BRANDON GUSTAFSON

Seahawks’ offense spoils big day by defense in loss to Bengals

Oct 15, 2023, 1:52 PM | Updated: 2:05 pm

Seattle Seahawks...

Geno Smith of the Seattle Seahawks slides while under pressure against the Bengals on Oct. 15, 2023. (Dylan Buell/Getty Images)

(Dylan Buell/Getty Images)

Unlike recent years where the Seattle Seahawks’ defense let them down in close contests, it was the offense that didn’t come to play on Sunday in Cincinnati in a 17-13 loss to the Bengals.

Bengals 17, Hawks 13: Reaction | Big Plays | Recap | Stats

Seattle’s defense was stellar against a Bengals team that has been among the NFL’s best the last few seasons. This year has been tougher for Cincy with star quarterback Joe Burrow banged up, but the Bengals were coming off a 34-point performance last week in a win over Arizona.

The Seattle Seahawks held Burrow and Co. to just 17 points and 214 total yards. They also forced an interception and a turnover on downs. But after Seattle’s offense started hot with a surgical touchdown drive to open the game, that unit led by Geno Smith failed miserably the rest of the way when it mattered.

The Seahawks tallied 381 yards of offense, far outgaining Cincy, but Smith threw two interceptions, was sacked four times and was hit a whopping 13 times. The Bengals’ defensive line took the game over in the second half, sacking Smith, disrupting pass plays and, with the game on the line in the fourth quarter, bullying Seattle’s offensive line to force a weak incompletion on the Hawks’ final play of the game.

The Hawks outgained the Bengals by 167 total yards. The offense more than had its chances to win that game.

Seattle had five red zone trips – including the final drive of the game after a big three-and-out forced by the defense – but tallied just 10 points. One of those trips ended with an ill-advised throw to Jaxon Smith-Njigba that was intercepted, while two in the fourth quarter ended with turnovers on downs.

The defense entered this season as the biggest question mark after more struggles last year, primarily against the run, and five consecutive years where that side of the ball was an Achilles heel for Seattle.

That unit has largely answered the call this year, and Sunday was no different in a tough environment.

Tre Brown was awesome at outside corner, picking off a pass and forcing both an incompletion and offensive pass interference penalty on a key Bengals fourth quarter drive.

Rookie corner Devon Witherspoon again shined, breaking up three passes.

After Burrow began the game peppering Seattle with quick passes, the secondary and front-seven gelled, forcing incompletions, tougher throwing lanes and, most importantly, getting pressure in Burrow’s face.

The Hawks finished the day with three sacks, five quarterback hits and six pass breakups. After catching five passes for 67 yards in the first half, star Bengals receiver Ja’Marr Chase had one catch for 13 yards in the second half, and he was the intended receiver on Brown’s interception.

Strong safety Jamal Adams returned from his concussion and made an impact all around the field, including some nice open-field tackles.

But Smith and the offense let them down.

It was a tough day for Seattle’s QB, who clearly was impacted by the pressure Cincinnati generated.

The Seahawks’ makeshift offensive line had played well in pass protection entering Sunday, but that unit could not keep Cincy defenders away from the quarterback.

The pressure and hits clearly got Smith off his game on a number of occasions, but the 2022 Pro Bowler didn’t help himself on a few instances.

Smith’s first interception intended for JSN was a poor play where the rookie receiver was locked up with multiple defenders in the area. It seemed like Smith knew before the snap he was throwing it there.

Smith also attempted to spin outside with pressure in his face late, resulting in lost plays or a long loss on one sack.

The second pick looked to be on receiver DK Metcalf’s as it seemed like he stopped running his route, making it seem like it was Bengals corner Cam Taylor-Britt’s ball to catch. Smith after the game took blame for the interception, labeling it as a miscommunication with Metcalf.

It feels good to not be biting our nails or banging our heads against the wall when Seattle’s defense takes the field, at least.

Through five games this year, the huge plays, easy completions and lack of pressure put on opposing offenses are less frequent than has been the case in the post-Legion of Boom era, and the run defense has improved greatly from a year ago.

Getting Adams and Brown back while adding safety Julian Love to the mix has also made the secondary better and more dangerous.

But in a game that was ripe for the taking, Seattle’s offense couldn’t answer the call.

It’s not time to slam the panic button on that unit. The offensive line was down two starters, and it’s a group that not only scored 37 points in Week 2 and Week 3 but was also great last year. The Bengals have had a very good defense these last few seasons, too, and that appears to be the case once again in 2023. Their pass rush especially has been key to their success the last two seasons.

The Seahawks have a good opportunity to get Smith and the offense back on track next week at home against Arizona, but coming off a bye week, that was hardly an inspiring effort from that side of the ball.

More on the Seattle Seahawks

Bumpus: Wagner’s return to Seahawks has exceeded expectations
How a Seahawks rookie benefits from O-line’s shuffling
Salk: Why this Seahawks defense is different than we’ve seen in years
Football 101: Close look at rookie standout Devon Witherspoon
Huard on Seattle Seahawks: What stands out in each of three phases

Brandon Gustafson

Seattle Mariners Jorge Polanco...

Brandon Gustafson

Mariners are on pace to make MLB history — and not in a good way

After aiming to cut down on strikeouts, the Seattle Mariners are on a historically bad pace in that department this season.

2 months ago

Seattle Mariners...

Brandon Gustafson

Mariners struggle with new and similar problems in opening homestand

After a rocky 3-4 homestand to open the season, Brandon Gustafson dives into what's stood out for the Seattle Mariners to begin 2024.

2 months ago

Seattle Mariners George Kirby...

Brandon Gustafson

What’s the next step for Seattle Mariners’ George Kirby in 2024?

Scott Servais dove into what he's looking for from George Kirby in 2024 ahead of Kirby's first start of the year for the Seattle Mariners.

3 months ago

Seattle Mariners Mitch Haniger Dylan Moore...

Brandon Gustafson

Mariners Highs and Lows: What stands out from opening day loss

The Seattle Mariners fell to the Red Sox on opening day, and there were some takeaways – good and bad – to be had from the loss.

3 months ago

Seattle Mariners Julio Rodriguez...

Brandon Gustafson

Mariners Notebook: ‘Consistent pressure’ theme for lineup in 2024

Scott Servais expects big things from the Seattle Mariners' lineup in 2024, as he shared ahead of their opener against the Boston Red Sox.

3 months ago

Seattle Mariners Luke Raley...

Brandon Gustafson

Who 5 of Mariners’ biggest X-factors in 2024 are

The Seattle Mariners have starpower, but five other players can play key roles in the team's success in 2024, writes Brandon Gustafson.

3 months ago

Seahawks’ offense spoils big day by defense in loss to Bengals