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Reporter Bob Condotta grades the Seahawks’ loss at the Bengals in Week 6

CINCINNATI — There was, at least, one small consolation for the Seahawks Sunday — a missed field goal by San Francisco’s struggling rookie kicker Jake Moody that prevented the 49ers from taking an even bigger lead in the NFC West.

Something of a cheer could be heard from the Seahawks locker room as Moody’s kick missed wide right and the 49ers lost for the first time all season to fall to 5-1 a few minutes after the Seahawks lost here to the Bengals, 17-13.

Still, in some ways that only exacerbated Seattle’s frustration in falling to 3-2 in a game that was there for the taking — and the taking, and the taking, and the taking.

Four times in the second half Seattle got to the Cincinnati 9-yard line or closer. And three times they were stopped — twice on downs and once via an interception — and another time forced to settle for a field goal.

It all put to naught a game in which Seattle outgained the Bengals 381-214, held what is supposedly one of the most dangerous offenses in the NFL to 4 yards per play and gave up just 52 yards on 25 plays in the second half.

But the inability to turn that into a win stung in the moment and will linger into the rest of the season. 

On to some grades from one of the stranger games in recent Seahawks memory.

Quarterback

If you read just this stat line — 27-for-41 for 323 yards — you’d give the quarterback who turned that in an A. But if you read the stat line of two interceptions, one in the red zone, and taking a sack on one fourth down and throwing a hurried incompletion on the other, you’d give that quarterback an F. We’ll somewhat split the difference here and note that Smith in between the 20s was fine — but in the red zone, he was not, as Smith himself admitted numerous times in his postgame news conference. NFL QBs ultimately are judged on if they make the winning play, and Smith didn’t. 

Grade: D-plus

Running back

This felt like it should have and could have been a better game for the running attack as Kenneth Walker III made some things happen at times. But he ultimately finished with just 62 yards on 19 carries, including gaining no yards on two straight carries from the 5 in the third quarter — one for a gain of 1 and the other for a loss of 1. Zach Charbonnet was curiously quiet, with just 5 yards on two carries, and 14 yards on two receptions.

The biggest killer here was two penalties on Walker in the second half, including one for an illegal block below the waist when Seattle was at the 3-yard line. Smith was intercepted on the next play at a time when the Seahawks had a chance to take the lead in the third quarter.

Grade: D

Receiver

This was another weird game for DK Metcalf, who left briefly to have his hip examined, appeared to stop on a play when a Smith pass was intercepted in the fourth quarter (for what it’s worth, both took the blame later) and was called for yet another personal foul on a hit far away from the play. He finished with just four receptions on 10 targets for 69 yards. Tyler Lockett was steadier with 94 yards on six receptions, including the 36-yarder that got Seattle close at the end. Jaxon Smith-Njigba (4-48) and Jake Bobo (2-43) had their biggest outputs of their rookie seasons. But the inability to score when it counts will linger.

Grade: C

Tight ends

There wasn’t a lot of statistical numbers here — 5-25 from the group as a whole. Colby Parkinson appeared to be the intended target on the final play, which would have made up for a lot had it worked out. Seattle also again seemed to work out of two tight end sets quite a bit. 

Grade: B-minus

Offensive line

The line was again short-handed. With Damien Lewis out, Phil Haynes moved to left guard, and rookie Anthony Bradford filled in on the right side. Charles Cross returned at left tackle for the first time since the first half of the season-opening loss against the Rams.

Much of the time, the line seemed to hold up OK — Smith was sacked four times, but an initial review indicates Smith didn’t help things by holding on to the ball too long.

Seattle, though, needs to run it better than it has so far this year — the Seahawks had 3.5 yards per carry. 

Grade: C-plus

Defensive line

For two series, this game looked like a train wreck for the entire defense. Then, the entire defense rose up and played one of the best games it has in years, beginning with the job of the guys up front. Jarran Reed and Dre’Mont Jones each had sacks, and Reed and linebacker Jordyn Brooks also combined for a stop of Joe Mixon on a third-and-1 in the fourth quarter that kept Seattle in it. Jones and Reed are becoming a lethal combination inside. 

Grade: B-plus

Linebacker

Boye Mafe had turned in his third sack of the season — tying his rookie year total — while the Seattle front seven put the clamps on Cincinnati’s running game throughout as the Bengals had just 46 yards rushing on 15 carries, holding Mixon to 38 on 12. 

Grade: B-plus

Secondary

Given the setting and the opponent, this might have been the best game of the season from the secondary. True, Seattle was chewed up on the first two drives. But allowing just 17 points to the Bengals on the road — and three coming off a turnover — was playing winning football for the defense, with the secondary at the forefront of that effort. Tre Brown, who started the game as the left cornerback in the base defense, intercepted a Joe Burrow pass on the first possession of the third quarter, a play that could have easily turned the tide in Seattle’s favor if the offense had done just a little better.

Jamal Adams got the start at safety and turned in a big stop on a third down in the fourth quarter. Devon Witherspoon again made his presence felt with three pass defenses and four tackles. And Quandre Diggs might have had his best overall game of the season with eight tackles, one keeping the Bengals to a 3-yard gain on a third-and-4 in the second quarter at a time when the Bengals appeared on the verge of taking control of the game. 

Grade: A-minus

Special teams

Jason Myers hit two field goals, including a 55-yarder in the second quarter when the score was 14-7 and a miss might have proved pretty pivotal. And DeeJay Dallas used a Michael Jackson block to spring for a 23-yard punt return to set up good field position — a drive that unfortunately ended in a field goal instead of a touchdown. 

Grade: A-minus

Coaching

A game with so many missed opportunities inevitably puts focus on the play calls. Yet, an initial viewing makes it hard to criticize them too much. Going for it on the fourth down with 2:08 remaining made sense in the moment. And the defensive coaches deserve some credit for switching up the game plan after the first two series — Seattle was bringing a lot of pressure early, but with Burrow and the Bengals picking that apart, wisely played more conservatively the rest of the game. Still, it’s hard not to wonder if something different could have been done on one of those four red-zone possessions that didn’t turn into touchdowns. 

Grade: B-minus

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