Week 1 of the 2022 NFL season concluded on Monday evening with a tightly contested matchup between the Denver Broncos and the Seattle Seahawks. The contest featured a pair of crucial fumbles at the goal line by the Broncos on the road, leaving Russell Wilson trailing in the final minutes in his return to Seattle. Denver dominated the box score throughout the evening and, down the stretch, it seemed as if the Broncos were in a favorable position to complete a comeback and secure a season-opening win. However, new Broncos head coach Nathaniel Hackett deployed a rather interesting clock management strategy in the closing moments, effectively playing for a 64-yard field goal that eventually missed the mark to ensure a 17-16 defeat.
Denver took over with a one-point deficit and more than four minutes remaining. With the help of a somewhat controversial spot and measurement, the Broncos picked up an initial first down and moved relatively quickly to striking distance. Denver also had all three of its timeouts, but the Broncos were seemingly content to bleed clock the entire way, reaching the two-minute warning at their own 40-yard line and letting the entire play clock elapse before a 4th-and-5 scenario at Seattle’s 46-yard line.
Observers were utterly baffled by the clock management in real time, with few even considering the possibility that the Broncos could be purposefully setting up a 64-yard field goal attempt. When Wilson called a timeout at the play clock buzzer, Hackett turned to Brandon McManus, who had enough leg but not enough accuracy on his kick.
While it was 4th-and-5 and the Broncos would have needed to convert to move the chains and give McManus a better chance, the odds of even a high-end kicker (which McManus is) burying a 64-yard kick on the road are rather slim. Beyond that, the entire sequence of clock management was truly befuddling, especially when remembering that the Broncos acquired Wilson and paid him a handsome sum in a contract extension to convert in moments such as this.
This wasn’t a case in which the “analytics people” were on one side alone, either, as the masses just could not understand the thinking from Hackett and roasted him for an all-time bizarre decision.
If the Broncos fired Hackett after tonight, I’d understand.
— Carrington Harrison (@cdotharrison) September 13, 2022
I ain’t paying $256 Million to let my kicker kick a 64 yard field goal on 4th and 5.
— Ryan Clark (@Realrclark25) September 13, 2022
i cannot immediately remember worse decision-making than what i just saw from the broncos. that was so goddamn stupid
— Jon Bois (@jon_bois) September 13, 2022
WHAT IN THE WORLD IS HACKETT THINKING?!?!?!
— Matt Schubert (@MattDSchubert) September 13, 2022
I think Nathaniel Hackett has been drinking
— Todd Fuhrman (@ToddFuhrman) September 13, 2022
That was just some of the worst coaching i have ever seen. How is it possible to be that bad
— Josh Lloyd (@redrock_bball) September 13, 2022
You give up a truckload of picks and a vault full of money for Russell Wilson and you take the ball out of his hands for a SIXTY FOUR YARD field goal???
— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) September 13, 2022
Kicked a 92 yrdr in Seattle as an opposing team. 🤦🏽♂️
— nick vanexel (@vanexel31) September 13, 2022
Call one of THREE timeouts and attempt a 4th and 5 with Russell Wilson and a badass pass catching corps?
Or a 64 yard field goal attempt on the road?
Nathaniel Hackett: Gimme the FG and I’ll take my timeouts after he misses
— Nick Kostos (@TheKostos) September 13, 2022
They played for a 64-yard FG. Unreal. Broncos earned every ounce of that L.
Hope Pete, Geno, & the 12s enjoy every bit of it. https://t.co/DUQRXsTzvt
— Heath Cummings (@heathcummingssr) September 13, 2022
These dorks ran the clock down to try a SIXTY FOUR YARD field goal?! You’re kicked out of the league.
— Zoo With Roy (@zoowithroy) September 13, 2022
Hackett had 2 options:
1. Ask a guy who had already thrown for 340 yards to throw for 5 more.
2. Ask a guy whose career-long FG was 61 to make from 64.
He chose Option No. 2.
This will be hard to live down.
— Chris Raybon (@ChrisRaybon) September 13, 2022