The first time Paxton Lynch dropped back to pass, he bounced a pass at the feet of rookie receiver Gary Jennings.
For the rest of his night, however, Lynch was excellent in his first preseason game with the Seahawks, helping lead a second-half comeback as the Seahawks knocked off Denver 22-14 Thursday night at CenturyLink Field.
Lynch, who is competing with Geno Smith for the backup job behind Russell Wilson, played the entire second half after Smith played the first half, and led a pair of touchdown drives while completing 11 of 15 passes for 109 yards and a touchdown, giving him a 115.7 passer rating. Lynch also rushed for 38 yards on four carries, including a 9-yard touchdown run he capped by spinning off one would-be tackler before powering through another at the goal line.
"I thought Paxton Lynch did a really good job," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. "Paxton handled himself well, good tempo with the game. And he ran the ball really well; he's a big unit running now. You saw him down by the goal line, that's a fantastic run for a quarterback to score down there. But just in general he got out and made some yardage with his legs."
And yes, Lynch's big performance did happen to come against the team that selected him in the first round of the 2016 draft, only to cut him two years later prior to the start of last season. But while folks on Twitter might have jokingly dubbed this the "Paxton Lynch Revenge Game," he was quick to dismiss that he was motivated by facing his former team.
"I know that there was some talk that it was about that, but I love those guys," Lynch said. "I have a lot of love for a lot of guys on that team, they mean a lot to me. I respect them and love them, they're close friends to me, so it had nothing to do with that. It was more to me, I had a lot to prove to myself tonight, and I feel like I went out there and did that."
If Lynch did seem particularly animated for a preseason game, it wasn't about the opponent, but rather the fact that he was back on the field after sitting out the entire 2018 season. After Denver released him prior to the start of the regular season, Lynch got a few workouts with different teams through the season, including Seattle, but didn't end up signing with anyone until the Seahawks signed him to a future contract at the end of the season.
"I just wanted to show myself that all the hard work I'd put in had paid off," Lynch said. "I had a long offseason, basically. While everyone else was playing, I was at home, I wasn't playing, I was watching on TV. I know I was working hard, I was building myself up, believing in myself and trying get back to where I was and trying to figure out how I could do that. I was excited when Seattle gave me the opportunity to come here, and I'm glad they gave me the opportunity to go out there and do what I did tonight."
So yes, this preseason game might have felt a little different than the ones he played with Denver.
"There was a lot that went into this, and definitely having that year off played a big part of that," he said. "But I just wanted to go out there with my guys and win a football game and show those coaches that they can trust me if my number is ever called upon. I feel like I did a good job in that, but it's only the first preseason game and we've still got three more."
Game action photos from the Seattle Seahawks' 2019 preseason opener against the Denver Broncos at CenturyLink Field.