Four Downs with Bob Condotta and Adam Jude: Recapping Seahawks’ win over Broncos

What figured going in to be one of the most memorable regular-season games in Seahawks history somehow managed to top even the wildest of expectations for its drama and suspense.

Which means there is plenty still to discuss the day after as we begin our weekly Four Downs review of the game that was, recapping Seattle’s wild 17-16 win over Russell Wilson and the Denver Broncos with beat reporters Bob Condotta and Adam Jude.

1. What did you think of Denver’s decision to settle for a 64-yard field goal at the end?

Jew: A 64-yard field goal at sea level! — was less egregious than the Broncos’ handling of the clock in the final minute. And it’s absolutely fair to hold Wilson accountable for that. Denver rookie coach Nathaniel Hackett will surely get the bulk of the criticism in Denver, but Wilson is a veteran QB who has been in those moments — has thrived in those moments — for years and years. Wilson fancies himself among the all-time greats, but can you imagine Tom Brady butchering the final minute like that? There is a clip of Peyton Manning, doing a simulcast of the game with his brother on ESPN2, motioning repeatedly for a timeout and losing his mind that the Broncos were letting the clock continue to tick down to 20 seconds. By that point, the Broncos limited their options. And you know it had to eat at Wilson that he didn’t get a chance, on fourth down with the game on the line, to win it his way in his return to Seattle. Just a bizarre sequence all the way around.

Condotta: There’s some irony of Wilson somewhat forcing his way out of Seattle — or almost entirely, depending on who you believe — in part so he could play for a coach who would always put the ball in his hands when it matters, instead getting the ball taken out of his hands when it mattered most in his first game with his new team against his former team? There are reasons sports are so compelling because you simply can’t make that stuff up. Two stats help further delineate what a bad decision it was — Brandon McManus is now 2 for 11 on field goals of 58 yards or longer and hasn’t made one beyond 55 outside of the rarefied air of Denver or in a dome since 2016, according to The Athletic. With the Seahawks, Wilson thrived on plays of fourth down and 4-6 yards go to. During his decade in Seattle, Wilson was 22 for 29 on such plays, getting the first down 20 times with a passer rating of 145.7. So yeah, there’s little to defend Hackett’s decision. And Tuesday, Hackett sort of agreed, saying that “looking back at it, we definitely should have gone for it.” He also defended the thought process of letting McManus try it. But, that’s a Denver problem now.

2. Were you surprised at the greeting for Russell Wilson?

Jew: Of course. I expected some boos, but I expected a lot of cheers too. We have a reputation here in Seattle of being nice (maybe too nice, at times), and it’s an earned reputation. We can also be passive-aggressive, sure. But there was nothing passive about the reaction to Russ. There’s no denying Wilson’s greatness, and there’s no denying what he’s meant to Seattle for the past decade. And while he wasn’t greeted with the same level of vitriol Alex Rodriguez received upon his return in 2001, it wasn’t all that far off.

Condotta: I was a little — you could really hear it in the press box when he got booed taking the field for warmups. But I think fans were maybe taking the lead of Pete Carroll, who made it clear last week that a little booing might help the Seahawks win, and maybe also that of all the former players in attendance such as Richard Sherman, Marshawn Lynch and Doug Baldwin .

3. Is the Seahawks’ formula for success sustainable?

Jew: I keep going back to what Pete Carroll said the day the Wilson trade became official in March, when he laid out his vision about the Seahawks needing a “point guard” at quarterback, someone who can involve the rest of the players because “we’ re going to win with defense, we’re going to win with how we play on special teams. We’ll run the football to help the whole thing fit together.” Carroll would argue the Seahawks formula — his formula — has been and can continue to be sustained, independent of the QB. As it pertains to this roster and this season, it is fair to wonder whether Seattle’s defense can maintain what it did Monday night, particularly with the inexperience at cornerback and a significant injury to star safety Jamal Adams. But at the very least, Carroll has a team, and a formula that should make this season more enjoyable than most predicted.

Condotta: The basic formula described above yes, the Seahawks can win within the big picture. Doing so specifically as they did Monday, though, will be hard to replicate. Seattle gained just 253 yards and was outgained by 180 yards, including a staggering 176-34 in the second half. According to Pro Football Reference, Seattle is 12-61-1 when being outgained by 180 yards or more. Somehow, they are 7-9 under Carroll in such games, which speaks to Carroll’s ability to get the Seahawks to win games when they shouldn’t. Obviously, the key Monday night was holding Denver without a TD on four trips inside the 20, and three times in goal-to-go situations. It was fun to watch Monday night, but counting on goal-line stands isn’t a recipe for success.

4. OK, what’s one big overreaction to Monday’s win?

Jew: Geno Smith is the Seahawks’ answer at QB.

I don’t mean to be a buzzkill. That was an awesome, awesome performance from Smith on Monday night, and he deserves all the love he’s getting. Beyond that, he deserves a chance to continue to show he can manage this team week in and week out. Big picture, though, one good game won’t change the Seahawks’ larger plans to draft a young QB early in next year’s draft (and they should do whatever they can to move into the top five, if they have to). The best asset in the NFL remains a good QB on a rookie contract, and finding that QB is still the Seahawks’ best bet for sustained success beyond 2022.

Condotta: The Seahawks have solved all their defensive problems!

OK, no doubt, the main thing is that Seattle’s defense came up big when it had to. And it’s risky to read much into stats of just one game. But Seattle did give up 6.8 yards per play, which ranks 29th in the NFL after Week 1. Even if you take out the 67-yard Wilson-to-Jerry Jeudy TD in which Jeudy beat rookie cornerback Coby Bryant, Denver’s average was 5.8 per play, which would put Seattle at 22nd for the week (and further reinforces why the Broncos should have gone for it). There were some promising signs that the defense will be better this year. But now Seattle also has to face the likelihood that Jamal Adams is out for a long time, if not the season. There’s still some proving to be done.

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