Seahawks Instant Reaction: What happened in loss to Bengals?

Oct 15, 2023, 1:35 PM | Updated: 2:04 pm

Seattle Seahawks Pete Carroll...

Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll reacts during an Oct. 15, 2023 game against the Bengals. (Dylan Buell/Getty Images)

(Dylan Buell/Getty Images)

The Seattle Seahawks had a number of missed opportunities on Sunday as they fell 17-13 to the Bengals in Cincinnati.

Bengals 17, Hawks 13: Offense spoils D’s big day | Big Plays | Recap | Stats

With the loss, which featured not one but two turnovers on downs in the red zone late in the fourth quarter, the Seahawks drop to 3-2 on the season.

What stands out from the defeat? Just like after each Hawks game, we have the instant reactions of the voices of Seattle Sports below. Read what they have to say, and tune in all day Monday on 710 AM or the Seattle Sports app to hear even more analysis from our Seahawks insiders from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m., including The Pete Carroll Show with Seattle’s head coach live at 9:30 a.m.

Mike Salk – Brock and Salk (6-10 a.m.)

So much for taking the points.

Perhaps remembering his Pac-12 roots, Pete Carroll opted to go for it on fourth down in the red zone. No, I’m not talking about the final possession, but the one before it. Had he taken the points just before the two-minute warning, we might be having a different conversation today. But twice this weekend, a coach decided to be aggressive and just like it didn’t pay off Saturday for Oregon’s Dan Lanning against the UW Huskies, so too did it work against Carroll. There’s no way to know how things might have been different if the Seahawks had cut the deficit to one point, but it’s a whole lot easier to kick a late field goal than it is to get into the end zone.

I came away from this game believing the Seahawks and Bengals are pretty well matched. But in a league where a few plays change the game in either direction, the Bengals made one more than the Seahawks did, or at least made them at the right times and spots on the field. Lots of positives for the defense to build on, but this offense is going to need to take a long look in the mirror and figure out how it can get back to being the premier unit on this team.

Stacy Rost – Bump and Stacy (10 a.m. to 2 p.m.)

The Bengals weren’t exactly handing the game to the Seahawks, but it was about as close as you could get to it. Cincy’s defense allowed the Seahawks to move into the red zone five times — five! — including getting to the 11-yard line late on a deep pass to Tyler Lockett for what could have been a game-winning touchdown drive.

Alas, a Seahawks offense that entered the season with shiny new weapons and had weathered the loss of several starters on the offensive line fell flat. From those five trips, Seattle came out with just 10 points.

Here were the trips and the results:

CIN 1: Touchdown
CIN 18: Interception
CIN 5: Field goal
CIN 6: Downs (sacked for loss of 8)
CIN 9: Downs (incomplete pass)

Yes, there were times the Bengals’ defense locked receivers up. Seattle’s second-to-last drive left little options for quarterback Geno Smith before his drive-ending sack. But in a game where the defense met the moment after a shaky start, Seattle’s offense owed a better performance and didn’t deliver.

There’s plenty of blame to divvy around – from playcalling to protection to penalties – but as with any game in the NFL, it always comes down to the quarterback. This time, that feels fair. If Smith wants to be the guy for Seattle, he’ll need to come up clutch in more moments than he did on Sunday.

Bob Stelton – Wyman and Bob (2-7 p.m.)

The Seahawks opened this game with one of their most impressive drives of the season. The defense turned right around and gave up touchdowns on the Bengals’ first two possessions of the game.

Everything changed after that. The Hawks’ defense allowed just three points the rest of the game. Whatever adjustments the Seahawks’ D made after those first two Bengals possessions were outstanding.

The Hawks’ offense basically went to sleep after the opening TD drive, though. Seattle came away with two field goals and threw two interceptions the rest of the way.

Despite playing with backups once again, the offensive line did a pretty nice job of protecting Geno throughout the game. The problem was, Geno got in the habit of hanging on to the ball a bit too long, which ended up costing the Seahawks. Whether that’s on the receivers inability to gain separation or not, he’s got to get rid of the ball.

Bottom line, the defense kept the Hawks in the game and certainly played well enough to win. But when the offense goes 1 for 5 in the red zone and throws two interceptions on the day, that makes a road win even tougher than it already is.

Dave Wyman – Wyman and Bob/Seahawks Radio Network color commentator

Mike Lefko – Wyman and Bob

Only scoring 10 points on five red zone opportunities was the Seahawks’ undoing, especially in a game where the defense played so well.

Whether it was the strange struggles coming off the bye (the Seahawks are now 7-7 under Pete Carroll after a week off), the offensive line dealing with reshuffling of players, or Geno Smith just not playing well, the Seahawks turned in a rough offensive performance. Untimely penalties hamstrung red zone opportunities, and the two interceptions took away chances for the Seahawks to put together long drives.

The opening drive of the game seemed like a precursor for what was to come: Smith was 5 for 5, Kenneth Walker III ran the ball five times, and the Seahawks marched 75 yards down the field – taking over six minutes off the clock in the process. Yet, the offense never found that rhythm again, and the Bengals’ defense came with a good game plan (four sacks, 13 QB hits) that the Seahawks weren’t able to overcome.

It does take away from what was a terrific performance by the defense. After Bengals QB Joe Burrow finished the first half 18 of 22 for 143 yards and two touchdowns, the Seahawks held him to 6 of 13 for 42 yards, no touchdowns and an interception in the second half. For all the worry about how the defense would hold up against the Bengals’ passing offense, the questions after this one are on the other 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

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