Here’s how the Seattle Seahawks grade out in their 21-20 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday afternoon at CenturyLink Field:
There was some real ugliness about the Seahawks’ offense Sunday. The line struggled to protect quarterback Russell Wilson, and Seattle frequenty found itself backing up when given good field position. There were some bright spots. Running back Chris Carson scored two touchdowns and showed off the same tackle-breaking ability he displayed last season, and rookie receiver D.K. Metcalf lived up to the hype in his NFL debut. But 233 total yards at home against a team no one is picking as a playoff contender isn’t enough.
In large part this was a classic Pete Carroll-coached defensive performance. Seattle shut the Cincinnati run game down, made big stops on third and fourth downs, and the Seahawks were more than willing to allow Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton to complete passes underneath as long as they prevented the explosive play. However, Seattle didn’t prevent the explosive play, allowing two touchdown passes of 33 yards or more, and the defense on the Hail Mary play at the end of the first half that resulted in John Ross III’s 55-yard touchdown catch was atrocious.
The most important thing the special teams did was create a turnover in punt coverage that led to a field goal — though the fumble was as much a result of Cincinnati returner Alex Erickson’s poor ball security as it was the coverage unit. Seattle never got anything going in the return game, but the Seahawks managed to limit the Bengals’ return game. Punter Michael Dickson was his usual self, and kicker Jason Myers put every kickoff out of the end zone.
There were a few boos heard from the crowd following some play calling that lacked adventure, and for some reason No. 1 receiver Tyler Lockett didn’t receive a single target until the first play of the fourth quarter. Kudos to the coaches for making that first target a 44-yard touchdown that proved to be the game winner. Head coach Pete Carroll challenged a pass interference call against cornerback Tre Flowers and lost, but given it came on third down at a crucial point of the game with Cincinnati in the red zone, it was a risk worth taking.
The good news is that the Seahawks began the season with a victory. The bad news is that they were less than convincing in the process, being outgained almost two-to-one and needing some instances of good fortune when Cincinnati was in scoring position — Dalton had a ball slip out of his hand for an interception, receiver Tyler Boyd slipped on a possible touchdown pass — to eke out a win. Yes it’s a victory, but it sure felt like Seattle dodged a bullet in this one.
– Nick Patterson, Herald writer