Cincinnati's 34-12 win over the Seattle Seahawks was a combination of grit from the defense, capturing opportunities from the offense and spectacular play-making abilities on special teams. It was truly a combined effort by every player within every unit (except for maybe the pass coverage team) that pushed Cincinnati's league-wide reputation as the emerging Cinderella team this year. Further encouraging is that the league's record for teams coming off a bye week is horrendous, something that didn't affect the Bengals as greatly as other teams; especially considering the team won by 22 points. Before we move onto the next game, here's the game notes from last week. Remember that these are notes written on the fly (some posted as updates on Sunday), so the grammar police can take a smoke break.
Bengals Take A 3-0 Lead... The Cincinnati Bengals opened the game with a Bernard Scott run from their own 26-yard line, picking up one yard on the pitch to the left. Andy Dalton followed that up with another handoff to Scott, bouncing around inside a mass of humanity, picking up an additional three yards setting up third-and-six from their own 30-yard line. Dalton slings a third down pass towards the left hashmarks to a waiting Andre Caldwell, picking up eight yards and the first down.
Then things got a little crazy.
As the Bengals called a time out, Brandon Browner and wide receiver Jerome Simpson conducted a little after hours business, resulting in a 15-yard personal foul on Browner. The penalty negated Andrew Whitworth's offensive holding on Chris Clemons on the prior play. A neutral zone infraction on Chris Clemons later and Andy Dalton faked the handoff, scrambling right. After dumping off the pass into the flats for Chris Pressley, who exploded over a tackler for a first down, Bernard Scott followed that up with an 11-yard push off the left edge.
Eventually the Bengals setup with a third-and-five from the Seahawks 30-yard line. Dalton stood in the pocket, hopping in the pocket before scrambling to the right, finding Brian Leonard near the right numbers, fighting off a tackle and recording a first down to the Seahawks 24-yard line.
Cincinnati's lengthy opening drive eventually stalled. Bernard Scott was dropped for a two-yard loss on first down, followed by a false start on Andre Smith setting up a second-and-17 from the 31-yard line. Dalton flipped a pass to Andre Caldwell near the right sidelines, picking up 10 yards and setting up a third-and-seven. Kyle Cook snaps the football in shotgun, Dalton again scrambles to his right, hits A.J. Green sliding towards the right sidelines and falls about two yards short of the first down marker.
Mike Nugent comes in and converts the 34-yard field to give the Bengals a 3-0 lead. Cincinnati's opening drive went 13 plays for 58 yards in 8:16.
Bengals Take 10-0 Lead... After a Marshawn Lynch two-yard gain, dropped at the line of scrimmage (but strong enough to pick up two yards after contact), Charlie Whitehurst is forced to dump off the pass to Sidney Rice on a crossing pattern that forced Rice to dive for the completion. Whitehurst was eventually sacked by Geno Atkins on third down, forcing the Seahawks to punt. Punter Jon Ryan crushed the football 65 yards to the Bengals 11-yard line. That's what we call, changing field position.
Adam Jones had other ideas.
After hauling in the punt, Jones exploded up the middle before shifting towards the left sidelines, returning the punt 63 yards to the Seahawks 35-yard line. Bernard Scott's number is called for consecutive runs to the left, picking up 12 yards and the first down. On first-and-ten from the Seahawks 14-yard line, Dalton drops back and finds Jerome Simpson on the right against man coverage. The slant pattern put him in a position to box out the defender, hauling in the 14-yard touchdown reception to give the Bengals a 10-0 lead.
Seahawks Are On The Board, Bengals Lead 10-3... With 3:41 remaining in the first quarter, Whitehurst launches a pass deep down the middle of the field into triple-coverage. Reggie Nelson, as the pass floats down, puts his hands up and apparently his case of amnesia included the art of catching an easy interception. It also included Nelson's understanding that after blowing up a potential blocker, you shouldn't redouble your effort while the guy is on the ground, forcing the officials to throw a 15-yard personal foul penalty. Manny Lawson, unblocked on the following play, collided with Marshawn Lynch, dropping the running back for a one-yard loss with an explosive amount of testosterone.
