Burrow’s strong start, defense’s loud finish give the Bengals a win over Seattle

Cincinnati Bengals' Cam Sample. Photo by Phil Didion/Cincinnati Enquirer
Cincinnati Bengals' Cam Sample. Photo by Phil Didion/Cincinnati Enquirer(Phil Didion | provided//Enquirer)
Published: Oct. 15, 2023 at 4:08 PM EDT
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CINCINNATI (CINCINNATI ENQUIRER) - The Cincinnati Bengals followed the formula they’ve used in the playoffs over the last two years to earn a win over the Seattle Seahawks Sunday at Paycor Stadium.

Quarterback Joe Burrow’s efficiency got the Bengals the lead, and the defense closed the game out with big plays.

The Bengals beat the Seattle Seahawks, 17-13. Burrow was nearly perfect in the first half as the Bengals pulled ahead, and the defense picked up three turnovers after halftime to close out the game.

In the final four minutes, the Seahawks made it inside of the red zone while trailing by four points. Trey Hendrickson gave the Bengals a sack on first down and Sam Hubbard got the Seahawks off the field with a sack of his own on fourth down.

The Bengals have invested a lot in their defensive line for moments like these. When the season is at a tipping point, a good pass rush can change everything. Their sacks on Sunday were some of the biggest of their careers.

Then in the final two minutes, the Seahawks made it inside of the red zone again. On fourth down, defensive tackle B.J. Hill hit Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith as he threw to force a game-ending incompletion.

Burrow put the team in position in the first half with his most impressive stretch of the year. When Burrow is at his best, he has the ability to adjust his style of play to combat whatever the opposing defense is showing him.

Burrow can be a pocket passer or a freelancing creator. He can be a scrambler or pick defenses apart without moving. The challenge of defending him is that defenses never know what to expect.

On Sunday, Burrow had moments where he looked even better than he did in his “I’m back” performance last week. Burrow didn’t make the same jaw-dropping highlight plays. But he was efficient and read the Seahawks’ defense perfectly on touchdown throws to Tyler Boyd and Andrei Iosivas.

Burrow completed 18 of his 22 passes for 143 yards in the first half as the Bengals took a 14-10 lead into halftime.

But in the second half, the Bengals’ passing game fell apart. The Bengals didn’t have a single drive that lasted more than six plays, and the Bengals gave Seattle plenty of chances to take the lead.

Every time, the defense held on.

Cornerback Mike Hilton, the veteran in a very young Bengals secondary, showed what his instincts, IQ and athleticism mean to the Bengals’ defense. When Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith tried a deep ball into the end zone for Seahawks wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Hilton read the play perfectly and picked up the interception. He saw Smith staring down the rookie wide receiver, sprinted across the field and made the leaping pick.

Since the Bengals signed Hilton in 2021, Bengals defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo has encouraged him to be aggressive. Hilton is one of the best blitzing cornerbacks in the NFL, and he tries to play mind games with the quarterback and line up where they’re not expecting. He delivers big plays as often as anyone on the Bengals’ defense, and his interception near the goal line kept the Bengals out in front.

Cornerback Cam Taylor-Britt gave the Bengals another interception early in the fourth quarter. Taylor-Britt tracked Seahawks star receiver DK Metcalf in coverage deep down the field and showed his elite athleticism as he jumped in front of Metcalf to reel in the pass. His interception got the Bengals in good field position for a 52-yard field goal by Evan McPherson that put the Bengals up, 17-13, in the fourth quarter.

Hendrickson and Hubbard’s sacks took away another scoring chance in the fourth quarter. And then the defense made one more goal line stand with 41 seconds to go.

The Bengals enter the bye week with their first real momentum of the season. They have the same record that they did through six games last year. Burrow’s health doesn’t feel like a concern anymore. The defense still has plenty to fix, but the unit is starting to make more splash plays.

The Bengals have hit the reset button on the season. On Sunday, they beat a Seahawks team that’s a contender in the NFC.

This story was provided by our media partners at the Cincinnati Enquirer.

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