Monday night’s matchup between the Broncos and Seahawks was hyped as the return of Russell Wilson to Seattle. In the end, though, the man at the center of attention was not on the field for the game’s most pivotal play.
That was the result of some questionable clock management and curious decision-making by Denver’s first-year coach, Nathaniel Hackett, who was making his debut with the team after spending the past three seasons as the offensive coordinator for the Packers. Trailing 17–16, the Broncos took over at their own 22-yard line with just over four minutes to play and all three timeouts left. The offense milked away the clock as they approached midfield, yet took too much time off, leaving Wilson with 20 seconds left facing a fourth-and-5 from the Seattle 46-yard line.
Rather than let the offense try to convert, Hackett instead opted to try a 64-yard field goal with Brandon McManus. The kick missed wide left, and Hackett was asked post-game about his decision to take his offense off the field for the final play.
“We weren’t moving the ball that efficiently at that time, we were just getting little chunks and wanted to be sure that we got to guarantee ourselves a chance to be able to win the game,” Hackett said. “I thought [McManus] had enough leg and he missed it to the left but we should’ve never been in that position from the very beginning. If you’re not gonna score in the red zone, if you’re gonna have too many penalties, they’re gonna lose the turnover battle.”
The Broncos fumbled twice on the Seattle 1-yard line and out-gained the Seahawks by 180 yards, so they certainly had ample opportunity to win the game. Denver signed Wilson to a $245 million contract extension prior to the start of the season, making the decision to leave him on the sideline that much more puzzling.
Wilson will have plenty of more chances to be the hero for the Broncos, but his Denver tenure is off to an inauspicious start.
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