By DENNIS GEORGATOS
The Sports Xchange
DENVER – Case Keenum readily admitted his mistakes yet his solid overall play rendered them little more than an afterthought.
Keenum, in his debut as the Broncos’ starting quarterback, overcame three interceptions by throwing for three touchdowns, including the go-ahead score to Demaryius Thomas in the fourth quarter, and Denver rallied to beat the Seattle Seahawks 27-24 Sunday.
“The game was still in our hands,” Keenum said. “We’re up, and then they went and scored a touchdown. We’ve got to go make a play. You’ve got to forget about everything that you’ve done and play the next play. It was a big-time drive _ one we needed.”
Keenum, an offseason free agent acquisition, also had touchdown passes of 29 yards to rookie running back Phillip Lindsay and 43 yards to Emmanuel Sanders. He completed 25 of 39 for 329 yards and weathered the turnovers in leading the Broncos to a seventh straight season-opening victory.
“He had three interceptions; that’s not good, but he also had three touchdowns and he stayed aggressive for us,” Broncos coach Vance Joseph said. “We pulled a win out, but obviously we can all play better.”
Russell Wilson completed 19 of 33 for 298 yards and three touchdowns. But he was under relentless pressure from Denver’s defense, which sacked him six times, including three by Von Miller. The Seahawks final possession ended in an interception by Adam Jones as time expired, Wilson’s second interception of the game.
“It’s frustrating,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. “Third downs were lousy and we didn’t run the ball as well as we wanted and we got sacked a bunch of times. It was not a very clean game for us.”
Late in the third quarter, Brandon McManus kicked a 53-yard field goal, his second 50-plus yard field goal of the day to put the Broncos back on top by 3.
Seattle, though, took advantage of a breakdown in the Broncos’ secondary to regain the lead. Tyler Lockett found a seam in the Broncos’ coverage and Wilson hit him in stride for a 51-yard catch and run for the touchdown and a 24-20 Seattle lead early in the fourth quarter.
Again, Denver came back. Keenum led the Broncos on a 75-yard march, getting them within striking distance with a 22-yard completion to tight end Jake Butt and a roughing the passer penalty on Seattle’s Dion Jordan that gave Denver a first-and-goal at the 4. Two plays later, Keenum connected with Thomas, who tapped his toes along the side of the end zone before falling out of bounds for a scoring catch with 11:11 remaining that withstood replay review and stood up for the final margin.
“I knew I was in, the referee just had to confirm it,” Thomas said. “I got nice feet on the sideline, he put the ball in the right spot. I made a play on it and that was that.”
Down by seven, the Seahawks evened the score at 17-all on Brandon Marshall’s 20-yard scoring catch midway through the third quarter. The score followed a wild sequence in which the teams traded turnovers on consecutive plays
Broncos outside linebacker Von Miller stripped the ball from the grasp of running back Chris Carson at the end of a 7-yard gain. But Seattle got the ball right back when Keenum was intercepted for the third time in the game _ and second time on the day _ by strong safety Bradley McDougald, whose 39-yard return to the Denver 41 helped to set up the tying touchdown.
Trailing early, Denver scored a pair of touchdowns and a field goal around a Seattle field goal to take a 17-10 halftime lead.
Lindsay, who made the team as an undrafted free agent out of Colorado, was all alone in the flat and caught a swing pass from Keenum that he turned into a 29-yard score to tie it up at 7-7.
Rookie tight end Will Dissly shook free for a 66-yard reception but the Seahawks settled for Sebastian Janikowski’s 30-yard field goal after Marshall’s 7-yard touchdown catch from quarterback Russell Wilson was negated by an offensive interference call on Marshall.
Keenum hit Sanders as the Broncos wide receiver sprinted across the middle. Sanders broke a defender’s tackle at around the 20 and dashed down the right sideline before somersaulting into the end zone to put the Broncos up 14-10 with 10:24 remaining in the second quarter.
Denver added a 51-yard field goal by McManus.
The Seahawks struck first, set up by safety Earl Thomas' interception of Keenum, who forced a throw into double coverage. Thomas, who ended a holdout earlier this week and got the start despite missing training camp, returned the interception 26 yards to the Broncos' 15. Wilson fooled the Broncos defense with a play-action pass to Dissly. He got behind safety Darien Stewart and outside linebacker Bradley Chubb, gathering the ball in and running down the left sideline 15 yards to go into the end zone untouched.
Notes: Seattle wide receiver Doug Baldwin left in the first half with a right knee injury and did not return. McManus has kicked 13 50-plus yard field goals in his career, third most in Broncos history Jason Elam (37) and Matt Prater (21).