Miller leads Broncos past Seahawks 27-24
AP Pro Football Writer
DENVER — Von Miller sacked Russell Wilson three times, forced two fumbles and recovered one in helping Case Keenum win his Denver debut Sunday when the Broncos held off the Seattle Seahawks 27-24.
“I still don’t like playing against Russell, I mean, running around out there 20 yards, getting everybody tired,” Miller said after Denver’s 18th win its past 19 home openers. “Luckily, we were able to get him before he could get started.
“That was in our scheme this week, we wanted to keep him in the pocket and (make) him beat us with his arm, which he’s capable of doing. But we’d rather pick that poison and that strategy worked.”
Wilson threw for 298 yards and three TDs, but was picked off twice and sacked six times and ran just twice for 5 yards.
“He got out of the pocket a couple of times, but that’s Russ,” Miller said. “He’s a great player. He’s going to get out of the pocket, but we kept some of the great plays to a minimum.”
Keenum threw for 329 yards and three touchdowns, but was also intercepted three times.
“Obviously, not exactly how you draw it up, but man, it doesn’t matter how, it matters how many,” Keenum said. “That was our first one and I’m really excited about how good this football team can be. Because if we take care of the ball — if I take care of the ball, because those are all on me — we’re going to be really, really hard to beat.”
Demaryius Thomas atoned for early hiccups with several key catches and a touchdown and Royce Freeman, the first rookie to start an opener for Denver since Hall of Famer Terrell Davis in 1995, helped the Broncos all but salt it away.
The Seahawks got the ball back at their 12 with no timeouts and 1:01 left and couldn’t go anywhere, Wilson finally throwing the ball up at midfield where cornerback Adam Jones picked it off with no time remaining.
“It’s frustrating,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. “Third downs we were lousy (2 for 12) and we didn’t run the ball as well as we wanted (64 yards) and we got sacked a bunch of times. It was not a very clean game for us.”
Wilson put the Seahawks ahead 24-20 when he found Tyler Lockett all alone for a 51-yard touchdown catch early in the fourth quarter. But Keenum responded with a 4-yard strike to a tip-toeing Thomas, putting the Broncos back on top for good with 11:11 left.
Miller’s best play was one where he simply snatched the ball out of running back Chris Carson’s arms. But on the next play, Keenum threw his third interception, the second one picked off by safety Bradley McDougald, who returned this one 39 yards to the Denver 41.
That led to Brandon Marshall’s 20-yard TD catch that tied it at 17 and came against the team he started his career with back in 2006.
Miller cracked the top 50 on the all-time sacks list with a 13-yard sack of Wilson in the fourth quarter.
One of Keenum’s interceptions came when Demaryius Thomas, who also had three passes go off his hands and was whistled for a holding call that negated a first-down run, never looked back and safety Earl Thomas snared it in his first game since ending his holdout Wednesday.
Six seconds later, rookie tight end Will Dissly blew past rookie linebacker Bradley Chubb and hauled in the 15-yard TD pass.
After undrafted rookie Phillip Lindsay turned a short pass from Keenum into a 29-yard touchdown, Dissly again beat Chubb, this time for a 66-yard gain that set up Sebastian Janikowski’s 35-yard field goal.
Denver took a 14-10 lead when Emmanuel Sanders somersaulted into the end zone with a 43-yard score.
Brandon McManus was good from 51 yards and Janikowski missed back-to-back field-goal attempts from 51 and 46 yards just after the two-minute warning.
TWIN TROUBLE: Shaquill Griffin’s twin brother, rookie linebacker Shaquem Griffin, started the game with K.J. Wright out following minor knee surgery. It’s another chapter in the remarkable story of Griffin , who had his left hand amputated as a child.
The Griffins had back-to-back tackles on Seattle’s second defensive series.
NATIONAL ANTHEM: Two players on each team retreated through their tunnel during the national anthem: Demaryius Thomas and Brandon Marshall of the Broncos and Seattle’s Quinton Jefferson and Duane Brown. All four did the same during the preseason.
INJURIES: The only injury of note from either team was Seattle WR Doug Baldwin (right MCL sprain).
Seahawks: Visit Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday.
Broncos: Host Oakland Raiders on Sunday.
Follow Arnie Melendrez Stapleton on Twitter: http://twitter.com/arniestapleton