After Zach Miller caught a 17-yard pass to give the Seahawks the first down, combined with another first down reception by Sidney Rice, Chris Crocker came off the edge with 1:28 left in the first quarter at the Bengals 33-yard line, sacking Whitehurst for a five-yard loss. With :23 seconds remaining, Whitehurst attempted a hail mary into the endzone on third-and-nine that fell incomplete. The Bengals still accepted Seattle's offensive holding penalty that pushed them back to third-and-19. Whitehurst completed a 13-yard pass to the Bengals 29-yard line, well short of the first down, but three yards closer towards the end zone.
Steven Hauschka converted the 47-yard line-drive field goal to put the Seahawks on the board on the first play of the second quarter.
The Andy Dalton Fumble Drive... With 14:51 left in the second quarter, Andy Dalton faked the handoff and looked to his his left on a bubble screen that was well covered. Dalton fake pumped the football anyway, losing it on his follow-through, fumbling it and eventually recovering at the Bengals one-yard line. Officials came in and judged it as the tuck rule, calling it incomplete. After Brian Leonard's three-yard run to the left, Dalton scrambled out to the left, picking up three yards out of bounds. Bengals punt.
Bengals Offense Goes Into Self-Destruct Mode... Charlie Whitehurst's afternoon appears to be over, even though he completed four of six passes for 52 yards passing. That being said of the three possessions he quarterbacked, the Seahawks went three-and-out twice and converted a field goal to keep their score differential to within a touchdown. Tarvaris Jackson comes into the game and the crowd is pleased. Jackson attempts to handoff the football to Marshawn Lynch and the football is fumbled, recovered by Cincinnati's Gibril Wilson on Seattle's 31-yard line. The crowd is not pleased one bit.
It wouldn't matter.
Cincinnati's offense is clearly within their zone to struggle inside the second and third quarters, having already posted consecutive three-and-out possessions. Andre Smith and Bobbie Williams were called for offensive holdings, pushing the Bengals offense into a first-and-30 situation back to their own 49-yard line. Dalton did pick up nine yards on first down, finding A.J. Green near the right sidelines before both teams called time outs. On second down, with four receivers in formation, Dalton drops back and connects with Bernard Scott on a screen that was sniffed out and dropped for a one-yard gain.
The possession mercifully comes to an end after Dalton caught the shotgun snap he wasn't ready for, bouncing the hot potato before securing it and scrambling to the right. Dalton tried to connect with A.J. Green, who dropped the football well short of the first down marker. Cincinnati started their possession at Seattle's 31-yard line and when it was all said and done, they punted from the 41.
Bengals Take 17-3 Lead With A.J. Green's 43-Yard Touchdown Reception... The Cincinnati Bengals front seven is playing with fire this afternoon, especially against the run. With 7:10 remaining in the second quarter, from the Seattle 19-yard line, Seahawks quarterback Tarvaris Jackson hands off to Marshawn Lynch on a stretch-like play to the right. Manny Lawson blew threw any attempted block and collided with Lynch deep in the backfield. Domata Peko ended the play, along with five or six defensive players, ripping off Lynch's helmet for a three-yard loss. On the following play Lynch goes up the middle, dances in the backfield for a good three seconds before deciding to push up the middle, colliding with Peko and Carlos Dunlap for a no-gain. What was really impressive was Michael Johnson, who didn't crash down the line of scrimmage. Rather he stood his ground as the right defensive end, waiting for any redirection and securing the edge in case Lynch bounced it outside. The Seahawks running back posted zero yards rushing on his first seven carries in the game. Zach Miller dropped the third down pass, forcing the Seahawks to punt.
Cincinnati's drive eventually stalled with just over three minutes remaining in the first half. After a one-yard loss on a screen pass to the left and overthrow to Brian Leonard, the Bengals setup from their own 48-yard line on third-and-11. Dalton dumps off the pass with a tight end screen to Donald Lee, who manages to read his blocks and pick up the first down to Seattle's 38-yard line on the 14-yard reception.
Two minute warning.
And before the first play can take place, Andre Smith rocked backwards slightly, giving the Bengals a five-yard penalty to the Seahawks 43-yard line. Dalton fakes the handoff and launches the football down the middle of the field with A.J. Green easily separated beyond the defensive secondary. Green hauled in the over-the-shoulder reception for a 43-yard touchdown giving the Bengals a 17-3 lead.
