Geno Smith carried the blame but there were plenty of factors in why the Seahawks faltered

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RENTON, Wash. (AP) — If something doesn’t go right, Seattle quarterback Geno Smith is usually quick to take the blame — even if he’s not completely at fault.

That was the case again Sunday after the Seahawks' frustrating 17-13 loss at Cincinnati where Smith had far from his best game.

Despite throwing for 323 yards, Smith tossed two interceptions, missed a couple of big play opportunities and at times appeared hesitant to throw. He also took a costly sack in the fourth quarter that turned first-and-goal at the Cincinnati 7 into second-and-goal at the 19, one of four trips to the red zone where Seattle failed to come away with points and ultimately proved the difference.

“I felt like the guys deserved to win today. Obviously, I didn’t do my best job today to get that done,” Smith said. “So those are things I put on myself, I lay right on my feet right, on my shoulders and I look forward to the next opportunity.”

Smith needed to be better in some critical moments, but he didn't need to shoulder all the blame for this loss. Seattle’s makeshift offensive line finally showed leaks after somehow holding together the past few weeks with several starters out. One of Smith’s interceptions was a miscommunication with DK Metcalf. And Seattle’s play calling could have put Smith in a better position for some of those red zone trips that came up empty.

“We had so many ways to win in that football game and so many ways to score and opportunities that got squandered,” Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. “But there was just a lot of positives moving forward.”

WHAT’S WORKING

Seattle defensive coordinator Clint Hurtt deserves recognition for the adjustments made in the second half that stifled Cincinnati’s offense. The Bengals were held to three points, 52 total yards and four first downs in the second half by Seattle. The three points came after a turnover and a drive during which Cincinnati gained zero yards.

Cincinnati finished with 214 total yards, the second straight opponent Seattle has held under 250 yards of offense. The last time Seattle did that was Weeks 16 and 17 in 2015.

The focus this offseason was on improving the run defense and Seattle certainly has done that. The Bengals rushed for 46 yards and averaged 3.1 yards per rush. But the overall performance has to be an encouraging sign moving forward.

WHAT NEEDS HELP

The offensive line was a mess in the second half and led to some of the problems Smith faced. Smith had been hit a total of 12 times during Seattle’s three-game win streak. He was hit 13 times by the Bengals. The protection just wasn’t there the way it needed to be, even with the return of left tackle Charles Cross after missing the previous three games with a toe injury.

Getting guard Damien Lewis back this week from an ankle injury would help the interior of the line.

STOCK UP

Jamal Adams made it through his first full game since Week 12 of the 2021 season. And on the surface he appeared to play well. Adams had four tackles, one tackle for loss and one QB hit, and played 85% of the defensive snaps.

His return in Week 4 from a torn quadriceps tendon that cost him more than a year lasted all of nine plays before suffering a concussion. Sunday was a much more satisfying return.

“That was the goal. I was just taking it one quarter at a time,” Adams said. “Obviously, I was on a little rep count. That was killing me to be on the sideline, but I understood the routine and I understood the plan. I feel great.”

STOCK DOWN

Metcalf continues to have an issue with committing undisciplined penalties. Metcalf was flagged for unnecessary roughness in the second quarter, getting penalized some 30 yards away from where the play took place. Metcalf also had a 15-yard taunting penalty in Week 1 and has five 15-yard penalties for unsportsmanlike conduct, unnecessary roughness or taunting in the past two seasons.

INJURIES

Seattle didn’t appear to pick up any significant new injuries coming out of the loss, although the health of the offensive line will be closely watched. The Seahawks don’t expect starting right tackle Abraham Lucas to be ready to return this week even though he’s eligible to come off injured reserve.

KEY NUMBER

4 — Seattle has lost its last four games following its bye week. Last year, it was a 40-34 overtime loss at home to Las Vegas. In 2021, the Seahawks lost 17-0 at Green Bay, and in 2020 it was a 37-34 overtime loss at Arizona. The last time Seattle won out of the bye was 2019 when it beat Philadelphia 17-9.

NEXT STEPS

The Seahawks will face an NFC West opponent for the first time since Week 1 when they host Arizona on Sunday. The Seahawks have won three straight in the series, but is just 2-2 in the past four meetings in Seattle.

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AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl