The Seahawks shocked everyone but themselves on Monday Night Football at Lumen Field, defeating the Broncos 17-16. It was a huge day for the Seahawks defense, coming up with several key stops against the Broncos and their new quarterback, Russell Wilson, to help the Seahawks secure a win to open the 2022 season.
The Seahawks defense came to play, holding the Denver Broncos to just 16 points in Monday's opener. But it was how they did it, with multiple goal-line stops - two resulting in turnovers – that really stood out.
Seahawks safety and captain Quandre Diggs and linebacker Uchenna Nwosu each forced a fumble on the goal line, with cornerback Michael Jackson scooping up both recoveries. Nwosu also contributed one of the team's two sacks in the evening, with linebacker Cody Barton recording the other. Former Broncos defensive tackle Shelby Harris was a force on the inside in his first matchup against his former team, recording three tackles, one for loss. Harris discussed facing his former team with NFL insider James Palmer on the field after the game.
"It's a 1-0 statement," said Harris. "To come out here, everybody doubted us, everyone made this about Russ, we made this about the Seattle Seahawks. Come out here, play good ball for four quarters, come out with the W. It's always gonna be us."
On the goal-line stops, Harris told Palmer, "The red-zone stops were huge, but that's also why God creates a defensive line. We go out there, we get penetration, and we make plays. Outside and inside, it's a great combo. This is what we hang our heads on. You can get as many yards as you need, but you're not going to get in and we showed that today."
For Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, nothing is more exciting than those moments on the goal line where so much can change with one play.
"There is nothing more intense in sports than that moment right there," said Carroll. "It's just the greatest challenge and the greatest celebration moments and opportunities. It's all just grit and grind and guts and all that. We didn't do it once. We did it again. There were a few plays in there we had to make great tackles and great hits for every inch that was counting down there. Clint and his guys on the defensive staff, I know they're so fired up to see those guys come through like that. They did a great job tonight."
Former defensive line coach Clint Hurtt moved up to defensive coordinator this summer, and his defense shined at all three levels. The Seahawks defense held the Broncos to under 50 percent of third-down conversions, as well as stopping running back Melvin Gordon on Denver's only fourth-down attempt.
Seahawks safety Josh Jones talked about the defense's performance after his first game for Seattle since being re-signed in May.
"It was good," said Jones. "The defense, we hung in there and we fought hard. Obviously, nobody believed in us coming into this except for the guys in the locker room. We've been working all camp and we've been fighting all camp and it showed out there."
In March, the Seahawks acquired linebacker Uchenna Nwosu via free agency to bolster the pass rush. In his debut Monday, Nwosu recorded his first sack of 2022, along with a forced fumble on Broncos running back Javonte Williams, two quarterback hits, seven tackles and a pass defensed. Nwosu discussed the defensive mindset on the goal-line stances.
"Give us a blade of grass, we're going to protect it, and that was our mindset," said Nwosu. "Going down there, and anytime you're backed up, you're in the red zone, you've got to nut up. That's where big boys put on their big shoulder pads, and they go to work. And that's what we did today. Our defense was able to force two turnovers down there and recover the ball, so that's huge. That's what we're going to keep emphasizing throughout practice and throughout the season and we're going to keep doing it."
Nwosu also discussed whether or not Monday's performance was a statement game for the Seahawks.
"Absolutely," said Nwosu. "We don't listen to the outside noise. We go in there and play Seahawks football. You guys know what that is. There's a standard that comes with this. Anytime we step on that field and strap up that helmet, in front of the 12s, we try to do our part and play Seahawks Defense."
The Seahawks host the Broncos for Monday Night Football at Lumen Field on September 12, 2022. Game action photos are presented by Washington's Lottery.