Seahawks End First Half On One-Yard Line... With 1:44 remaining in the first half, the Seattle Seahawks moved the football with an expiring clock and a Bengals defense that appeared to play a softer zone coverage, allowing mostly anything underneath but negating the deep pass. Even Ben Obomanu's 32-yard reception was mostly a short pass that became a big gain because the coverage didn't translate into tackles. Eventually the Seahawks were left with 14 seconds remaining, no time outs on fourth and two from the Bengals three-yard line.
Rather than kicking the field goal to reduce their deficit to 11 points, Pete Carroll decides to go for it. Out of shotgun, Tarvaris Jackson hands off to Marshawn Lynch, who dives beyond the first down marker and tries to reach the end zone. He didn't make it.
With no way to stop the clock as it expires, the first half ends without the Seahawks picking up any points in a very unusual call as we head into half time. Unusual in that I'm kind of glad he made that call.
Both Teams Punt To Start The Second Half... After winning the coin toss before the game started and electing to defer, the Seahawks choose to receive the football to open the second half. And the Seahawks obviously wanted to throw the football, forcing Tarvaris Jackson attempts on six consecutive passes with only two completed, including a 13-yard third down reception by tight end Cameron Morrah, picking up the first down. Back-to-back incomplete passes later, compounded by a James Carpenter false start, the Seahawks lined up at their own 40-yard line on third-and-15. Jackson takes the shotgun snap with an empty field, under-throwing the football well behind Sidney Rice down the right sidelines for an incomplete pass, forcing the Seahawks to punt.
The Bengals offense didn't respond with a much greater impression of progression, after consecutive touches (rush, reception) to Bernard Scott, the Bengals needed nine yards to convert a third down. Quarterback Andy Dalton was sacked. Bengals punt on their first possession of the second half.
Big Tackle By Brandon Johnson Crushes Seahawks Drive... Now with both teams establishing themselves as ineffective offenses to start the second half with an exchange of punts, the Seahawks begin their second possession of the second half from their own 43-yard line. A Marshawn Lynch four-yard run, followed with soft coverage on Michael Robinson by Leon Hall, gave the Seahawks another first down to the Bengals 42-yard line.
Though it feels like the Seahawks are gaining momentum, they actually wouldn't pick up another first down on the possession, thanks to the fire and will-power by the Bengals defense as the Seahawks offense establishes from the Bengals 33-yard line on third and one. Seattle's quarterback Tarvaris Jackson hands off to Marshawn Lynch while Brandon Johnson explodes through the line of scrimmage, dropping the running back three yards short of the line of scrimmage, forcing the Seahawks to punt.
Andy Dalton Throws Interception On Pass To A.J. Green... Following a Bernard Scott one-yard loss with 7:55 remaining in the third quarter, Andy Dalton flips the football to Andrew Hawkins during an end around from right to left. The wide receiver and special teams specialist tip toed down the left sidelines, picking up six yards, just before falling out of bounds. From their own 25-yard line, Dalton takes the third down snap and slings it down the middle of the field to Donald Lee's vertical route, picking up 26 yards for the first down.
Bernard Scott picks up another six yards and Andy Dalton overthrows A.J. Green, setting up a third down with four yards needed from the Seahawks 43-yard line. A middle screen to running back Brian Leonard, complete with all of the will in the world, fighting through tackles and picking up the first down.
Two plays later Andy Dalton drops back and unleashes a deep pass down the right sidelines for A.J. Green. Cornerback Richard Sherman, covering Green's inside, hauls in the football uncontested for the interception. Note to Green: It's perfectly alright to commit an offensive pass interference if the defense is on-track to catch the football. A penalty is always better than a turnover.
Bengals Withstand Seattle Seahawks Offensive Assault... On the first play following Andy Dalton's sixth career interception late in the third quarter, Tarvaris Jackson drops back and rainbows the football down the left sidelines. Ben Obomanu sprints past Leon Hall, who appeared to slow as he turned around for a quarterback status update, not believing the passer would target his receiver. Obomanu hauls in the 55-yard reception. Following a quarterback run to the left for two yards (appeared like a broken play), Marshawn Lynch picked up nine yards off the right edge, giving him 14 yards on the afternoon at this point. Jackson connected with Sidney Rice on a bubble screen to the left, pushing Seattle into the Red Zone.
Lynch was drilled at the line of scrimmage on first down, forced to bounce outside but finding no room for a limited one-yard gain. After a bubble screen to the right for a two-yard gain, Jackson scrambles out to the left and lofts a pass towards the back of the end zone for Sidney Rice, falling out of bounds with the reception but failing to keep his feet in bounds. Steven Hauschka converts the 25-yard field goal, reducing Seattle's deficit to 11 points.
