SEATTLE — Russell Wilson was traded to the Denver Broncos in the off-season by the only team he had known for the previous decade, having grown disillusioned with his former team’s lack of protection for him, unwillingness to give him say in personnel decisions and widening chasm from its championship days.
In Denver, he regained a measure of control and a defensively sound team thought to be one quarterback away from contending.
Boos rained down on Wilson as he took the field against the Seattle Seahawks on Monday night and he very nearly silenced them. Playing from behind in the third quarter, Wilson led the Broncos on back-to-back drives into the red zone where his running backs fumbled on goal-line stands.
The heralded Denver defense was repeatedly penalized, allowing the Seahawks to extend drives.
Wilson’s final drive ended when Broncos kicker Brandon McManus missed a 64-yard field goal attempt with 20 seconds on the clock, and the Seahawks held on to win, 17-16.
Though Wilson repeatedly connected with his new receivers, Jerry Jeudy and Courtland Sutton, for big gains and threw for 340 yards and one touchdown, he could not will the Broncos to a victory that surely would have carried personal significance.
The boos for Wilson started the moment he and his new team took the field, and they continued throughout. He was sacked twice and hit numerous times, much to the delight of the sellout crowd at Lumen Field. Fans held signs that said “Show Russ the Boom,” a reference to Seattle’s “Legion of Boom” defense, and “12 > 3,” a nod to the Seahawks’ nickname for their fans — as in the 12th player — and Wilson’s No. 3 jersey.
By game’s end, the crowd of 68,695 chanted “Ge-no, Ge-no,” to celebrate Wilson’s replacement, who began the game by completing 17 of his first 18 passes, one of which found tight end Will Dissly alone for a 38-yard score on the Seahawks’ first offensive possession.
Smith finished with 195 yards and two touchdowns on 23 of 28 passing.
The Seahawks’ defense ultimately won, recovering fumbles by Melvin Gordon and Javonte Williams on goal-line stands to help the Seahawks maintain a 17-13 lead.
The Seahawks are not expected to compete for the playoffs in the N.F.C. as they overhaul the rest of their roster beyond quarterback. But by beating Wilson, Seattle took its first step toward a new era.