This one will keep the Seahawks awake at night.
Seattle had this game wrapped up. The Seahawks lead 24-7 heading into the fourth quarter and started the quarter with the ball. Seattle’s defense, after looking vulnerable in the first quarter, had the high-flying Cincinnati offense looking befuddled.
But it’s as if the Seahawks turned off the switch after going ahead 24-7, thinking they had already won the game. Seattle’s offense was stationary in its final six drives, managing just 53 yards and three first downs in what wouldn’t exactly be described as creative play calling. Meanwhile, the defense capitulated, allowing the Bengals to go TD, TD, FG in their final three drives of regulation, with Mike Nugent’s 31-yard field goal as time expired putting the game into overtime.
It was just more of the same in overtime as it seemed inevitable Cincinnati would eventually win. The Bengals did that on the fourth possession of OT as Nugent banked a 41-yard field goal in off the left upright, dropping Seattle to 2-3.
This was a game Seattle didn’t need to win. Indeed, many expected the Seahawks to lose, playing on the road against an undefeated team. A good game in losing wouldn’t have been much of a setback. But the nature of the loss makes it much worse, especially losing the fourth-quarter lead. Seattle couldn’t hold a fourth-quarter advantage in any of its three losses, which is a tremendously worrying trend.
– The Seahawks were in danger of getting blown out right at the start, giving up a touchdown on the game’s first possession, then seeing a 72-yard TD pass to star receiver A.J. Green on the Bengals’ second possession nullified by a holding call. From that moment Seattle moved cornerback Richard Sherman off his usual left-sided spot and onto Green full-time, and that turned the game completely. It wasn’t until the fourth quarter that the Bengals countered as they started picking on Cary Williams to good effect.
– Seattle’s defense was playing great until the fourth quarter. Earl Thomas had the team’s first interception of the season, Bobby Wagner scored a defensive touchdown, and the Seahawks sacked Cincinnati quarterback four times after he was sacked just twice in the first four games combined. Not sure why things changed so dramatically for the defense in the fourth quarter.
– Thomas Rawls had a great game with Marshawn Lynch out injured. Rawls finished with 169 yards rushing on 23 carries, including an electric 69-yard touchdown run. The Seahawks finished with 200 rushing yards, with a lot of the credit belonging to Seattle’s much-maligned offensive line. That line allowed quarterback Russell Wilson to be sacked four more times, but that number is deceiving as one came when Wilson ran out of bounds when he could have thrown the ball away, and a couple others were coverage sacks.
– Cincinnati tight end Tyler Eifert had a big day, with eight catches for 90 yards and two touchdowns. It appeared Seattle strong safety Kam Chancellor was at least partially culpable on both those TDs.
– Get ready for another week of Jimmy Graham talk. Graham’s numbers Sunday: five targets, three catches, 30 yards.
– Seattle lost defensive tackle Jordan Hill to a quadriceps injury in the first half and he did not return after halftime.
I guess the moment that turned the game was a punt return. Seattle punted leading 24-7 early in the fourth quarter. Cincinnati was getting nothing going in the return game, so the Bengals sent Pacman Jones back to return the punt. Jones broke free for a 35-yard return, putting Cincinnati at the Seattle 33-yard-line. The short field was just what the Bengals needed to get themselves back in the game.