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Rapid Reaction: Seahawks 21, Bengals 20

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SEATTLE - It wasn’t always pretty, but the Seahawks escaped their Week 1 game against the Cincinnati Bengals with a 21-20 victory. Perhaps it was some season-opening rust, as the Seahawks had their struggles at times on both sides of the ball, but in the end they made enough plays, whether it was big Russell Wilson passes to DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett, or hard-earned yards by Chris Carson, who had a pair of touchdowns, or disruptive plays by multiple defensive linemen, to start their season with a win. 

Here are six rapid reactions to Seattle’s season-opening victory:

1. It was a feast-or-famine day for Seattle’s offense.

The Seahawks had a strange day offensively, struggling quite a bit at times to move the ball against the Bengals, while also putting together a few very impressive touchdown drives that were enough to win the game. The Seahawks' first three possessions all ended in punts with the Seahawks netting minus-1 yard, then their next drive saw them go 48 yards for a score. After a 5-yard possession, the Seahawks went 77 yards for another touchdown. Then in the second half the Seahawks had a turnover on their first play of the third quarter, had a pair of three-and-outs, then went 64 yards for the eventual game-winning touchdown.

Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver John Ross (11) makes a catch for a touchdown against the Seattle Seahawks during the first half of an NFL football game unday, Sept. 8, 2019, in Seattle.(AP Photo/Stephen Brashear)

2. The Seahawks had a hard time staying out of their own way at times.

While the Bengals deserve plenty of credit for doing a lot of things well, most notably making things very difficult on Seattle’s offense with their play up front, the Seahawks also made the game more difficult on themselves thanks to some costly mistakes. Early in the game, the Seahawks appeared to have a stop when rookie linebacker Cody Barton was flagged for running into Bengals punter Kevin Huber. Cincinnati turned that second chance into a field goal to take an early lead.

Even more costly was a play at the end of the second quarter when an Andy Dalton heave down the middle looked like it was going to possibly be intercepted, but instead it was misplayed by Tedric Thompson, leading to a 55-yard John Ross touchdown just before halftime. That was the most obvious one, but there were a handful of other coverage issues that contributed to Dalton having a huge game, throwing for 418 yards, including completing seven passes for 158 yards and two touchdowns to former University of Washington standout John Ross, issues the Seahawks will obviously focus on cleaning up before next week’s trip to Pittsburgh.

3. DK Metcalf enjoyed a heck of a Seahawks debut.

Metcalf was impressing Seahawks fans long before kickoff thanks to his decision to rock a retro Steve Largent jersey for his arrival at CenturyLink Field, but that wasn’t the only good first impression Metcalf made on Sunday.

In his Seahawks debut, the second-round pick out of Ole Miss led the Seahawks with 89 receiving yards on four catches, including a 42-yarder down the sideline that helped set up a touchdown, as well as a 25-yarder over the middle despite a hard hit. That catch also helped lead to an eventual score, a 44-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Lockett. Metcalf also drew a pass interference call in the end zone to set up first-and-goal at the 1, which set up a Chris Carson touchdown run.

4. Jadeveon Clowney made his presence felt right away.

While Ziggy Ansah’s Seahawks debut was put on hold, Seattle’s other new defensive end, Jadeveon Clowney, was on the field. While Clowney appeared to be on something of a pitch count, he still made an impact on the game in limited snaps.

In a disruptive early showing, Clowney got in the backfield and batted down a screen pass, he drew a holding penalty, helped blow up a running play in the backfield, pressured Andy Dalton into an errant third-down throw, and had the initial pressure on an eventual Quinton Jefferson sack. Clowney added his first sack as a Seahawk in the fourth quarter as part of a big stop for Seattle’s defense in the red zone.

Seattle Seahawks defensive tackle Quinton Jefferson (99) reacts after he sacked Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 8, 2019, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Stephen Brashear)

5. Quinton Jefferson had one of his best games as a Seahawk.

While there has been a lot of focus on Seattle’s new defensive linemen, it was Quinton Jefferson, a 2016 Seahawks draft pick, who came up with some of the game’s biggest plays for Seattle’s defense.

Jefferson recorded two sacks, six tackles, three quarterback hits, batted a ball down at the line of scrimmage, and he pressured Dalton on a play where the Bengals quarterback lost control of the ball, leading to a fumble recovered by Al Woods. Jefferson capped his big game by batting down a third-down pass on Cincinnati’s penultimate possession.

And speaking of Woods, the free-agent addition is also worthy of a mention for his play. In addition to that recovered fumble, he also had a run stuff on fourth-and-1 and drew a hold in the Cincinnati backfield that helped stop a Bengals fourth-quarter drive in the red zone.

Finally, Rasheem Green needs to be recognized for the sack and forced fumble that ended any hopes of a Cincinnati comeback.

6. The last couple of lineup questions were answered.

While it was pretty clear who was starting in most spots heading into the opener, there were still a couple of lineup mysteries, with Seahawks coach Pete Carroll never declaring who would be the nickel defensive back and who would handle return duties.

While things can obviously change over the course of the season, the answers to those questions in Week 1 were that rookie Ugo Amadi handled nickel duties, and that Tyler Lockett remains Seattle’s punt returner, while Rashaad Penny handled kick return duties.

Former Seahawks tight end Zach Miller raises the 12 Flag prior to the team's 2019 regular-season opener against the Bengals at CenturyLink Field.

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