By TIM BOOTH AP Sports Writer
SEATTLE — Geno Smith threw two first-half touchdown passes, Denver fumbled twice at the 1-yard line in the second half, and the Seahawks beat the Broncos, 17-16, on Monday night in Russell Wilson’s return to Seattle.
Brandon McManus missed a 64-yard field-goal attempt with 20 seconds left and the Seahawks escaped with another wild victory involving Wilson at quarterback.
Except this time Wilson was the opponent and there will be plenty of questions about Denver coach Nathaniel Hackett’s late-game clock management and decisions in his first game.
Denver faced fourth-and-5 at the Seattle 46-yard line and had three timeouts left, but the Broncos ran significant time off the clock before Hackett called timeout and decided to have McManus try the long field goal. The kick missed and instead of Wilson leading the 36th career fourth-quarter or overtime comeback of his career, the Seahawks celebrated to chants of “Geno! Geno!”
“I was surprised that they took Russ out there,” Seattle coach Pete Carroll said.
Smith and the Seahawks did very little offensively in the second half but their first half was good enough. Smith threw a touchdown pass of 38 yards to Will Dissly on the first possession of the season and hit Colby Parkinson for a 25-yard touchdown in the second quarter.
Smith finished 23 of 28 for 195 yards, but he was 17 of 18 for 164 yards in the first half.
“For him to go out there and get a win like that shows the confidence we have in him,” Seattle wide receiver DK Metcalf said.
Wilson was 29 of 42 for 340 yards and a touchdown. But Denver couldn’t overcome its red-zone inefficiency with both Melvin Gordon III and Javonte Williams fumbling on plays snapped at the Seattle 1-yard line.
The Seahawks moved into first place in the NFC West after Arizona, San Francisco and the Rams all lost their openers.
Wilson spent the first 10 seasons of his career in Seattle. He went from being a disputed third-round pick to a franchise cornerstone that helped Seattle to its only Super Bowl title.
But his departure this past offseason in a trade to Denver was a messy conclusion to a mostly sparkling career with the Seahawks.
And Seattle fans were ready to let Wilson find out just what it was like to be an opposing quarterback at the stadium where he enjoyed so many triumphs.
“Just going out there and seeing him in a Broncos jersey was shocking to me,” Metcalf said.
Wilson was greeted with lustful, guttural boos every time he stepped on the field from a crowd notorious for making noise. They started in pregame warmups and didn’t decrease in volume throughout the victory.
Some signs in the stadium compared Wilson to Alex Rodriguez, who infamously left for a massive contract in Texas early in his baseball career. Others switched around the words from a catchphrase during his time in Seattle, urging the Seahawks, “Let’s Cook Russ.”
Wilson and the Broncos had plenty of chances to silence the crowd.
Denver ran eight plays inside the Seattle 12 in the third quarter and came away with zero points after the two fumbles.
The Broncos had three more plays inside the Seattle 10 midway through the fourth quarter and still couldn’t find the end zone. Denver reached the 3-yard-line but its third false start of the game moved Wilson back to the 8 and he was incomplete on his next two throws. McManus’ 26-yard field goal with 6:13 left pulled the Broncos within 17-16.
Seattle safety Jamal Adams suffered what appeared to be a significant left knee injury in the first quarter. Adams limped off the field after nearly sacking Wilson and eventually was driven away on a cart. He did not return.
Denver lost right guard Quinn Meinerz to a hamstring injury in the first half and cornerback K’Waun Williams to a hand injury in the fourth quarter.
The Broncos host Houston on Sunday.
The Seahawks play at San Francisco on Sunday.
More to come on this story.