For all the angst there is sure to be this week over how hard the Seahawks had to work to beat Cincinnati on Sunday — and given the high hopes for this team, some angst is more than expected — it’s also worth remembering some history.
Seattle, for better or worse, has almost always seemed to break slow out of the gate in the Pete Carroll era.
The 21-20 victory over the Bengals makes Seattle 1-0 for just the second time since 2014, the Seahawks losing road games to open the season in 2015, 2017 and 2018.
And the one win in that period? A sort-of-similar-looking 12-10 home victory over Miami in 2016.
That’s the hope, anyway, that this was just a game that’s how openers sometimes are and not a sign of things to come.
On to some grades.
It didn’t necessarily feel watching it live that Russell Wilson would finish with a 134.6 passer rating, higher than all but two games last season. But that’s also the beauty of Wilson these days — he’s smart enough to know how to make the most of what is there.
His 20 attempts were fewer than all but two games last season as the Bengals didn’t give him much time to throw, and there weren’t a lot of open receivers at times. But the throws that were there to be hit, Wilson hit, in contrast to counterpart Andy Dalton, who missed more than a few (as well as the weird fumble).
Maybe Wilson needs to keep it a little more on the zone-read plays — he had 8 yards rushing on four carries. But given the way the Bengals were hitting, being careful in Game One also makes sense.
And Seattle’s 3-1 edge in turnovers was aided greatly by Wilson’s carefulness with the ball.
There was not much room for the running backs, but Chris Carson made some on a few key plays, none bigger than the 21-yard gain on the second-to-last series to pick up a third-and-one that helped Seattle run out the clock.
Carson also had a nifty catch-and-run for a 10-yard touchdown in which he made two defenders miss who could have stopped him shy of the first down.
But Carson also had a fumble and a dropped pass (on which the Seahawks were bailed out due to a foolish personal-foul penalty).
Rashaad Penny didn’t do a whole lot, and somewhat surprisingly C.J. Prosise didn’t play on offense.
Will Dissly had one catch for 12 yards but then suffered a right knee injury that sidelined him in the second half — that could be pretty worrisome as that’s the same knee he injured last season. Nick Vannett had two catches. But the blocking at times seemed to leave something to be desired.
Give DK Metcalf an A-minus. It’s hard to ask for much more production than his 89 yards on four receptions. He appears on his way to being everything the team hoped for. But he also had two penalties (both declined), something he’ll need to clean up.
Otherwise, there was stunningly only two other targets to receivers — both to Tyler Lockett. One went for the winning touchdown from 44 yards. Lockett dropped the other, which would have been critical — it helped lead to a Seattle punt late in the fourth quarter — and it’s certainly a little eyebrow-raising that he struggled to be a bigger factor in his first game as the team’s acknowledged No. 1 receiver.
Duane Brown talked frankly afterward of how the line didn’t play to the team’s standards and has “to do better.’’ No argument here as the Bengals seemed to dominate play up front all day long. The Bengals are good up front, but as Brown said, Seattle is supposed to be good up front, too. Seattle won’t win often being pushed around the way it was Sunday.
There was a lot of good — holding the Bengals to 34 yards rushing and 2.4 per carry, a dominance that proved the difference on a few key possessions when Cincinnati was either stopped in Seattle territory or had to settle for field goals (give Al Woods a lot of credit for that).
And given that he was with a new team and had only one week to prepare, Jadeveon Clowney made the hoped-for impact with a sack and a pass defense, and Quinton Jefferson (two sacks) was great.
But the Seahawks are going to need to get more than four quarterback hits when the other team throws it 51 times, as the Bengals did. As Carroll said later, “The pass rush was kind of sporadic, but when we needed it, we had it.’’ That the Bengals got rid of it quickly lot also factored into the QB hits stat — all four were actually sacks, so at least the percentage was good. But lots of teams also throw it quick.
They are going to need it more against the Steelers, Saints and others coming up.
Give the run game an A. And there was a lot of sure tackling on all those short passes over the middle. But Mychal Kendricks appeared to get beaten by John Ross on the flea-flicker touchdown.
All those passing yards — 418 by Dalton– look really worrisome on paper.
The caveat is that Carroll said Seattle was willing to give up a lot of short ones as long as there were no long ones. The problem there is that there were a few long ones — Tedric Thompson’s misplay of the Ross 55-yard touchdown right before the half being the most notable.
“He just misjudged it,’’ Carroll said. “He left his feet too early. That should never have happened, obviously.’’
Tre Flowers’ pass interference late — controversial or not — also could have been a killer. The good news was some solid plays from Shaquill Griffin.
The Seahawks had little in returns but also allowed little, and forced a fumble on a punt at a time when the Bengals were threatening to take early command, thanks to a nice play from Ben Burr-Kirven. Punter Michael Dickson’s net of 42.8 yards was on par with his 42.5 of last season that set a team record. Cody Barton’s early running-into-the-punter penalty that kept a Bengals drive alive obviously can’t happen again.