CINCINNATI—A game that started off looking like a shootout, with both teams putting together long touchdown drives on their first possess, developed into a defensive battle, with the Seahawk and Bengals trading stops throughout the second half.
In the end, a great second half by Seattle's defense wasn't enough to overcome red zone struggles and turnovers by the offense, and the Bengals were able to hold on for a 17-13 win at Paycor Stadium when Seattle's final attempt at a game-winning drive ended with a turnover on downs at the 9-yard line.
Here are five rapid reactions to Sunday's loss, which dropped the Seahawks record to 3-2:
1. Empty trips to the red zone were the difference in the game.
The Seahawks outgained the Bengals by a significant margin, 381-214, and had 24 first downs to the Bengals' 15, but ultimately they came up short in this game in large part because of their inability to convert in the red zone. In what was a one-score game the entire way, the Seahawks had four trips in the red zone in the second half with a chance to take the lead, and managed just three points on those four possessions.
An interception cost the Seahawks points early in the third quarter, and Jason Myers added a short field goal later in the quarter. Then in the fourth quarter they had two deep drives late, going for it on fourth down both times, failing to convert on both occasions. The last trip to the end zone came in the game's final minute with the Seahawks driving for a potential winning score, but Geno Smith was hit trying to throw on fourth-and-goal, causing the ball to fall incomplete on the turf.
2. Turnovers also proved costly.
Through four games, the Seahawks committed only a single turnover, the fewest in the NFL heading into Week 6. And facing a tough opponent on the road, they knew taking care of the football was going to be important once again, but unfortunately a pair of second-half interceptions proved to be a big factor in a loss.
The Seahawks were driving in the third quarter with a chance to take the lead, but after a penalty made it second-and-goal from the 18-yard line, Smith tried to connect with Jaxon Smith-Njigba, and was intercepted near the goal line.
With the defense keeping the game close, the offense had another possession early in the fourth quarter down only a point, but Smith was intercepted again when there appeared to be a miscommunication between Smith and DK Metcalf. That turnover not only prevented the Seahawks from potentially taking the lead, it allowed the Bengals to add to their lead with a 52-yard field goal despite gaining no yardage on the ensuing possession.
3. Seattle's defense had a great day after two early Bengals scores.
While the Bengals were able to move the ball quickly down the field early, scoring touchdowns on their first two possessions, the Seahawks defense was great the rest of the game.
While limiting the Bengals to just 214 total yards, the Seahawks got stops on eight straight possessions following those early touchdowns, forcing six punts, one turnover—a Tre Brown interception—and a field goal on possession on which the Bengals gained no yards after a Seattle turnover.
The offense unfortunately couldn't complete the comeback to give the Seahawks a win, but it was an encouraging showing from the defense nonetheless.
4. Big Play Tre was back in a big way.
Cornerback Tre Brown missed Seattle's Week 4 win with a concussion, but he was back on Sunday and back in the starting lineup at left cornerback, and the third-year cornerback came through with some big plays for Seattle's defense.
Brown, who had an interception return for a touchdown in Week 2, added his second interception of the season Sunday, making a great play on a deep ball down the sideline. Late in the game, Brown came up with a crucial pass breakup on third-down, giving the Seahawks offense the ball with a chance to win the game.
5. The rookie receivers had productive days.
While Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf led the Seahawks in receiving, as is almost always the case, the Seahawks also saw rookie Jaxon Smith-Njigba have his most productive day, catching four passes for 48 yards. Undrafted rookie Jake Bobo also contributed some big catches, gaining 43 yards on just two receptions.
Check out some of the best action shots from Week 6 at the Bengals at Paycor Stadium on October 15, 2023. Game action photos are presented by Washington's Lottery. This gallery will be updated throughout the game.