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Hot Topics: Day after loss in Seattle, HC Nathaniel Hackett says Broncos should've gone for late fourth-down attempt

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*ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — *A day after the Broncos were unable to connect on a last-minute 64-yard field-goal attempt to beat the Seahawks, Head Coach Nathaniel Hackett said the Broncos should have kept the ball in Russell Wilson's hands.

Facing a fourth-and-5 from the Seattle 46-yard line with just over a minute to play, the Broncos let the clock run down to 20 seconds before calling a timeout and sending Brandon McManus on to attempt the kick.

Prior to the attempt, Denver lost four yards on first down from its own 49-yard line and then picked up nine yards on third-and-14 to set up the fourth-down play.

"Looking back at it, we definitely should've gone for it," Hackett said. "Just one of those things, you look back at it and you say, 'Of course we should go for it, we missed the field goal.' But in that situation, we had a plan. We had a plan. We knew that [the] 46[-yard line] was the mark. We were third-and-15, third-and-13. I'm more upset about that play before it to lose yards. … Getting that there would definitely been better to be able to call that same play and get extra yards. He dumps it out to Javonte, Javonte makes a move, goes a lot further than I think we had anticipated. We were expecting to go for it on fourth down and then you hit the mark, the mark we had all set before we started. We said 46-yard line was where we wanted to be and we got there, so we had to make a decision. We wanted to give it to Brandon and we did. It didn't work, it sucks. But that's part of it."

Hackett said the Broncos set the required yard line based on McManus' pregame warmup, week of practice and how he felt ahead of the drive. Hackett noted the Broncos would have kept the offense on the field if the ball was spotted even a yard farther from the gaol line.

"When we looked at it, it's about listening to the players, finding out where they're at, what they can do," Hackett said. "That was something we all agreed on, and the fact that it was fourth down and that was our one chance to decide that, that's why we did that."

Hackett said he would not change the other decisions on the drive, which included running some time off the clock after getting a first down midfield and working the clock down to 20 seconds ahead of the attempt.

"I think when we went into that point there, we wanted to make sure we left no time for them," Hackett said. "We had plenty of timeouts if we did need to utilize those. Again, I think I was upset that we had lost yards on that screen that we were throwing to Javonte. Would've liked to gain some yards or even have an incomplete [pass] so you don't lose even more yards on that next play."

Hackett said Wilson knew right away the team would attempt the field goal on fourth down. Wilson stayed on the field to try to get the Seahawks to jump offside before he called timeout with one second left on the play clock. Then, McManus trotted onto the field for his attempt.

Earlier in the game, the Broncos executed a similar situation to perfection. After getting the ball back with 2:24 to play in the first half, Denver moved the ball to the Seattle 22-yard line and made a 40-yard field goal at the horn to cut the lead to 17-13.

At the end of the game, though, the Broncos didn't find the same success. Hackett shouldered the blame for the decision, though he noted the game wasn't decided by that one moment.

"In the end, it lies on me," Hackett said. "I made that decision. That was our plan. That's what we said, that's the yard [line] we had to get to. We all knew it. That's what we said in the huddle before we did it, we got there and we made that decision.

"… [It] should've never gotten to that, that's the thing. I think obviously the last decision is something that you're always going to [say], 'Gosh, we could've done this, could've done that.' I think the thing that frustrates me more is that red zone. We had so many opportunities. We were inches away. Talking to the tight ends even today, all four of them had an opportunity to get in the end zone. We had some other people that had some opportunities. We missed them, and it should've never gotten to that."

LOOKING AHEAD

Following the missed field goal, which dropped the Broncos to 0-1, Hackett said he's already turned his attention toward a Week 2 game against Houston. And while the loss in Seattle stings, he noted the positives the offense showed in the season opener.

"I've already moved on from it," Hackett said. "We're already game planning. We've got the next week coming up on a short week, so we've got to get rolling. It's that simple. It's the next game. There's 16 more games. This was the 17th game in my mind. We did a lot of good things, so I don't want to take away from how we moved the ball. Those guys executed … almost to perfection. Russ was great. The running backs, the line — they were all awesome. They were moving the ball all day. We've just got to finish."

Asked whether Sunday's game will be a must-win as Denver looks to even its record, Hackett stressed the importance of all games while recognizing the responsibility and attention that comes with being a head coach.

"Every game, we want to win," Hackett said. "Every game we go into [it with] the mentality that we want to win it. We think we can win it. We're going to do everything we can, and that's just how the game goes. That's part of being in this seat, being in this profession, is that this stuff's going to happen at all times, and it's been happening my whole career, even all the way back when my dad was coaching. You're prepared for that, you understand that. You've just got to keep grinding. That's the only thing I know how to do, is to keep putting my head down, keep working, making sure these guys believe and understand the things we need to correct to be able to get better so we can win some football games."

OFF SCHEDULE

Courtland Sutton recorded four catches for 72 yards in his first game with Wilson, and a pair of the catches came as Wilson extended the play and looked down the field for Sutton. After running his original route, Sutton kept the play alive and found a crease in Seattle's defense to pick up yards. One of those plays came on third-and-8 at the end of the first half, as he picked up 30 yards to put the Broncos in field-goal range.

"He did great," Hackett said. "He had one vs. zone coverage and Russ had to break out. He's a big-bodied target, so he's easy to find when he's moving around. I think he had two — at least two — on the scramble drill, which is great, because that's part of football, to be able to break out and make a play down the field. I think that was really great to see."

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