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Bend But Don't Break: Bengals Defense Stepped Up When They Had To

During Cincinnati's 34-12 win over the Seahawks, Seattle's offense posted 411 yards; most allowed by the Bengals defense this year behind Denver's 318 yards. It dropped Cincinnati's rankings from second to fifth overall with a possibility of improving to fourth based on San Diego's performance against the Kansas City Chiefs during Monday Night Football. Tarvaris Jackson and Charlie Whitehurst combined for 350 yards passing; easily besting the previous-high of 202 yards passing against the Cleveland Browns in week one. The Seahawks offense generated 20 first downs; most since Denver recorded 19 in week two. Whereas the Seahawks posted 159 more yards than the Cincinnati Bengals, the good guys still won by 22 points.

Largely thanks to Cincinnati's fourth quarter special teams play and a pick-six by Reggie Nelson to (really) seal the Bengals win, the game in reality was much more closer with anxious Bengals fans breathing into brown paper bags inside the fourth quarter. Tarvaris Jackson fell 15 yards shy of tying a career high in passing yards. Two receivers posted 100 yards passing or more and one of those receivers, Ben Obomanu generated his second-best performance in his career.

Yet while the Bengals defense bent plenty against the will of the Seahawks passing game, they never broke.

During Seattle's second possession of the game, Reggie Nelson dropped an easy Charlie Whitehurst interception, following that up with a 15-yard personal foul penalty. Tight end Zach Miller posted a 17-yard reception. Sidney Rice pushed Seattle's offense to the Bengals 33-yard line on a 15-yard grab. Thankfully Chris Crocker dropped Whitehurst for a quarterback sack, largely stalling Seattle's productive possession into a converted 47-yard field goal.


With 1:44 remaining in the game following A.J. Green's epic 43-yard touchdown reception, the Seattle Seahawks drove down the field starting from their own 35-yard line. Cincinnati's defense played soft, allowing a 32-yard reception to Ben Obomanu, 21-yarder to Doug Baldwin and a 13-yard reception by Justin Forsett catch that eventually set up a fourth-and-two from the Bengals three-yard line with only 14 seconds remaining in the first half.

Rather than attempting a field goal that would bring Seattle to within 11 points, Tarvaris Jackson sets up in shotgun with Marshawn Lynch beside him. Lynch takes the handoff and converts the fourth down, stopped inches short of the goalline thanks to a timely Reggie Nelson stick. By the time the mass of humanity pulled away from the pile, which tends to happen during goalline runs, the clock expired and the Cincinnati Bengals not only prevented a touchdown from their own three-yard line, Seattle failed to score entirely.

After the game Seahawks head coach said:

"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. That was a mistake."

Indeed. Yet it was a mistake because the Bengals defense didn't break. Sure they bent to holy hell on the journey towards the end zone but never opened up the opportunity to score a touchdown.


Fast forward to the 1:36 mark in the third quarter. Jackson and Obomanu hooked up on a 55-yard reception a handful of plays prior to Seattle's entry into the red zone. Marshawn Lynch bounced outside towards the left sidelines on first-and-goal from the Bengals ten-yard line, largely because Pat Sims redirected Lynch by penetrating the line of scrimmage.

Seattle's running back failed to turn the corner with Dan Skuta dropping Lynch for a limited one-yard gain. Golden "God I love Krispie Kremes" Tate's two-yard reception on second down quickly ended after Reggie Nelson sprinted towards the wide receiver and dropping him as quickly as the reception was made. Jackson failed to hook up with Sidney Rice on third down, forcing Seattle to settle for a chip-shot 25-yard field goal.


Eventually the Seahawks would reach the end zone in the fourth quarter, converting the possession into a two-yard touchdown run by running back Marshawn Lynch.

After that the Seahawks were never really a threat, especially due to Carlos Dunlap's constant harassment of Tarvaris Jackson, which included his first quarterback sack this season. Frostee Rucker also forced Jackson out of the game on the following possession, bringing Whitehurst momentarily back into the game to throw an incomplete pass.

Three plays into Seattle's second-to-last possession, Jackson was picked off by Reggie Nelson, who returned it 75 yards for a touchdown.

Cincinnati's defense was typically strong, save for a handful of big passing plays. Yet when it counted, when Seattle was a threat to score, save for one touchdown, the Bengals defense once again stepped up.