Bengals show Hawks they have long way to go
SEATTLE – In the words of head coach Pete Carroll, the Seahawks “found out some stuff” on Sunday.
Unfortunately for Carroll and his team, what they found is that they still have a long, long way to go.
On the way to a 34-12 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, the Seahawks learned plenty. For example, they learned that it’s awfully hard to win when you can only manage to squeeze 12 points out of 411 yards of offense. They learned that no defense, not even a good one, can overcome special teams that gives up punt returns of 63 and 56 yards – the later of which was the game-clinching touchdown – and a kick return of 45 yards. They learned that it’s tough to win while committing 11 penalties for 80 yards, or while trying to catch the ball with their facemasks. They learned that a hurting Tarvaris Jackson is better than a healthy Charlie Whitehurst. And Carroll himself learned, though not for the first time, that sometime his aggressive personality can get the better of him in the heat of the moment.
“We really gave them everything they needed in this game,” Carroll said. “We’re getting in our own way too much. We have a lot of improvement that we have to locate. … It’s not a good place to be, but it’s a good place to leave behind, and we’re going to do everything we can to get that done.”
Only three weeks ago, the Seahawks pulled off a stunning upset in New York, and that win over the Giants had a lot of people thinking the team might have turned a corner. Coming off of their bye, the Seahawks would play Cleveland and Cincinnati, two orange-clad teams from the fine state of Ohio that, given the progress shown against New York, looked beatable. The Seahawks thought they could be 4-3 by this point, thinking about a playoff race with San Francisco. Instead, the Seahawks lost 6-3 in Cleveland with Whitehurst under center last week, then fell behind early and never fully recovered against the Bengals on Sunday.
“It’s hard to deal with being 2-5 and losing two straight,” Jackson said. “We came out of the bye week and this is not what we pictured – being a 2-5 team.”
Jackson ended up passing for 323 yards, a career high, but he did not start the game. Instead, Carroll went with Whitehurst, hoping to let Jackson’s pectoral strain rest another week. But after the offense had two three-and-outs and a field goal in three possessions under Whitehurst, Carroll decided it was time to put Jackson in the game. By the time he made that decision, however, the Seahawks were down 10-0, the result of a long Bengals field goal drive on their opening possession, then a three-play touchdown drive that was set up by a 63-yard Adam Jones punt return.
The Cincinnati lead grew to 17-3 late in the second quarter when rookies Andy Dalton and A.J. Green connected for a 43-yard touchdown pass.
“That was a real back breaker,” Carroll said.
If Green’s catch was the back breaker, then what happened at the end of the half was the head scratcher. After putting together a drive deep into Bengals territory, Seattle found itself running out of time and downs. Facing fourth-and-2 at the Bengals 3-yard line, Carroll elected to go for it rather than kick a field goal with 14 seconds left. Marshawn Lynch got the first down, but not the touchdown, and time ran out before Seattle could get to the line of scrimmage to spike the ball. It was one of the learning moments Carroll talked about after the game
“We learned about what happens when a coach gets hormonal and tries to jam it down their throat for a touchdown at the end of the half,” he said. “That was a mistake.”
An interception by rookie cornerback Richard Sherman, who was making his first start, set up a field goal to make the score 17-6. Another interception, this one by safety Kam Chancellor, stopped the Bengals’ ensuing drive. Jackson then led a 79-yard drive that was capped by a 2-yard Lynch run, and midway through the fourth quarter, the Seahawks were down 17-12 after failing on the two-point conversion.
The Bengals (5-2) answered with a field goal, but the Seahawks were still in the game down eight points until Brandon Tate blew the game open with a 56-yard punt return with 3:22 remaining. Cincinnati added a 75-yard interception return for a touchdown for good measure.
Despite another lopsided loss, Carroll believes this will turn around.
“I look at our guys and I see a much better group than how we’re performing right now,” Carroll said. “And I’m not going to step back until we see it. It’s going to take us a little while, but we can see the future of this offensive line, we can see the future of our quarterback, we can see the future of our receivers, and they’re all going to play better.”
Bengals 34, Seahawks 12
Cin—FG Nugent 34, 6:44
Cin—Simpson 14 pass from Dalton (Nugent kick), 3:47
Sea—FG Hauschka 47, 14:55
Cin—Green 43 pass from Dalton (Nugent kick), 1:51
Sea—FG Hauschka 25, :04
Sea—Lynch 2 run (pass failed), 8:55
Cin—FG Nugent 48, 4:50
Cin—Tate 56 punt return (Nugent kick), 3:22
Cin—Nelson 75 interception return (Nugent kick), :36
|Total Net Yards||252||411|
|Time of Possession||31:27||28:33|
RUSHING—Cincinnati, Scott 22-76, Leonard 2-7, Hawkins 1-6, Dalton 2-3. Seattle, Washington 2-34, Lynch 16-24, Jackson 1-2, Whitehurst 1-1.
PASSING—Cincinnati, Dalton 18-29-2-168. Seattle, Jackson 21-40-1-323, Whitehurst 4-7-0-52.
RECEIVING—Cincinnati, Green 4-63, Caldwell 4-31, Lee 3-44, Scott 3-0, Leonard 2-10, Simpson 1-14, Pressley 1-6. Seattle, Rice 7-102, Baldwin 5-73, Obomanu 4-107, Miller 3-37, Morrah 2-21, Tate 2-11, Forsett 1-13, Robinson 1-11.