The Broncos responded to their first deficit since early in the second quarter by piecing together what may have been their most substantial drive of the game. Aided by a 25-yard pass to Courtland Sutton, a 22-yard pass to Jake Butt and a roughing-the-passer penalty, Case Keenum and the Broncos moved the ball to the Seattle 4-yard line. That's when Keenum rolled to his right and threw a strike to Demaryius Thomas, who somehow got both feet down in the end zone for the go-ahead touchdown. Denver's defense held on the Seahawks' ensuing drives — including a last-gasp Seattle possession that ended with an Adam Jones interception as time expired — and the Broncos were able to start their season with a win.
For the third time in his career, outside linebacker Von Miller recorded two or more sacks and forced two or more fumbles. The last time he accomplished that feat? Super Bowl 50. Only Cameron Wake has compiled more games with those numbers. Miller added another sack and a fumble recovery to that line for good measure. On the rare occasion Miller wasn't in Russell Wilson's face, he drew enough attention to help his teammates get free.
On offense, Emmanuel Sanders hauled in 10 passes for 135 yards and a touchdown. Sanders hadn't totaled that many yards since a Week 9 game last season against New England. The nine-year veteran's best play of the afternoon came on a 43-yard catch-and-run touchdown that Sanders punctuated with a front flip.
The Seahawks kept the game close until the end, but they couldn't overcome their third-down woes. The Wilson-led offense started 0-for-6 on third down, as the Broncos' defense consistently found ways to get off the field. Denver's defensive third-down success prevented Seattle from sustaining the necessary drives to challenge the Broncos late. The Broncos held Seattle without a conversion in a variety of ways. Defensive end Adam Gotsis batted down a Wilson pass at the line of scrimmage, while Miller strip sacked Wilson to end another promising drive. And perhaps no third-down stop was bigger than Chris Harris Jr.'s sack of Wilson with just under four minutes to play and the Broncos clinging to a three-point lead. In an otherwise close game, those plays were enough to swing the game in Denver's favor.
Thomas' late touchdown may have meant more to the Broncos in their winning effort, but it didn't include a front flip like Sanders' first-half score.
Justin Simmons also gets a nod for his leaping interception of Wilson in the third quarter.