Seahawks-Bengals News & Notes - 9/20/07

There are no secrets for the Seahawks heading into a game against the Cincinnati Bengals; the focus has to be on defense. After seeing the Bengals put up 44 points in a loss to Cleveland, the Seahawks are dedicated to stopping the big play.

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SEATTLE SEAHAWKS
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"That was an unusual game," coach Mike Holmgren said. "Midway through the second quarter, it just exploded. It was a game of big plays, long plays, long touchdown plays."

It forces defensive coordinators to approach the Bengals in a different way than most opponents.

"I think you have to be aware of big plays," Holmgren said. "Most defensive coaches I think would tell you 'let's take care of the run first and then we'll play defense,' (Against the Bengals), I think you almost have to flop it a little bit. They want to throw the ball. They're good at it, they're big-play guys, and then you rally to the run. They're very explosive, and that's something that we must try and prevent, the big play."

The main issue with the Bengals is one that has been a concern for the Seahawks in their first two games -- slowing down big-play receivers. Tampa's Joey Galloway was a problem in the opener, and Arizona's Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin all have had big days against the Hawk cornerbacks.

Cincinnati's Chad Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh present the same issues as Fitzgerald and Boldin. "I would say these guys are probably a little faster with just flat-out down-the-field speed," Holmgren said. "They're big, fast and tough guys. Like last week, we've got a tremendous challenge."

And, as Holmgren pointed out, they've got somebody who can get the ball to them.

"Carson (Palmer) is a fine player," Holmgren said. "(He) is a really talented guy, a fine football player. He has all the makings of this lasting a long time for him. Clearly, he's the heart and soul of that team."

Part of Holmgren's concern is to bolster a defense that got no sacks of Cardinals quarterback Matt Leinart last week. "I didn't think we played very well, to be honest," Holmgren said. "Did I expect more? Absolutely. I expect improvement. We have good guys over there. We should be better. I was not happy with how Arizona did during that game. I talked to the team about it. I've addressed certain players. I did what I had to do. But, yes, I expect more. Absolutely I do."

The absence of injured defensive tackle Marcus Tubbs is an issue, Holmgren said, but there was no excuse for being dominated in both the rush and pass game.

"We didn't play a good game against their offensive line, and that's pretty much where the game was set up."

SERIES HISTORY: 17th meeting. The series is tied 8-8 with the Bengals winning the last meeting in Cincinnati, 27-24, in 2003.

NOTES, QUOTES

--Coach Mike Holmgren said he likes Bengals receiver Chad Johnson, and has had some cordial visits with him. "He's a good guy," Holmgren said of the colorful Johnson. "I'm not a big fan of all that other stuff, though."

Holmgren said he would strongly discourage his players from taking part in flamboyant end-zone celebrations. "This is just me," he said. "To me, I'm preaching unselfishness all the time, and the 'team' more than the 'individual.' "

--Two false starts and a pair of dropped passes against Arizona were the kind of mistakes, Holmgren said, that "I get really angry about." The last fumble that set up the game-winning field goal by the Cardinals was the result of a miscommunication between QB Matt Hasselbeck and RB Shaun Alexander. Alexander said he thought Hasselbeck audibled when Hasselbeck actually made a "dummy" call.

"This should never happen again," Holmgren said, suggesting that the breakdown was being a case of trying to be too fancy. The play was designed to be a run to the right. Alexander thought it was a pass play.

Both Hasselbeck and Holmgren shouldered the blame. "It's not my job to confuse anybody," Hasselbeck said. "Obviously, I did that, and it's tough because I take that one and I put that right on me for not executing the play that was called."

Holmgren said he should have emphasized keeping things simple in a situation where the team needs just a few yards in order to kick a field goal.

--After being blanked in the opener, receiver Deion Branch led the Seahawks with seven catches for 122 yards against Arizona. "I was committed to getting him the ball," Holmgren said. "I think we threw him the ball the second play of the game to get him going, to get him touching it. Arizona's defense was quite different structurally from Tampa's, as far as our reads and where Matt (Hasselbeck) should go with the ball. We set up formations during the week to free him up on some things and it worked ok."

