Everything was stacked against the Cincinnati Bengals. They were a young team heading into a hostile stadium, coming off a bye week, facing inclement weather, without two of their main offensive weapons. The Bengals looked both history and adversity in the eye and never blinked, routing the Seattle Seahawks 34-12.
The Seahawks elected to defer, giving the Bengals the ball first. Andy Dalton converted his first third down throw to Andre Caldwell and then two Seattle penalties helped move the ball into Seahawks territory. Bernard Scott had a couple of nice runs to move the ball down to the 30 where Dalton converted again, this time to Brian Leonard out of the backfield. After an Andre Smith false start got the Bengals behind the sticks, Dalton's third down completion to AJ Green came up short. Mike Nugent connected from 34 yards out, giving the Bengals a 3-0 early lead. All told, the Bengals drive traveled 53 yards and ate up 8:16 off the clock.
The Bengal defense also started out well, forcing a three and out on the Seahawks first possession. That's when Adam Jones made his presence felt. Jones, seeing his first action in over a year, returned the Seahawks punt 63 yards to the Seattle 26.
The Bengals cashed in quickly. After two Bernard Scott runs picked up a first down, Andy Dalton threw a bullet to Jerome Simpson from 14 yards out. The Bengals led early 10-0 and the Seattle crowd began to turn on the home team.
Seattle's next drive got a helping hand from Reggie Nelson. He dropped a sure interception and then committed a personal foul that bailed them out of a third and long. Seattle QB Charlie Whitehurst moved the team inside the Bengals 40. A sack and a holding penalty moved the Seahawks back, but Whitehurst found Ben Obamanu for 14 yards as the first quarter expired, keeping Seattle in field goal range. Steven Hauschka somehow wobbled in a field goal from 47 yards to get the Seahawks on the board.
On the Bengals next drive, Seattle's special teams tackled Brandon Tate inside the 20. The Bengals caught a huge break when an Andy Dalton pass appeared to slip out of his hands going backward where Dalton dove on it at the one. The officials invoked the "tuck rule" and called it an incomplete pass, averting a disastrous outcome. The Bengals were held but were able to punt it out of their own end. Another three and out by the Bengals defense gave the offense the ball right back.
After a Bengals punt, Seattle replaced Whitehurst with Tarvaris Jackson, On the first play from scrimmage, however, RB Marshawn Lynch fumbled and it was recovered by the Bengals Gibril Wilson at the Seattle 31. Two holding penalties, however, moved the ball back out of field goal range as the Seattle defense put some pressure on Dalton.
After the Bengal defense stifled the Seahawks again, Dalton took the Bengals on another time-consuming drive that was capped off by an impressive 43 yard touchdown pass off play action that saw Dalton deftly step up in the pocket to avoid the rush and hit Green perfectly over the shoulder in the end zone. With just under two minutes left in the half, the Bengals led 17-3.
Seattle finally got a big play when Tarvaris Jackson found Ben Obamanu open in the flat. Obamanu for 32 yards and then went to the other side to Doug Baldwin for 21 down to the Bengals 11. After tight end Zach Miller came up short on third down, Pete Carroll rolled the dice on fourth down. Curiously, he called a draw play to Marshawn Lynch who was stopped short of the goal line. In spite of gaining a first down, the clock expired before Seattle could spike the ball, allowing Cincinnati to go into the locker room still with a two touchdown advantage.
For the half, Dalton was 13 of 18 for 125 yards and two touchdowns. The Bengals outrushed the Seahawks 43-9 and held the ball for almost 19 minutes. The big story was the penalties. Cincinnati was whistled seven times for 65 yards while Seattle committed six infractions for 55 yards.
On Seattle's opening drive of the second half, they picked up one first down, but had to punt. giving the Bengals their first crack of the new half. The Bengals could do no better going three and out as the Seahawks registered their first sack of Andy Dalton.
Seattle moved into Bengals territory on a nice play action pass from Jackson to Michael Robinson , but on third and one on the Bengals 33 Landon Johnson knifed into the backfield and tackled Marshawn Lynch for a loss. The Seahawks had to punt again.
Andy Dalton found TE Donald Lee, subbing for an injured Jermaine Gresham, for 26 yards on third down, taking the Bengals onto Seattle's side of the field for the first time in the half. Brian Leonard dragged a Seattle tackler for another first down inside the Seattle 40, but Andy Dalton would be intercepted looking for AJ Green down the right sideline. Seattle's Richard Sherman went up to grab the under thrown ball and came down in bounds at his own 9 yard line.
On the second play, Jackson found Obamanu for 55 yards down the left side. Leon Hall got caught looking back and Obamanu easily got behind him. Marshawn Lynch then finally got some running room and took it 10 yards down to the Bengals 25. A bubble screen pass to Sidney Rice picked up another 15 down to the 10. On third down, Jackson scrambled and lofted one in the back of the end zone to Rice who couldn't come down inbounds. Steven Hauschka added his second field goal to cut the deficit to 17-6 with four seconds left in the third quarter.
With the Bengals needing a first down to stem Seattle momentum, Andy Dalton found Andre Caldwell for a third down conversion and then Bernard Scott ran for 14 yards taking the ball out near midfield. Then on third and seven, Dalton under threw Green again with Cam Chancellor of Seattle coming down with the interception.
The Bengals had the Seahawks backed up on third down, but former Seahawk Kelly Jennings was beaten down the right side for 32 yards. Then Jackson found Sidney Rice for 35 more yards down to the Bengals 14. From there, Marshawn Lynch picked up another first down and then waltzed in untouched from the three. Pete Carroll opted to go for two, but Nate Clements made a nice defensive play on Ben Obamanu to break up the pass. The Bengals lead was down to 17-12 with 8:55 to play.
Brandon Tate made a nice return of the ensuing kickoff, giving the Bengals good field position out at the 38. After a defensive holding penalty on Seattle, Bernard Scott ripped off a 16 yard run down to the Seattle 40. Another penalty on Seattle for illegal contact gave the Bengals five more yards and another first down. There the drive would stall when Andre Caldwell was stopped short of the marker. Mike Nugent was good for his second of the game, this time from 48 yards and the Bengals lead was extended to 20-12 with 4:50 remaining.
The Bengals defense rose to the occasion when they needed to. Carlos Dunlap sacked Jackson on third down forcing a Seattle punt. Brandon Tate, back returning punts after Adam Jones hamstring injury, broke free and scored on a 56 yard return. That put the Bengals up by two scores with only 3:22 remaining.
From there, Seattle went into hurry up mode. Jackson found Doug Baldwin to get the ball out near midfield. Another couple of passes got the ball to the Cincinnati 35 at the two minute warning. Then the Bengals defensive line took over, pressuring Jackson into three incompletions. Charlie Whitehurst misfired on fourth down after Jackson went out injured.
The Bengals had to give the Seahawks the ball one more time after the Seahawks burned all their time outs. Jackson came back out . He was picked off by Reggie Nelson who returned it 75 yards to make the final score 34-12.
On a day when all the intangibles seemed stacked against them, the young Cincinnati Bengals recorded their first road victory since 2003 and made head coach Marvin Lewis the winningest coach in franchise history.
After today's impressive win in Seattle, it's not too early to start thinking about playoffs as the Bengals hit the meat of their schedule. Cincinnati will try to improve to 6-2 next week in Tennessee as they take on the Titans.
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