The defense was good enough Sunday afternoon. Jadeveon Clowney is confident it will get better.

“I think we did OK,” the Seahawks star defensive end said following Seattle’s 21-20 victory over Cincinnati at CenturyLink Field. “We’ve got a lot of work to do. It’s only our first week being together like this and getting to know each other. I just got here. So we’re just trying to get guys lined up and learn what to do.

“We don’t want to peak now anyway. We’ve got a lot of football left. We’ll just keep working toward that.”

Acquired from the Houston Texans just last week, Clowney had one sack and one pass defended in his Seahawks debut. Seattle coach Pete Carroll acknowledged that Clowney played more than the Seahawks had anticipated — which became a necessity in a closer-than-anticipated season opener.

Seahawks 21, Bengals 20

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“He went a little more than we thought, but he was fine. He felt good about it,” Carroll said. “So we really knew we would have to play it by ear. I think he had 20-something snaps in the first half, which was not really the plan, but we were just out there so much because we didn’t get much (going) on offense at all.

“He’s 26 years old. He’s ready to go and all that. We’ll see. He’ll be pretty sore this week.”

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Clowney, who did not play in any preseason game during a contract dispute with Houston before his trade to Seattle, said he felt “a little rusty” in his first game back.

“I’m still learning this defense,” he said. “I learned most of it in five days, but still got a lot more learning to do.”

Clowney last played in Seattle in October 2017, when the Seahawks won an entertaining shootout, 41-38. He said he enjoyed his first game in a Seahawks uniform here.

“It’s crazy. This fan base, it’s the best I’ve ever been in front of,” he said. “When we were playing on the road here (with Houston), I’ve never heard a stadium this loud. To be a part of it now is even better.”

Ansah inactive

Ziggy Ansah, the other half of the Seahawks’ new pass-rushing duo, was inactive for his first game as a Seahawk.

The “questionable” designation more often than not means a player will play in the NFL — about two-thirds of the time.

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But for Ansah on Sunday, it meant he watched from the sideline as the Seahawks beat the Bengals.

Ansah went through an on-field workout about 2½ hours before the game, working with a trainer on pass-rush moves and other conditioning work. But it apparently was not enough to convince the team he was ready to return.

“He just wasn’t quite ready for this game,” Carroll said. “We are thinking long haul, and we’ll hope that next week will be the week. … We’ll keep our fingers crossed that he can play next time.”

Ansah was listed as questionable following practice Friday after he had initially not been on the team’s status report. He had not practiced until the week before the preseason finale against the Raiders while recovering from offseason shoulder surgery and then a calf injury.

Seattle’s other inactives yielded no real surprises as receivers Gary Jennings, John Ursua and David Moore were out as well as offensive lineman Joey Hunt, defensive end L.J. Collier and cornerback Parry Nickerson.

Ansah signed a one-year contract worth up to $9 million that includes $3 million in playing-time incentives. Specifically, Ansah receives $93,750 for every game he is on the 53-man active roster and for every game he is on the 46-man game-day active roster. So, the decision Sunday cost Ansah a little bit of money.

But the Seahawks obviously are playing it cautious with Ansah knowing that some really tough tests await the next few weeks — specifically, a trip to Pittsburgh next Sunday and a visit from Drew Brees and the Saints in two weeks.

Dissly, Ford, Thorpe leave with injuries

Three Seahawks left with injuries — cornerback Neiko Thorpe, defensive tackle Poona Ford and tight end Will Dissly — and it was unclear the severity for each.

Carroll said Dissly “got hit on the knee a little bit We have to see what that means.’’

It was the right knee, specifically, the same one on which Dissly suffered a patella tendon injury a year ago that ended his season in the fourth game. Dissly was walking normally through the locker room afterward, however.

Ford left with a calf injury that Carroll said “kind of tightened up.’’ He said it might have simply been cramps.

Thorpe had a hamstring injury.

Safety Ugo Amadi also was sidelined late in the second quarter when he was flattened by teammate Bradley McDougald. McDougald was trying to cover John Ross on a crossing route and said he just didn’t see Amadi. Amadi was down for a while but he said later he simply had the wind knocked out of him. He returned to the game later.

Pete Carroll throws his challenge flag Sunday.  (Dean Rutz / The Seattle Times)
Pete Carroll throws his challenge flag Sunday. (Dean Rutz / The Seattle Times)

Carroll challenged call ‘because I was pissed’

Carroll took advantage of a new NFL rule this season to challenge a pass interference penalty against Tre Flowers in the fourth quarter.

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The call gave Cincinnati a first-and-goal at the Seattle 4 with the Seahawks clinging to a 21-17 lead early in the fourth quarter. Flowers was called for interfering with Bengals receiver Damion Willis on a third-and-five play on which he knocked the ball down as it arrived. But the officials appeared to also rule that Flowers had an arm wrapped around Willis, or maybe simply hit him before the ball arrived.

Carroll rather dramatically lingered on the field for a few seconds with the flag in his hand before throwing it to levy an official challenge.

Coaches are now able to challenge pass interference calls — and non-calls — in the wake of the controversial ending to last year’s NFC Championship.

Carroll said later he threw the flag “because I was pissed and I did it. It wasn’t a good idea but I just wanted to prolong whatever. That wasn’t really the exact time you wanted to use it. I had my wits about me but at that point, I just didn’t care. I just wanted to compete and make them have to tell me that they did it wrong, and they didn’t do it. So anyway, that’s how it may go again. That could happen again.’’

Flowers said he didn’t think he interfered.

“Of course I didn’t think I had pass interference,’’ he said. “They called it and we balled out and they only got three points out of it.’’

Indeed, the Bengals were held to a field goal and cutting Seattle’s lead to 21-20 where it stayed.