Top 5 reasons the Broncos failed in season opener vs. Seahawks

Denver Broncos, Nathaniel Hackett (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)
Denver Broncos, Nathaniel Hackett (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images) /
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The Denver Broncos lost a close game to the Seattle Seahawks on Monday Night Football in a game that will be remembered for a wide variety of reasons. Russell Wilson made his return to Seattle to a chorus of boos from the crowd, and the Broncos came out in this game looking extremely sloppy. Unfortunately, as the night progressed, that would not improve.

The Broncos lost to the Seahawks 17-16 despite a second-half resurgence from the Denver defense after a pretty awful-looking first half. The game ended on a bizarre 64-yard field goal attempt from Brandon McManus. More on that in a bit. The Broncos had a wide variety of chances to put this game well out of reach but they simply couldn’t execute.

So why did they fail in this game? There’s not really just one reason that will tell the full story. That, in itself, is quite unfortunate. We need to unpack a variety of reasons why this game went poorly for the Denver Broncos and why it ended with Seahawks defensive lineman Shelby Harris signing off with a “Let’s Ride.”

Denver Broncos
Denver Broncos, Nathaniel Hackett (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images) /

Broncos HC Nathaniel Hackett makes questionable decisions in final moments

This is one that certainly has some layers to it. Let’s start with the obvious, though.

At the end of the game, the Denver Broncos had the ball with plenty of time left on the clock. The offense simply had to get the ball in reasonable field goal range for Brandon McManus, something that shouldn’t have been overly difficult for them to do considering the Broncos punted just one time on the entire evening and had moved the ball for 433 yards of offense including almost seven yards per play.

Russell Wilson averaged 8.1 yards per completion. Javonte Williams averaged 6.1 yards per carry. In the end-of-game scenario, the Broncos were trying to bleed the clock out and not give the Seahawks an opportunity to respond. That’s not the problem, though. The problem is, on a 4th-and-6 from the 47, Nathaniel Hackett decided to send out the field goal unit instead of putting the ball in his $296 million quarterback’s hand.

There have been 25 field goals made from 60-plus yards in the Super Bowl era. The odds of your kicker making one, historically, are below low. The odds of Russell Wilson completing a pass for six or seven yards? Well, he did it on average throughout the game. It was a horrendous decision by Hackett to bleed the clock out with over a minute to play on fourth down and not keep his timeouts, go for it on fourth, and try to get the ball back from Seattle again.

Unfortunately for Hackett, his feelings here betrayed him horribly. As a rookie head coach in the NFL, we can expect Hackett to be a little imperfect, but this was bordering on football 101. You’ve got a superstar quarterback, and you’re going to kick from 64 while letting the clock bleed out? It just makes no sense. How can you justify the odds of a 64-yard field goal over the odds of Wilson converting a 4th-and-6?

But again, there are layers to this game from Hackett.