Seahawks blow 17-point fourth-quarter lead, lose 27-24 to Bengals in OT

CINCINNATI — “FINISH!” Failed. Again.

Pete Carroll, the man behind that one-word mantra, bent at the waist in the middle of the Seattle Seahawks’ coldly silent locker room. The head coach lowered to talk in almost a whisper to Richard Sherman, who was sitting on a wooden stool.

The All-Pro cornerback was just shaking his head over this latest late collapse and defeat his coach described as “baffling.”

A few feet to their right, Cary Williams stared straight into the carpeted floor. The cornerback the Bengals targeted eight times for three completions, one 72-yard touchdown that got called back and two interference penalties — including the one that help set up Cincinnati’s field goal on regulation’s final play — had his head in his hands.

For three quarters Sunday, 65,000 stunned Ohioans made sold-out Paul Brown Stadium sound almost empty. The Seahawks defense looked like its old self . It was holding undefeated Cincinnati’s league-leading passing game to just one touchdown. Seattle led 24-7.

For the fourth quarter, the Seahawks defense looked like the version of its recent past. And that’s not going to win any titles.

The Seahawks failed to hold a fourth-quarter lead for the fifth time in seven games dating to January’s NFC championship game. That’s why they lost 27-24 in overtime to the Bengals on a 42-yard field goal by Mike Nugent that bounced off the left upright and through the goal posts with 3:36 left in overtime.

It was the largest blown lead in a loss for Seattle in 11 years. On Oct. 10, 2004, the Seahawks also led 24-7, at home against St. Louis, and also lost in overtime.

“It’s about looking at ourselves in the mirror, from up front to the back end,” defensive end Cliff Avril said, “and deciding to get better.”

At 2-3, the defending two-time NFC champions cannot afford to get much worse.

Their only wins this season entering next weekend’s home game against unbeaten Carolina remain against Chicago and Detroit. Both were winless when they got to Seattle, and the Lions (whom Seattle escaped for a 13-10 win) still are.

Sunday against the NFL’s hottest team, the Seahawks dominated the first 47 minutes.

But they had to play 60.

The Seahawks scored 17 unanswered points and out-gained the NFL’s second-ranked offense and top-ranked passing game 236-58 from the end of the first quarter until 2 minutes remained in the third.

Then the Bengals (5-0) scored 17 points in the final 121⁄2 minutes of fourth quarter, including an 82-yard drive in the final 2:17 without any timeouts. That ended with Cincinnati’s field-goal unit rushing onto the field and Nugent making his 31-yard field goal as time expired in regulation, extending a game that should have been over.

In the end, Seattle’s offense gave no help to the Seahawks’ defense.

“We left the defense out there too long. … That starts with me,” quarterback Russell Wilson said.

He completed 15 of 23 passes for 213 yards, with a touchdown pass to Jermaine Kearse, one interception — and four more sacks. He’s been sacked 22 times in five games.

Rookie running back Thomas Rawls gained 169 yards, starting his second consecutive game because Marshawn Lynch was back home and again out with a strained hamstring. Rawls bulled Lynch-like for a 69-yard touchdown to make it 24-7 midway through the third quarter.

But after that, the Seahawks ran 26 plays and gained 53 yards. That’s not exactly a “FINISH!”

“Really tough loss,” Carroll said. “I’m baffled a little bit. We’re very clear about what we want to do and how to get it done. What’s startling is that it’s not happening.

“We’ve had to be terrific in this mode for years to be able to do what we’ve done. The last three (losses) have been the same story line at the end.

“If we can fix that, we can change the season. And that’s what we plan to do.”

It was 24-7 in the third quarter when Cincinnati’s Adam “Pacman” Jones ran back a punt 35 yards to the Seattle 33. DeShawn Shead, usually a sure special-teams ace, took responsibility for that. Then All-Pro middle linebacker Bobby Wagner banged his sore shoulder and went off with a trainer and team doctor with a pectoral-muscle injury.

On the second of two plays Wagner missed, the Bengals scored on a 10-yard pass from Andy Dalton to tight end Tyler Eifert down the middle past a flailing Kam Chancellor, who with Williams had extra-rough days in coverage and tackling. Seattle’s lead was down to 24-14 with 12:45 left.

Along the sideline, Wagner yelled and angrily stomped away from the doctor as the Bengals scored the TD that revived their chances.

