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Seahawks fall 27-24 to Broncos in season opener

Russell Wilson and the Seahawks' offense came up short in the fourth quarter. (AP)

The Seattle Seahawks had a chance in the fourth quarter of their season opener against the Denver Broncos, but a disputed call will loom large in their 27-24 loss.

Baldwin injured | O’Neil column3 Takeaways | 710 reaction | Photos

A 4-yard Demaryius Thomas touchdown catch from Broncos quarterback Case Keenum was the final score of the game, and it was a play that was initially called incomplete for Denver. The call was changed on the field to a touchdown, which was important because it’s a lot harder for a call to be overturned than confirmed on a replay challenge. With a lack of conclusive evidence in either direction, the touchdown stood up, and the Broncos were able to hold off the Seahawks for the final 11-plus minutes of the game.

Here’s a quarter-by-quarter look at the entire game.

First quarter

Seahawks 7, Broncos 7

Welcome to the … Will Dissly Show?

The rookie tight end and former Washington Husky made quite the first impression, both hauling in the first touchdown of the Seahawks’ season and adding an incredible 66-yard reception – complete with multiple broken tackles – before getting knocked out of bounds at the 5 as the first quarter ended.

Dissly’s TD was set by a big play on defense by – who else? – Earl Thomas. After missing the entire Seahawks offseason program, training camp and preseason due to a holdout, Thomas looked to be in midseason form at free safety in his first game since last season’s Pro Bowl. He picked off Broncos quarterback Case Keenum at the Denver 40 on Seattle’s second defensive series of the day, returning it 25 yards to the 15.

That was followed up quickly by something that was looked plenty familiar – Russell Wilson connecting with No. 88 for a red zone score. The difference is that No. 88 this year is Dissly, not Jimmy Graham, who has taken his talents to Green Bay.

The Broncos had an answer, needing all of seven plays to go 75 yards and tie things up at 7-all. A 29-yard pass from Keenum to running back Phillip Lindsay capped the scoring drive.

A nice rush by running back Chris Carson was the precursor to Dissly’s other big play. Carson hurdled a defender on his way to a 24-yard gain, and the next play was Dissly’s long catch-and-run.

An early injury scare for the Seahawks came in the form of a knee injury to Doug Baldwin. The Pro Bowl wide receiver didn’t play at all in the preseason with a left knee issue, but it was right knee that prevented him from even making his way off the field at the end of a play late in the first quarter. Despite being deemed questionable to return, Baldwin was back on the field early in the second quarter.

SEA – Will Dissly 15 pass from Russell Wilson (Sebastian Janikowski kick), 9:04
DEN – Phillip Lindsay 29 pass from Case Keenum (Brandon McManus kick), 6:10


Second quarter

Broncos 17, Seahawks 10

Russell Wilson became more closely acquainted with All-Pro Broncos linebacker Von Miller than anybody associated with the Seahawks would want, as Miller twice took him down for sacks on the same drive late in the second quarter.

Earlier in the frame, Denver moved into the lead as its passing game took advantage of a young Seahawks secondary again for a second long touchdown pass. Emmanuel Sanders caught a pass from Keenum on a crossing route, kept cutting across to the sideline and took off from there for a 43-yard score to make it 14-10.

The Seahawks squandered a chance at a touchdown early in the second, settling for a 35-yard Sebastian Janikowski field goal after Dissly’s 66-yard reception put them at the 5 at the end of the first quarter. Seattle missed out on another three points when Janikowski’s 46-yard attempt was no good just inside the 2-minute warning.

Denver kicker Brandon McManus connected from 51 yards for a field goal with 5:25 remaining to push the Broncos’ lead to 17-10.

At least the score is manageable and Dissly was well on his way to a career day – on the first day of his career, no less. His third reception of the game, a 24-yarder, put him at 105 total yards in the passing, setting a franchise record for receiving yards in a Seahawks debut.

SEA – Janikowski 35 FG, 13:59
DEN – Emmanuel Sanders 43 pass from Keenum (McManus kick), 10:29
DEN – McManus 51 FG, 5:25

Third quarter

Broncos 20, Seahawks 17

Brandon Marshall still has something left in the tank. The 34-year-old wide receiver scored a 20-yard touchdown in his return to the stadium he called home for his first four seasons (and first two Pro Bowl selections). After Russell Wilson bought some time, Marshall headed for the end zone, and Wilson found him to tie the game at 17 with 6:02 left in the third quarter.

That touchdown came after the Seahawks’ secondary, which had its share of problems in the first half, bailed out the offense. Bradley McDougald came up with his second (and Seattle’s third) interception of the day, coming on the very next play after Seattle running back Chris Carson lost a fumble to the Broncos.

Denver re-took the lead with 2:01 left on a 53-yard McManus field goal, a result of Wilson being picked off four plays earlier at the Seattle 35 by Denver safety Justin Simmons.

Rookie punter Michael Dickson made his first real impact of the regular season. One of the big stories of the Seahawks’ preseason, Dickson one-upped himself by taking advantage of the altitude in Denver to punt 69 yards from deep in Seattle territory as the ball hit out of bounds at the Broncos’ 5.

On defense, Frank Clark made the first sack of the season for the Seahawks, one Seattle hopes no doubt is just the first of many for the fourth-year defensive end after the departures of Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett. The sack sent the Broncos back 5 yards on a third down, forcing a much-needed punt.

The third quarter came with bad news on the injury front for the Seahawks, though. Baldwin, who hurt his right knee in the first quarter but returned in the second, was ruled out for the rest of the game in the third for the same injury.

SEA – Brandon Marshall 20 pass from Wilson (Janikowski kick), 6:02
– McManus 53 FG, 2:01

Fourth quarter

Broncos 27, Seahawks 24

Russell Wilson has always performed well in the fourth quarter, so it made plenty of sense that he connected on a 51-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Lockett almost as soon as the final frame started to put Seattle back in the lead.

Denver got some help from the NFL rulebook, however, regaining the lead on a 4-yard pass from Keenum to Demaryius Thomas that initially was ruled incomplete, then ruled a touchdown, then confirmed by a replay challenge because there wasn’t enough evidence to overturn it. Had the call remained incomplete on the field and Denver challenged, it’s very likely the lack of conclusive evidence would have kept it incomplete, too.

That put the Seahawks’ backs against the wall, and Seattle managed just one first down over its next two series, both of which ended with punts, and Wilson threw an interception on the final play of the game.

SEA – Tyler Lockett 51 pass from Wilson (Janikowski kick), 14:46
Demaryius Thomas 4 pass from Keenum (McManus kick), 11:11