Monday, September 24, 2007
It started nicely enough thanks to Josh Wilson returning the opening kickoff for 72 yards. The Seahawk offense was in a great position, obviously, and they were in the end zone on the third play from scrimmage. There would be no slow start for the Seahawk offense in this game.
Of course, the Seahawk defense responded by letting the Bengals convert on all four of their third downs on the ensuing possession. The fourth third-down conversion was Carson Palmer's 35-yarder to TJ Houshmandzadeh down the right sideline. The NFL.com video reel has the Cincinnati radio team calling that highlight, and the color guy mentions that the Seahawks rushed three guys and put eight back into coverage and they still blew the assignment on Houshmandzadeh. So while it was nice that the Seahawks jumped out to a quick lead, the Bengals chewed up the next 7:13 of clock and marched 83 yards to the end zone on 14 plays.
The ensuing kickoff featured a special teams yucky moment, but the Seahawks recovered. Even better, the Seahawk offense converted on their first two third downs. The bad thing is that they didn't convert on third down number three, which left them on the Cincinnati 34-yard line. Mike Holmgren didn't want to gamble the possibility of a missed field goal giving the Bengals great field position this early in the game, so Josh Brown was not trotted out for what would have been a 51- or 52-yard field goal attempt.
Then came the Houshmandzadeh fumble followed two plays later by the tipped Matt Hasselbeck pass that was intercepted. Not cool. A little too rollercoastery. With the Bengals at their own 32, the defense could have really come through with a three-and-out and put the offense in a nice position. Instead, Palmer was able to connect with passes of 20 and 18 on the first two plays of the drive to put the Bengals well within Shayne Graham's field-goal range. Luckily the Seahawk defense was able to bend and give three points instead of break and give seven.
With that, the Seahawks stalled on both of their next two drives. With just over three minutes left in the half, the Bengals had just gotten the ball when Palmer threw deep down the right sideline to Houshmandzadeh, but Deon Grant had it played perfectly, catching the ball and managing to get two feet inbound before falling out of bounds. Thankfully, the Seahawks were quick to cash in on the turnover and were in the end zone three plays later, partly thanks to an unnecessary roughness penalty on the defense.
Thusly, the Seahawks took that 14-10 lead into halftime.
The Bengals converted twice on third down out of the gate after halftime, but this time it was their turn to have a drive stall on the fringe of field goal range. The problem was that the Seahawks were on the bad end of a well-placed punt, and started the next possession two yards from their own end zone. They were six yards from their own end zone on second down when Hasselbeck was sacked in the end zone.
Thanks to the safety, the Bengals got the two points on the board and got nice field position, especially since Ryan Plackemeier's free kick wasn't the best free kick. Luckily, on 3rd-and-16 from the Seattle 44, Palmer went for the home run and overthrew, and Brian Russell came down with the ball in the end zone. Unfortunately for Seattle, the best the offense could do to cash this in was to get near midfield to make the field position game a little more advantageous. Wouldn't you know it, the Bengals did the exact same thing back. Though they did convert twice on third down during the ensuing possession, they stalled, leaving them on their own 46 with a yard to go, and they punted it away.
Four plays later, the Seahawks had 2nd-and-13 from near midfield, and that's when the weirdness ensued. The pass to Nate Burleson down the left sideline appeared to be caught, though Jonathan Joseph was draped onto him. Somehow the ball came down and bounced off a body, then it was run back across the midfield stripe.
At this point, Kenny Watson started to get something going for the Cincy ground game, starting the drive off with a four-yard run and gashing up the Seattle defense for 14 more on a first down. Incredibly, the Seahawk defense had a not-quite goal-line stand as the Bengals had a full set of downs to work with and only needed to get five yards to hit paydirt. Instead, the Bengals had to settle for a field goal and a one-point lead at 15-14.
Oddly, starting with that Cincy field goal, the teams went back and forth scoring points, trading field goals, then trading touchdowns.
One thing that helped the Seahawks fire back with a field goal was a Deltha O'Neal major facemask penalty that turned a 16-yard Engram pass into a 28-yard play. Still, with just 11 yards to get to the end zone, the Seahawks had that drive stall and settled for a field goal.
The Bengals started from their own 32 but went down the field quickly, starting with an end-around play with Houshmandzadeh that got five yards, but then got two quick pass plays for 35 more yards that got the Bengals to within field goal range. Then Kenny Watson covered the final 30 yards to the end zone by himself, taking four plays to do so. The Bengals blew the two-point conversion and led 21-17 as a result.
From there, I'll just say it was refreshing to see the offense succeed in crunch time this week where they didn't last week. A big pass play to Burleson moved the chains once, then Deion Branch made the catch to force a 4th-and-1. Though the Seahawk running game had stalled for most of the game, this fourth down luckily wasn't one of them, as Shaun Alexander followed Mack Strong on the right side and got 14 yards. Then, a perfectly thrown ball from Hasselbeck to Burleson near the left pylon led him to the end zone, and the Seahawks led 24-21.
The big plays weren't done there, since Lance Laury still had to force a fumble on a kickoff. When do the Seahawks ever do that? Anyway, that secured the win, and that was good.
This is the first sort-of game post I've done in a while, and I'm not sure how satisfied I am with it. I just cranked it out, that's all.
All's I know is that next week's Seahawks/49ers game is absolutely huge and the Seahawks can't afford to be losing any more divisional games.
I also know that the Seahawks are two games up on an 0-3 Saint Louis Rams team, and that's a beautiful thing.
Sunday, September 23, 2007
Cincinnati BENGALS at Seattle SEAHAWKS, 1:05p (CBS)
Hopefully it won't be worse than last week. I guess it could be, since the Bengals have the potential to put up way more points than the Cardinals. Of course, the good news is that the Bengals' defense gave up a truckload of points to the Cleveland Browns last week.
In short, there are things in this game that we have to find out are either true trends or aberrations. The biggest one is finding out which Seahawk defense is the real one. Is it the one that showed up in the opener against Tampa Bay? I hope it's closer to that than the abomination we saw last week. On the Cincinnati side, their fans surely are hoping the entire game against the Browns last week is an aberration since their defense gave up all those points. Back to the Seahawks, one can only hope their offense can get into sync a whole lot earlier -- they need something closer to 60 minutes of good football than 20 or 30 minutes.
I'm not going to pretend I know what's going to happen in this 49ers/Steelers game, but I just want the Seahawks to be tied for the division lead at the end of the day. Extra bonus if the Rams are 0-3. That'd be beautiful, but I'm more concerned about the former than the latter.