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Bengals vs. Seahawks: 6 winners and 6 losers in Cincinnati’s 21-20 defeat

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John Ross and the defense came to play, folks.

Cincinnati Bengals v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

Well, they covered the spread, but the Bengals just fell short to kickoff the the 2019 season against the Seahawks. To say it was a gusty performance isn’t giving the away team enough credit, and you could tell there was a renewed energy for Cincinnati.

On the road in a venue where the home team rarely loses around this time of the year, a one-point loss isn’t the end of the world. There were just as many positives to take away from this game as there were negatives, and this week’s winners and losers reflects that perfectly.

Winners

John Ross III: Holy Hell what a roller coaster ride. With a touchdown already under his belt for the day, Ross dropped an easy ball with acres of open turf ahead, potentially keeping the Bengals out of field goal range.

Mere seconds later, Ross more than made up for his mistake.

With his team-high 12 targets, Ross hauled in seven receptions for 156 yards and two scores. The insane stat of the game? That yardage was about 75% of his 2018 total.

Yes, the drops are annoying and they might not ever go away, but if this is the potential trade off, Ross’s contributions will be more than worth it.

Andy Dalton: No running game? No problem. Dalton doesn’t normally throw the ball over 40 times, none the less 50 times, but his 418 yards and two touchdowns on 35-51 passing kept the offense moving while the run blocking disappointed. His third-quarter fumble was bad, but it didn’t result in any points for Seattle. Ultimately, his second half was underwhelming, but he proved that he can generate offense without Green in the lineup under this new offense.

Giovani Bernard: As a runner, Bernard dealt with the same issues as Joe Mixon (21 yards on seven carries), but when used in the screen game, Bernard gave the offense a needed boost. He took two of them for a total of 42 yards. He also had a few critical blitz pickups as well.

Carlos Dunlap and Sam Hubbard: Not many other Bengals players have been praised more this offseason than Hubbard, and all that hype seems to have been validated today. An issue coming into this game was how the defense could integrate Carl Lawson onto the field more. Dunlap and Hubbard absolutely popping off eased those concerns early and often. The duo recorded 10 solo tackles, four tackles for loss and three sacks, creating havoc for Russell Wilson all game long.

Preston Brown: Along with Hubbard and Dunlap, the Bengals’ defense was playing with a noticeable effort, and Brown’s forced fumble to open the second half was indicative of that. Brown and the rest of the linebackers looked much better playing their run fits and finishing tackles.

Losers

Alex Erickson: There were a bunch of wacky things in this game, and Erickson’s punt return fumble was the event that kickstarted it all. He stepped up as a receiver when called upon (28 yards on four receptions) but he cannot afford mistakes on special teams.

Michael Jordan: Cincinnati’s offensive line held up for most of the game, but Jordan had some notable lapses in his first career start. He allowed second quarter sack and didn’t hold up very well in run blocking, which was a problem for the rest of the line. These issues where expected for Jordan, but they need to get cleaned up soon.

Dre Kirkpatrick: It’s safe to say Kirkpatrick was responsible for the Seahawks’ second touchdown of the game. His personal foul penalty was followed by a missed tackle that resulted in a score just four plays later.

Jessie Bates III: Yikes that blown coverage was bad. Bates had left game in the third quarter for about a play and returned to the field only to give up a 44-yard touchdown to Tyler Lockett. His critical miscue put the Bengals down by a deficit that they would not recover from.

Joe Mixon: We’re still not sure what the status of Mixon’s injury is, but it was simply not a good day for the third-year running back. 10 yards off of six carries before leaving the game with an ankle injury sums up a disappointing 2019 debut for No. 28, despite the dreadful blocking in front of him. Hopefully his injury isn’t too serious.

Randy Bullock: “Under 50-yards, Bullock is a great kicker.” Well, Bullock’s 45-yard missed field goal was the difference in the game, and for a team that was 2-5 in close games last season, Bullock needs to hit the ones he’s expected to make if they’re going to win these close games.