SEATTLE -- The Seattle Seahawks figured it might be a slog in the early going of their season opener on Sunday given the uncertainty about the Cincinnati Bengals in their first game under a rookie head coach/offensive playcaller who didn't reveal much in the preseason.
Was it ever.
But the Seahawks -- so often slow starters and strong finishers under Pete Carroll -- turned a 17-14 halftime deficit into a nail-biter of 21-20 win.
Seattle is not without its flaws, to be sure. Quarterback Russell Wilson was under siege Sunday and Seattle's secondary looks suspect. At any rate, a season that looked more promising after Jadeveon Clowney was acquired last week is off to a 1-0 start.
Promising trend: Seattle's defensive line looked every bit as good as advertised Sunday, and that was without an inactive Ezekiel Ansah. Clowney gave Cincinnati's tackles problems from the jump. He had one sack, helped collapse the pocket for another and broke up a pass. Quinton Jefferson had the game of his career (two sacks, two PBUs, six tackles) and Rasheem Green sealed the win with a strip sack of Andy Dalton that Seattle recovered on the Bengals' final play. Just wait until Ansah and Clowney round into midseason form after their long absences. Defensive tackle Al Woods had another significant play when he came down with a ball that slipped out of Dalton's hands.
Promising trend, Part II: Forget the idea that DK Metcalf can only run go routes. Of course, he can run those, too. The rookie receiver had four catches for a team-high 89 yards in his NFL debut. That came in a starting role only 19 days after he had minor surgery on his knee. Metcalf's first two catches came on slant routes. He helped set up Chris Carson's first touchdown by drawing pass interference on a corner route in the end zone. His big catch went for 42 yards on a deep ball down the sideline, setting up Carson's second score.
Troubling trend: As dangerous as the Seahawks' front seven looks, their secondary remains something of a question mark. Third-year free safety Tedric Thompson, starting (at least for now) ahead of second-round pick Marquise Blair, was in position to at least knock down a Dalton deep ball if not intercept it. But his mistimed jump resulted in a 55-yard touchdown by John Ross. Right cornerback Tre Flowers was flagged for illegal contact and pass interference on the same drive. Shaquill Griffin (two passes defensed) held up just fine.
QB breakdown: Wilson's day was tough to evaluate given all the pressure he faced while being sacked four times. Quarterbacks often bear some of the responsibility for sacks, but the pressure Wilson faced seemed to generally be more the result of shoddy pass-protection than Wilson not getting the ball out on time. His stat line read like one from early in his career: 14-of-20 for 196 yards, two touchdowns and no picks. Carroll will take an efficient, turnover-free performance like that as long as Wilson hits on his big-play opportunities like he did with a 44-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Lockett on the opening play of the fourth quarter.