SEATTLE - Style points don’t matter, especially in Week 1. The Seattle Seahawks are 1-0, and the rest is immaterial. The Seahawks made just enough plays on both sides of the ball in order to beat the Cincinnati Bengals, 21-20, on Sunday at CenturyLink Field.
Seattle’s defense was saved by forcing three takeaways. Pete Carroll said the group “rope-a-doped a bit” on Sunday in reference to allowing 429 yards to the Bengals.
Carroll was also quick to call out Quinton Jefferson. The fourth-year defensive lineman posted six tackles, two tackles for loss, two sacks, three quarterback hits and two passes defended.
“He had a terrific game today – definitely the best game he’s had for us,” Carroll said. “We needed every bit of it.”
Added defensive captain Bobby Wagner:
He did an amazing job. He had two sacks, a couple TFLs and batted balls down. He did a great job.
Jefferson posted just three sacks all of last season. He knew Sunday provided a huge opportunity with Jarran Reed serving a suspension and Ezekiel Ansah out of the lineup.
“It was a good day. I was just working hard and trying to make plays as they came,” Jefferson said. “I feel like I can play on a Pro Bowl level, and that’s what I want to continue to do.”
The defensive line was stout overall, registering five sacks and limiting the Bengals to just 34 yards rushing on 2.4 yards per carry.
“We’re just trying to live in the backfield and make plays,” Jefferson said. “Hopefully we got that done today.”
Seattle’s pressure on Dalton, as Carroll noted postgame, was sporadic. Andy Dalton carved up the Seahawks secondary for 418 yards and two touchdowns on 35-of-51 passing. Both scores came late in the first half on throws to John Ross. The first was a 33-yarder off a flea flicker, and the second was a 55-yard bomb down the middle of the field.
Each could have been prevented. Seattle bit on the trick play which made for an easy pitch and catch from Dalton to Ross. The second was even worse from a Seahawks standpoint. Just before halftime, Dalton’s deep ball seemed to hang in the air forever, and Tedric Thompson was right there to make a play on it. The safety could have intercepted the pass, but it should have been broken up at the very least. Instead, Thompson mistimed his jump as the ball made its way into Ross’ hands.
“We’ve just got to play better in the pass game,” Wagner said before offering a vote of confidence for Thompson.
The win helps soothe any potential overreactions from the opener. Wagner knows that perspective is important as the team looks to gel early in the season. Bengals first-year head coach Zac Taylor did a nice job keeping Seattle’s defense guessing throughout. A disciple of Sean McVay, Wagner noted that Taylor’s offense featured much more 12 personnel (one running back and two tight ends) than what the Seahawks see with the Los Angeles Rams (who run primarily out of 11 personnel). Taylor did a nice job dialing up successful screen passes to the tight ends.
It wasn’t seamless, but Seattle navigated the unknowns and still managed a win. Besides, even an ugly victory to start the year is markedly better than the Seahawks 0-2 start in 2018. That’s all you can ask for as far as Wagner is concerned.
“Just be positive,” Wagner said of the team’s mindset. “Understand this is Game 1 of a 16-game season. It’s a long season.”