Andy Dalton Throws Second Interception Of The Game... With 14:22 remaining in the fourth quarter, Andy Dalton takes the third down snap from shotgun at their own 26-yard line. On a beautifully timed route with Andre Caldwell coming out of the slot, Dalton hits his wide receiver on a quick out pattern for a nine-yard gain and the first down, moving down the field and consuming clock.
Bernard Scott picks up another 14 yards down the left sidelines, dodging tacklers and reading his blocks, his biggest gain of the afternoon. An incomplete pass and limited three-yard Scott run later, Andy Dalton chucks the football down the right sidelines for A.J. Green, streaking down the right sidelines with double-coverage. The football was deflected and intercepted by Kam Chancellor to end the possession.
Marshawn Lynch Scores Two-Yard Touchdown, Reducing Cincinnati's Lead To Five Points... On third-and-11 from Seattle's 20-yard line with 11:27 remaining in the fourth quarter, Doug Baldwin fights off a Kelly Jennings jam at the line of scrimmage, who lost his balance, creating natural separation between the cornerback and the receiver. Quarterback Tarvaris Jackson leads the receiver down the right sidelines for a 31-yard gain. On the following play Jackson purposefully under-throws Sidney Rice down the left sidelines, forcing the receiver to slow his route and redirect towards the floater for another 35-yard gain. After Golden Tate's nine-yard reception over the middle, the Seahawks were within Cincinnati's five yard line.
Marshawn Lynch got the call, taking the handoff off the left edge, stepping out of bounds at the Bengals two-yard line. While Leon Hall made the touchdown-saving tackle, Lynch got the call on the following play and walked into the end zone untouched for the touchdown. The Seahawks attempted the two-point conversion, failing on a floater towards the right sidelines in the end zone that was wrestled incomplete by the Bengals.
Still the Bengals are barely holding onto the lead, 17-12.
Mike Nugent Converts The 48-Yard Field Goal, Giving The Bengals An Eight-Point Lead... Now with the Bengals barely holding onto a 17-12 lead with roughly nine minutes remaining in the game, Brandon Tate takes the ensuing kickoff following Marshawn Lynch's two-yard touchdown. Rather than running east to west, choosing a more northerly direction, Tate followed and read his blocks, picking up 45 yards on the return to the Bengals 38-yard line. A defensive hold later and Bernard Scott explodes for a 16-yard gain off the left edge, putting the Bengals back on Seattle's side of the field with 7:55 remaining in the game. Cincinnati received another first down two plays later after the Seahawks were flagged for illegal contact with just over seven minutes remaining in the game.
At this point the Bengals appear willing to kill the clock and push inside of Mike Nugent's range, giving Bernard Scott the ball on the following two plays,. Third and ten with under five minutes remaining in the game, Andy Dalton takes the shotgun snap and scrambles to his left. Just as the pass rush was coming down on Dalton, the quarterback found and completed a four-yard pass to Andre Caldwell to the Seahawks 30-yard line.
Mike Nugent converted the 48-yard field goal to give the Bengals a 20-12 lead, up by eight points which will force the Seahawks to convert a two-point play to tie at this point.
Brandon Tate 56-Yard Punt Return For Touchdown... Once Mike Nugent sealed his 48-yard field goal to give the Bengals an eight-point lead, the Seattle Seahawks offensive momentum stalled big time. A poor Tarvaris pass to Doug Baldwin just beyond his reach, followed with a limited one-yard gain, sets up a third-and-nine from the Seahawks own 16-yard line with 4:03 remaining in the game. And after owning his blocker as Chuck Norris would a two-year old, Carlos Dunlap dropped Jackson with a nine-yard loss, recording his first quarterback sack of the season.
And then things went awesome.
Jon Ryan punted the football 49 yards to the Bengals 44-yard line where Brandon Tate hauled in the punt. Avoiding hitters, tacklers and bad guys with villainous grins, Tate returns the football 56 yards into the end zone for a touchdown, giving the Bengals a 27-12 lead. It's the first punt return for a touchdown since Peter Warrick's return against the Kansas City Chiefs in 2003.
And just to put the icing on the cake, Reggie Nelson returns a pick-six.