All eyes on Case Keenum, who looked like he was throwing with his eyes closed at times.
Overall, Keenum went 25-39 for 349 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions, and he was a definite upgrade over Trevor Siemian, Paxton Lynch and everyone else the Broncos have in years. But, how much better?
Keenum does the simple things well. He led Emmanuel Sanders wonderfully on the crossing route that allowed the playmaker to take the ball 43 yards to the house for Denver’s first score of the day. In the fourth quarter, Keenum stepped up and drove through the ball to hit Jake Butt for a key first down on third and 10, a 21-yard gain in all to push Denver into a goal-to-go situation.
The next play, Keenum threw a laser to Demaryius Thomas for the go-ahead touchdown, incredibly fitting a pass in through two defenders. That one wasn’t an easy throw, it was by-far his best of the game. And, undoubtedly, a throw Siemian couldn’t make.
But, Keenum also struggled mightily at times. First, he stared down Sanders and Earl Thomas read his eyes, jumping in front of the pass for the first interception of the day. On the second pick, the new Broncos quarterback forced a throw into a covered Jake Butt and Bradley McDougald jumped in front for the INT. And in the second half, he threw his third pick of the day.
It wasn’t just the interceptions, either, Keenum also threw wide of Courtland Sutton on a key third down in the first half. In the second half, he missed a corner blitz from the left and threw way off to Sutton on another third down.
In the second half, Keenum held onto the ball too long and was sacked to end the Broncos first drive of the third quarter.
Then, on the next drive, set up by Von Miller’s amazing strip, Keenum threw into double coverage and tossed his third interception of the game. Seattle quickly marched own and scored a touchdown from Russell Wilson to Brandon Marshall — yes, that one — to tie the game up 17-17.
He followed that up with a step up in the pocket on third down, but he fired it too high of a wide open, crossing Tim Patrick which would’ve extended the drive.
Last season was far and away the best in Keenum’s career. He enjoyed a 67.6 completion percentage, throwing for 22 touchdowns and only seven interceptions. In his Broncos debut, the $36 million man tossed nearly half as many interceptions (3) as he had in nearly an entire season with Minnesota. Although, his 64.1 completion percentage on Sunday was solid, and his play in the fourth quarter was clutch.
Simply, for Keenum, it was a more than shaky first game as Denver’s quarterback. Three interceptions thrown helped keep the Seahawks in the game, especially the one after Miller’s forced fumble, which turned into a touchdown for Seattle on the ensuing drive.
Of course, grading his overall performance is a bit tricky because Keenum was able to lead the fourth quarter comeback with a great throw to Jake Butt and then an absolute fastball, on the money, to Thomas for the go-ahead touchdown.
For Broncos fans, watching their new starting quarterback struggle was tough, but in the end, he was able to come through for Denver. One has to expect him to improve over time, considering this was his first game as the Broncos QB, with all eyes on him.