The Seattle Seahawks went on a road trip to Cincinnati, to face the undefeated Bengals. The storyline was the No. 2 defense of the Seahawks against the second-ranked offense of the Bengals. In a match more suited to be a heavyweight prizefight, the Bengals (5-0) outlasted Seattle (2-3) 27-24 in overtime.
Trying to rewrite history, the Bengals came out of the gate, firing on all cylinders. Once again, Andy Dalton looked sharp as he drove the Bengals downfield. A blown coverage by the Seahawks eventually led to a 14-yard touchdown strike to Tyler Eifert. The kick was good and Cincinnati went up 7-0 on the NFC champions.
The Seahawks never go away that easily.
Russell Wilson and the Seahawks played the script perfectly. Taking over at their 20-yard line, Wilson led the Seahawks on an eight play 80-yard drive. The Hawks took the Bengals punch and answered with a touchdown of their own. Score tied 7-7. The game looked like it would be the toe-to-toe heavyweight title fight fans and analysts were expecting.
The Bengals and Seahawks traded possessions. But it looked as if the Bengals offensive line was starting to tire under the pressure of the Seattle defense. The first quarter ended in a tie and the defensive struggle was on. At the end of the first half, the Bengals tried to take the lead. Dalton had marched the troops to the Seattle 21-yard line. With 1:14 left to play, Dalton thought he saw an open A.J. Green streaking down the left side. Playoff Andy made and appearance and he floated the pass to Green. The bad pass was promptly picked off by Earl Thomas. That set up a go-ahead field goal for the Seahawks.
The first half ended with Seattle leading 10-7.
That’s when the game turned into a nightmare for the Bengals. The Seahawks suddenly realized that they were the defending NFC champs and started to play up to the billing. The Seahawks looked to be in good shape after scoring a pair touchdowns during a 2-minute span of the third quarter. Undrafted rookie running back Thomas Rawls ran 69 yards for a touchdown. He finished the game with 169 yards rushing against the Bengals front four.
Bobby Wagner then returned a fumble 23 yards for a touchdown, handing a 24-7 lead to the NFL’s second-ranked defense. Unlike Monday night, when Kam Chancellor stripped the ball from Detroit’s Calvin Johnson to preserve a 13-10 win, the Seahawks couldn’t come up with the big plat they needed.
Down by 17 points, Andy Dalton did his impersonation of new-and-improved Dalton. He proceeded to throw for a touchdown, run for another, and led the Bengals on a 69-yard drive without a timeout. Nugent tied the game with a 31-yard field goal on the final play of regulation. The Bengals had remained quiet after their first quarter score until Dalton engineered the big comeback.
The Seahawks won the toss in overtime and took the ball first. The Bengals Defense held and put pressure on Wilson. They punted twice, giving the Bengals a chance to ice the win.
On their last possession of overtime, Dalton and the Bengals took over at their 43-yard line. A slow and steady offense moved the ball to the Seattle 25-yard line. With 3:42 left, Mike Nugent hit a 42-yard field goal to knockout the NFC champs. The ball hit the left upright, but managed to sail through.
Dalton finished the game 30 for 44 with 331 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. Seattle’s defense reached him for a season-high four sacks.
The game saw lots of firsts. According to Sports Illustrated, Andy Dalton’s first quarter touchdown pass ended Seattle’ streak of 20 defensive possessions without a score. Russell Wilson’s 30-yard touchdown to Jermaine Kearse was the first the Bengals have given up before halftime.
The Seahawks and Bengals gave the fans the battle they had been waiting for.
[Photos by Andy Lyons / Getty Images]