DENVER—For all the issues that slowed the Seahawks' progress Sunday, their season opener at Denver came down to the final possession.
The Seahawks were outgained by the Broncos by 164 yards in an eventual 27-24 loss, but the defense came up with three interceptions, two of which were converted to touchdowns, helping keep Seattle in it; the offense was just 2 for 12 on third down, but also came up with a number of big plays; the defense at times showed its newness, giving up big chunks of yardage, but at times the front-seven looked stout and the secondary benefited from big plays by Earl Thomas and Bradley McDougald.
In other words, there were a lot of encouraging signs in Seattle's season opener, but unfortunately for the Seahawks, there were a few too many negatives that contributed to a season-opening loss.
"This is unfortunate today that we didn't find a way to get this win," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. "It has been really hard for people to beat these guys here over years in the opener, and I knew that going in, and saw us with a chance way late in the game with a chance to win. Even despite the things that had occurred early that kept us from being in better command of it. So it's frustrating to not get that from them. They did a good job to finish out the game. They finished the game moving the ball and running the clock and all of that, so you've got to hand it to them, the Broncos did a nice job."
On offense, the Seahawks didn't get the running game going like they had hoped, but they did get a bunch of big plays in the passing game, including a 51-yard touchdown pass from Russell Wilson to Tyler Lockett, and a 66-yard catch and physical run by rookie tight end Will Dissly. But again, third-down woes, often caused by issues on earlier downs, kept the offense from a truly big game.
"Some similar things occurred in this game that you heard the themes before, third downs were lousy and it was because we were third-and-nine, six times or whatever it was. And we didn't run the ball as well as we wanted to and we wound up getting sacked a bunch of times, those are just similar issues and disappointing on the offensive side."
On the other side of the ball, Carroll saw some good play, but also the issues that can occur with a lot of new starters on the field, including rookies Shaquem Griffin and Tre Flowers.
"Defensively, we played in spurts really well and we gave some easy plays to them," Carroll said. "They threw a flat route for a 30-yard touchdown pass and they threw a crossing route for 40-yard touchdown pass. Those are really easy plays to not let happen, and those were big plays in this game. There was a lot of really good stuff played at the line of scrimmage at times, and then we gave up some running plays late. It's not a very clean game for us, but after all of that, we felt like we could've won that game and we really had a great chance to do that. It's really frustrating, I can see the newness of us—we got in trouble on some stuff on defense, we made some mistakes, things that are really easily cleaned up, but they happened and they were problems for us. We've got a lot work to do, but we've got a lot of fight and we competed like crazy and we ended up making plays, got the turnovers that we wanted to see, and had a chance to tilt that thing in the other direction if we could've taken advantage of all of that."
Wilson, who threw three touchdowns and was intercepted twice—the second of which was on a desperation heave on the final play of the game—saw it as a positive that the offense was able to score three touchdowns and make some big plays in a game that nobody felt was close to being their best performance.
"We were making plays, even not being at our best, so that's the most exciting thing. That's the thing you look forward to," Wilson said, noting the offense is "up to the challenge" of bouncing back well from this loss. "This was never going to be easy. If this was easy, everybody would be doing it. For us, we're looking forward to the challenge of getting better and continuing to improve and continuing to do what we do best."
McDougald, who had a pair of interceptions, agreed with Wilson, saying, "We're very close. I feel it. In the game, you could feel it coming tougher. It's one play here, one play there."
Added center Justin Britt, "We've just got to get back to work. There's a lot of positives to grow from and learn from. We've just got to keep at it. This will not define us. We're a really good team and there's a lot of really good things that are going happen in the future."
And for fans looking for a silver lining to the loss, Wilson said in a way the game reminded him of the start of his rookie year, an eventual playoff season that started with a close loss in Arizona.
"That was a challenging, tough season, but we ended up 11-5," he said. "There's a lot more season left. The great thing is these young guys are getting in there and playing, and it's going to be a great thing for us down the road, and I'm really looking forward to it."
Game action photos from the Seahawks' 2018 season opener against the Denver Broncos.