SEATTLE (AP) — Paxton Lynch insisted the opponent provided no extra incentive or motivation.
After spending last year out of the NFL, Lynch had his own motivation.
"I just wanted to show myself all the hard work I had put in had paid off," Lynch said. "I had a long offseason basically. While everyone else was playing I was at home, I wasn't playing, I was watching on TV. I was working hard. I was building myself up, believing in myself and trying to get back to where I was, and trying to figure out how I could do that."
Lynch threw for one score and ran for another against his former team as part of an impressive second-half performance, leading the Seattle Seahawks to a 22-14 win over the Denver Broncos on Thursday night.
Competing with Geno Smith for the backup job behind Russell Wilson, Lynch made up for some shaky moments during the first two weeks of training camp by leading Seattle on a trio of second-half scoring drives using both his arm and legs to move Seattle's offense.
Lynch was 11 of 15 for 109 yards and added another 38 yard rushing. He hit 6-foot-5, undrafted free agent Jazz Ferguson on a 6-yard TD in the third quarter, and added a 9-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter by bulling through Denver defenders at the goal line.
Lynch was a former first-round pick of the Broncos in 2016, only to be released before the start of last season and spent the year out of football.
"He lit up the whole team. It was really good," Seattle coach Pete Carroll said.
Joe Flacco made his Denver debut, although it was a brief appearance for the Broncos' starting QB. Flacco played just one series and completed 3 of 4 passes for 19 yards, leading to a field goal before turning it over to backups Kevin Hogan and a lengthy look at rookie Drew Lock.
"Obviously you want to put the ball in the end zone there, but we did some simple things very well and it was definitely good to get out there and get live-action," Flacco said.
Lock struggled in his first outing last week against Atlanta in the Hall of Fame game, but was better against Seattle. Lock was 17 of 28 for 180 yards. He threw a 4-yard touchdown pass to Devontae Jackson late in the fourth quarter, but was intercepted after being hit with 2:01 left.
"Obviously, it can be better, but I thought he'd made progress this week both in practice and in the game and I think it showed at times out there," Denver coach Vic Fangio said. "But you know, it's still a process for him and I don't know how long it's going to take, but I think this past week and this game were great for him."
Lynch and Smith split duties in the opener with Wilson spending the evening as a spectator. Smith was asked to face a good chunk of Denver's starting defense initially, including Von Miller, but even against reserves the night was a struggle for the veteran as Seattle's reserve offensive line couldn't consistently give Smith time in the pocket.
Smith was 3 of 9 for 58 yards and a passer rating of 56.7, although he nearly had a 34-yard touchdown connection with DK Metcalf late in the first half only to see the pass tip off Metcalf's outstretched fingers.
Lynch took over at halftime and led Seattle on a pair of third-quarter scoring drives, the first leading to a 43-yard field goal from Jason Myers and the second capped with his strike to Ferguson.
The Broncos host the 49ers Monday, August 19.
NFL PRESEASON WEEK 1
Jakobi Meyers caught two touchdown passes in an impressive preseason debut, and the New England Patriots drubbed the Detroit Lions 31-3 on Thursday night. Tom Brady and Matthew Stafford didn't play, and plenty of other key players were also spectators, but Meyers stood out for New England. The undrafted rookie caught scoring passes from Brian Hoyer and Jarrett Stidham in the second quarter. He finished with six catches for 69 yards.
With LeSean McCoy resting, and Frank Gore limited to two series, rookie running back Devin Singletary got the Buffalo Bills off to a running start in their preseason-opening 24-16 win over the Indianapolis Colts. The Colts struggled on offense while sitting out numerous starters, including starting quarterback Andrew Luck, who is nursing a strained left calf.
Lamar Jackson directed two scoring drives in three possessions, and the Baltimore Ravens' defense throttled Jacksonville Jaguars backup quarterback Gardner Minshew in a 29-0 preseason victory. The Jaguars played without quarterback Nick Foles, the 2018 Super Bowl MVP who was signed as a free agent in March.
Baker Mayfield was nearly perfect in Cleveland's preseason opener. He threw a touchdown pass in his only series as the Browns beat the Washington Redskins 30-10 in Freddie Kitchens' debut as coach. Odell Beckham Jr., the Browns' big offseason pickup, didn't play. Redskins QB Case Keenum threw a TD pass while rookie Dwayne Haskins had two interceptions.
Josh Rosen threw for 191 yards and directed three scoring drives of more than 60 yards to help the Miami Dolphins win their exhibition opener against the Atlanta Falcons, 34-27. Rosen went 13 for 20 with no touchdowns and one interception and played half the game
The Philadelphia Eagles rested Carson Wentz only to lose his backup. Nate Sudfeld left the sideline on a cart after injuring his left arm on a late hit in the second quarter of Philadelphia's 27-10 loss to the Tennessee Titans.
Kyler Murray wanted to take his team on a scoring drive Thursday night, and even checked twice with his coach to see if he could play beyond one possession. Arizona didn't take any chances with their prized rookie quarterback, but Murray completed nearly all of his passes and showed the mobility that made him the top overall draft pick, going 6 for 7 for 44 yards in 10 plays during the Cardinals' first offensive series of the game. Then he put on a headset, took off his pads and watched the Cardinals' 17-13 win over the Los Angeles Chargers in the preseason opener for both teams.
DeShone Kizer was 8 for 13 with 102 yards and a touchdown and the Packers topped the Houston Texans 28-26 in the preseason opener for both teams and the first game for LaFleur as head coach.
With Elliott Fry and Eddy Pineiro battling for the Chicago Bears kicking job, the best kicking effort in Thursday's preseason opener came instead from Carolina Panthers rookie Joey Slye. Slye made field goals of 42, 55 and 29 yards and the Panthers had a 7-yard touchdown catch and 11-yard TD run from rookie Elijah Holyfield in a 23-13 victory over the Bears.
Daniel Jones wowed the New York Giants in his short debut. It's seemingly only a matter of time before people call for the kid to replace two-time Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning at quarterback. Jones hit all five of his passes and capped his only series with a pinpoint 12-yard touchdown pass to Bennie Fowler III in leading the Giants to a 31-22 victory over the local rival Jets on Thursday night in a preseason game suspended for 59 minutes in the first quarter when lightning and heavy rain rolled into the Meadowlands area.
Buccaneers at Steelers - 5:30 (NFL Network)
Vikings at Saints - 6:00