Paxton Lynch shines, Seahawks beat Broncos 22-14 in preseason opener
In one night, Seahawks quarterback Paxton Lynch was able to take care of two pieces of business in Seattle’s preseason opener.
First, he put together a strong showing to lead the Seahawks to a 22-14 win and help his chances to beat Geno Smith for the team’s backup QB job. Second, he did all that against his former team, the Denver Broncos, meaning the front office that cut him loose had to watch the whole thing.
Lynch, a 2016 first-round pick by the Broncos who struggled as Denver’s starter and was released last September, gave the Seahawks’ offense an immediate boost when he entered the game after halftime. He completed 8 of 10 passes, including a 6-yard touchdown to Jazz Feguson, for 95 yards in the third quarter alone, helping Seattle jump out to a 15-6 lead after entering the frame trailing 6-3. He finished the game 11 for 15 for 109 yards and a 115.7 rating, plus 38 yards and a score on the ground.
Here’s a quarter-by-quarter breakdown from Seattle’s preseason victory.
Broncos 3, Seahawks 0
There were a number of highlights from a very young-looking Seahawks squad in their opening quarter of the preseason.
• The first two plays of the game, Denver’s kickoff return and then a 1-yard run by Phillip Lindsay, were ended by tackles from Seattle’s twin combo of linebacker Shaquem and cornerback Shaquill Griffin.
• Second-year running back Rashaad Penny took a short pass from Geno Smith and turned it into a 27-yard gain.
• DK Metcalf, the impressive rookie receiver who everybody has their eyes on, caught his first two targets.
• The defensive line stood up strong to keep Denver out of the end zone on a long opening drive.
• Rookie linebacker Cody Barton was in on three tackles on Seattle’s first defensive series.
• Marquise Blair made a statement with his first tackle in the NFL.
Despite all those reasons for Seahawks fans to pump their fists, the scoreboard did not reflect them. The Broncos settled for a field goal on their first possession, and Pro Bowl kicker Jason Myers, who rejoined the Seahawks on a multi-year deal in the offseason, pushed a 56-yard field goal attempt just wide right to keep Seattle scoreless.
DEN – Brandon McManus 25 FG (3-0 DEN, 8:20)
Broncos 6, Seahawks 3
The Seahawks’ biggest story of the second quarter wasn’t a good one, nor was it one the Hawks haven’t heard before. Tackle/tight end George Fant was down for a while after a play and may have suffered a leg injury. Fant, who missed all of 2017 after he tore his ACL in the second game of the preseason, was able to walk off the field with a little bit of help, and after spending time in the tent on Seattle’s sideline he went to the locker room with no shoe on his right foot. The Seahawks can ill afford losing the depth Fant gives them on their offensive line, not to mention the versatility he provides by playing tight end a handful of times each game.
As for positive moments for Seattle, rookie wide receiver John Ursua, the University of Hawaii standout that the Seahawks traded back into the final round of the NFL Draft to take, showed why he draws so many comparisons to retired WR Doug Baldwin. Ursua made an athletic play on a 23-yard reception, including an impressive shifty move as he came down with the ball to get some extra yardage on a play that helped set up Seattle’s first score.
The game continued to be dominated by defense and penalties, however, and Denver pushed its lead to 6-0 on a second 25-yard Brandon McManus field goal.
Seattle cut that lead in half and got on the board for the first time in the game with 40 seconds before the half on a 55-yard field goal by Myers, who showed off the big leg that got him to the Pro Bowl last year as a member of the New York Jets.
QB report: Geno Smith played the entire half at quarterback for the Seahawks, completing 3 of 9 attempts for 58 yards and no turnovers. He was sacked twice and finished the half with a 56.7 rating.
DEN – McManus 25 FG (6-0 DEN, 6:53)
SEA – Jason Myers 55 FG (6-3 DEN, :40)
Seahawks 15, Broncos 6
Jazz Ferguson is making the case to be the next breakout Seahawks wide receiver signed as an undrafted free agent. He took a big step towards getting the chase to prove if he can do that by bringing down a 6-yard touchdown pass from Paxton Lynch in the front corner of the end zone for the first touchdown of the game, giving Seattle a 13-6 lead. If that isn’t enough, Ferguson had an earlier catch for 25 yards and a later reception of 22 yards, as well.
While Ferguson was a new name who turned some heads, there was an old one who also put some points on the board for Seattle. Defensive back DeShawn Shead blitzed out of a safety spot and took down Denver quarterback Drew Lock in the end zone for a nine-yard sack and safety.
Myers also connected on his second field goal of the day early in the quarter, this time from 43 yards out.
Lynch had a nice showing in his first quarter of action, completing 8 of 10 passes for 95 yards and a touchdown plus rushing for 29 yards on three carries against his former team. He finished the quarter with a 139.6 rating.
Injury note: Running back Bo Scarbrough, who was leading the Seahawks with 32 yards on seven rushes, came out of the game with a hand injury.
SEA – Myers 43 FG, 10:00 (6-6)
SEA – Jazz Ferguson 6 pass from Paxton Lynch, 3:48 (Myers kick, 13-6 SEA)
SEA – Drew Lock sacked 9 by DeShawn Shead for safety, 1:53 (15-6 SEA)
Seahawks 22, Broncos 14
Lynch capped off a seven-play, 69-yard drive with a 9-yard touchdown run that pretty much put the score out of reach for the Broncos.
Seahawks cornerback Jamar Taylor added a defensive highlight by intercepting Lock with 2:06 to go.
The most notable thing to happen in the final frame was a penalty on rookie Seahawks safety Marquise Blair, who delivered a nasty shoulder-first hit on a Broncos incompletion. Blair, who was known for his hard-hitting style at Utah, was flagged for unnecessary roughness for hitting a defenseless receiver. That also gave everybody a chance to see a new NFL rule in action as the officiating crew had to take a closer look to determine if the penalty was worthy of an ejection. Luckily for Blair it was not and can be chalked up to a learning experience.
SEA – Paxton Lynch 9 run, 13:03 (Myers kick, 22-6 SEA)
DEN – Devonte Jackson 4 pass from Drew Lock, 3:14 (Juwann Winfree pass from Lock, 22-14 SEA)