The Seattle Seahawks entered Week 5 knowing they would have to play their best game of the year on the road against an undefeated and talented Cincinnati Bengals squad.
For nearly three quarters, Seattle did exactly that. The Seahawks were able to move the ball well enough to build a 24-7 lead, while the defense forced two huge turnovers and held the Bengals’ offense well below its usual output.
However, the Seahawks would blow a 17 point lead in the fourth quarter for the first time in over a decade to lose 27-24 in overtime. The Bengals were suddenly able to throw the ball at will to a number of targets, while Seattle’s offense got far too conservative and stalled repeatedly.
Now, the Seahawks face an uphill battle at 2-3 with an excellent Arizona Cardinals team leading the NFC West at 4-1. Seattle still has the talent to make the playoffs, but will have to improve in every phase, starting next week against the Carolina Panthers.
Kam Chancellor is not up to full speed
It was safe to assume Chancellor wasn’t going to be at full speed upon his return from a lengthy holdout after missing all of training camp and the preseason. Still, after a strong showing in his debut Week 3 and a game-saving play last Monday night, Chancellor looked much like his normal self.
That wasn’t the case in Cincinnati. Chancellor was out of position and got beat in coverage often before looking completely gassed in the fourth quarter during the Bengals’ comeback.
On the Bengals opening drive, Chancellor was beaten easily by tight end Tyler Eifert for a touchdown. The Seahawks have counted on Chancellor to cover star tight ends in recent years, and he’s largely been very successful.
It’s not time to be worried about Chancellor as a possible defensive liability, but Seattle’ cant afford to have him play this poorly.
Opponents are going to pick on Cary Williams
While Williams was much maligned on his way out of Philadelphia, he has looked solid so far in Seattle’s defense opposite Richard Sherman. On Sunday, the Bengals repeatedly threw at Williams and were successful the majority of the time.
In the first half, the Bengals targeted A.J. Green whenever he was matched up with Williams. That forced the Seahawks to change their typical philosophy and have Sherman follow Green on every play.
That didn’t stop Williams’ issues, as he had trouble with Marvin Jones and Eifert late in the game. Three huge pass interference penalties also contributed to Cincinnati’s win.
The defensive collapse isn’t all on Williams by any means, and Eifert is a very difficult matchup for him. Still, one weak link can make a huge difference in Seattle’s team-oriented scheme.
There’s plenty of blame to go around on the offense
For much of the game, Seattle’s offense was playing at its highest level of the season. The offensive line held up in the first half, Thomas Rawls was effective on the ground, and the Seahawks finally let Russell Wilson throw a few deep passes, three of which hit for long gains.
With the 17 point lead, the Seahawks play calling got far too conservative to seal the game. The offensive line crumbled against a good pass rush while repeated runs up the middle with Rawls only led to three-and-outs.
While the line and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell have taken most of the blame, there are plenty of culprits behind Seattle’s scoring issues. Jimmy Graham is struggling to get open and fit in in Seattle’s offense, Marshawn Lynch being injured doesn’t help matters and Wilson himself is not playing particularly well.
There were some positive signs overall, but Seattle’s offense doesn’t look good enough at the moment to stand up to Arizona and other teams in playoff contention.
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