation. Dissly spun and ran intact into the end zone for an early 7-0 lead.
It kicked off a scintillating first half for Smith as he completed his first 13 passes — just shy of Warren Moon’s team record 17 consecutive passes in 1998 — executing Seattle’s offense perfectly.
Smith was 17 of 18 for 164 yards and two touchdowns in the first half as Seattle drove inside Denver’s 21 — or scored — on all four drives.
Smith threw TD passes for 38 yards to Dissly and 25 to Colby Parkinson as the Seahawks held the lead for most of the first half.
But Wilson mostly matched Smith pass-for-pass, going 10 of 15 for 206 yards in the first half, including a 67-yard TD to Jeudy that tied the game at 10 late in the second quarter.
Denver beat Seattle 257-219 in the first half
Smith led Seattle to the Denver 7 on Seattle’s second drive. But hoping to deliver an early dagger, Carroll went for it and Smith was stopped just before the first down on a stealth jab.
It was the only practice in the first half that didn’t end in a score for Seattle.
Denver only kicked once in the first half but was twice forced to score on drives that penetrated Seattle’s 20, proving the difference in the score at the half time.
This story will be updated.