Leading by 10, Seattle had third and 2 with 9:50 remaining in the fourth quarter. Rawls and fullback Derrick Coleman were in an I formation. The Seahawks had 182 yards rushing to that point. But, curiously, they chose to throw. Wilson couldn’t find anyone open. He scrambled around and then threw the ball away, getting drilled in the chest by Cincinnati’s George Iloka while doing it. The Bengals got the ball back with 9 minutes to go.

Wilson said that call was for a pass in the flat or over the middle to tight end Jimmy Graham (three catches, five targets, 30 yards). He didn’t have time to find either option.

Dalton (30-for-44, 331 yards) then converted consecutive third downs with throws. When he saw the middle of the Seahawks’ defense empty on second-and-goal from the 5 he ran it in to cut the lead to 24-21 with 3:38 to play.

That set up the rest of Seattle’s latest collapse, its worst in 11 years.

“Last year we were 3-3 and going nowhere. I think we’re closer now than we were then,” Carroll said.

“We’re not dead and gone. We don’t feel like that at all. We just need to fix some things, and I think we can.

“We just need to finish the game.”

Talk to us

More in Sports

Brazilian skater Kelvin Hoefler jumps over the SLS sign during a Street League Skateboarding event. (Photo provided by SLS)
Ready to get radical in Everett

Street League Skateboarding is bringing some of the world’s top skateboarders to Angel of the Winds Arena this weekend.

Seattle Seahawks' Marshawn Lynch warms up before an NFL wild-card playoff football game against the Philadelphia Eagles, Sunday, Jan. 5, 2020, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Michael Perez)
Vegas police: Marshawn Lynch was asleep in car before arrest

The former Seahawks’ vehicle was in “undriveable condition,” with no tire on the driver’s side front wheel, according to a report.

A korfball hits the edge of the basket Thursday evening at Mukilteo Beach on September 9, 2021. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Community roundup: Kamiak trio set for beach korfball worlds

Plus, Cascade grad Aubrey Peterson helps Great Britain earn softball silver and much more.

Seattle Mariners players dance as they celebrate their 4-3 win over the New York Yankees in a baseball game, Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2022, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
M’s rally past Yankees on Santana homer in 7th

Hours after a thrilling 13-inning win, Seattle comes from behind to beat New York 4-3.

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith, center, passes as head coach Pete Carroll, left, and assistant quarterbacks coach Kerry Joseph, right, look on, during NFL football practice Saturday, July 30, 2022, in Renton, Wash. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Smith to start at QB in Seahawks’ preseason opener

Veteran Geno Smith remains in front of Drew Lock in the key position battle, according to head coach Pete Carroll.

AquaSox's manager, Louis Boyd, Funko Field at Everett Memorial Stadium in Everett on July 28, 2019. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
AquaSox hold off Dust Devils to snap 6-game skid

Mike Salvatore and Dariel Gomez provide key hits in Everett’s 4-2 win.

FILE - Serena Williams reacts after beating Victoria Azarenka, of Belarus, in the championship match at the 2012 U.S. Open tennis tournament, Sunday, Sept. 9, 2012, in New York. Saying “the countdown has begun,” 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams announced Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2022, she is ready to step away from tennis so she can turn her focus to having another child and her business interests, presaging the end of a career that transcended sports.AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Serena Williams says she’s ready to step away from tennis

The 23-time Grand Slam champion indicates in an essay that she will stop playing after this month’s U.S. Open.

Washington State head coach Nick Rolovich looks on during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Utah, Saturday, Dec. 19, 2020, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
Rolovich seeking $25M from WSU for wrongful termination

The football coach was fired in 2021 for refusing to get the COVID-19 vaccine as required of state employees.

FILE - Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch walks off the field after NFL football practice in Renton, Wash., in this Friday, Dec. 27, 2019, file photo. During Marshawn Lynch’s 12 NFL seasons he earned a reputation for his fearless style on the field, while remaining one of the league’s most reclusive figures off the field. Now the retired running back is lending his voice to try to help members of Black and Hispanic communities make more informed decisions about receiving COVID-19 vaccines. Lynch released a 30-minute interview with Dr. Anthony Fauci on his YouTube channel Friday, April 16, 2021, becoming the latest prominent athlete to sit down with him to discuss the efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines as the U.S. continues to combat the pandemic.  (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)
Marshawn Lynch arrested on suspicion of DUI in Las Vegas

The former Seahawks star was taken into custody around 7:25 a.m. Tuesday morning.

Most Read