BY THE NUMBERS: 35.5 -- The average number of points the Bengals have surrendered in two games this season.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "This is football, not brain surgery." -- Coach Mike Holmgren, on the team's habit of over-analyzing situations.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

The Seahawks recognized the versatility and value of defensive back Jordan Babineaux with a five-year contract extension.

"He can play corner and safety," coach Mike Holmgren said. "He has a history of making big plays. And he also has been a valuable special teams guy for us He is a good-sized guy. I was happy that they got that done. Any time you can re-sign a guy for a few years, early like that, and they don't get into free agency, you are ahead of the game."

Babineaux has been the first sub in the Seahawks nickel package. His biggest play with the Seahawks was the tackle of Dallas quarterback Tony Romo after a botched field-goal hold in the playoffs in January.

PLAYER PERSONNEL NOTES

--LB Leroy Hill (foot) has returned to practice after missing last week's game against Arizona.
--RB Shaun Alexander is expected to once again play with a cast protecting his injured left wrist.
--RB Mo Morris has not practiced, still nursing a hip injury. Alvin Pearman could see more time as his replacement.
--DE Baraka Atkins saw his first action against Arizona and appears to be ready for more time in the rotation at that spot.
--LB Lofa Tatupu has started strong this season with 20 tackles, two forced fumbles and an interception.

GAME PLAN:
The Seahawks failed to get to Arizona's Matt Leinart and the secondary paid because of it. They can't allow Carson Palmer to have the same amount of time. Look for more blitzing and stunts up front to try to manufacture pressure.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH: Bengals WR Chad Johnson vs. Seahawk CB Kelly Jennings. The Bengals will try to exploit Jennings' lack of size the way Arizona's Larry Fitzgerald did last week. Zone coverage with safety help over the top could be the answer.

--Bengals RB Rudi Johnson vs. Hawks defensive line. Johnson had a big game against the Hawks the last time they met in 2003 and the undersized Hawk defensive front has not proven it can stop a power runner.

INJURY IMPACT:
WR D.J. Hackett (high-ankle sprain) remains inactive, but linebacker Leroy Hill (foot) should be back in his starting role at outside linebacker. Backup running back Maurice Morris (hip) will likely see his playing time taken over by Alvin Pearman.

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CINCINNATI BENGALS
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Bengals defensive coordinator Chuck Bresnahan watched his defense give up 51 points and 554 yards Sunday in the loss at Cleveland. The Bengals scored 45 points and lost. The Browns had 19 of their 63 plays go for at least 10 yards.

On Wednesday, three days after the carnage in Cleveland, Bresnahan did what Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis would not -- speak candidly about the meltdown.

"Until we play with a level of consistency on this defensive unit, we're going to continue to be very, very average," said Bresnahan, the former Raiders coordinator who is in his third season running the Cincinnati defense. "When you look at the 12-play sequence from about Play 40 to 52 of the game, more mental mistakes, more things ... and this is stuff we've done the entire offseason. There's no excuse for it."

The Bengals (1-1) will get a chance at redemption Sunday at Seattle against the Seahawks (1-1).

"So to me is it close to being corrected?" Bresnahan said. "It's very easily correctable. The emphasis point this week is discipline in everything you do from the meeting room to the walkthroughs to practice to executing (in games)."

The Bengals had six takeaways in the opening-night, 27-20 victory at home against the Ravens.

"I'm not panicking. I'm telling you that right now," Bresnahan said. "We have to pay attention to detail. Go out and play the way we did in the first game, with energy. The first game wasn't perfect; but because of the energy and the turnovers, we turned potentially bad situations into good situations. You have to do that every week. You can't play like this."

Cleveland's 51 points tied for the second-most allowed by the Bengals, Jamal Lewis' 216 yards are the second-most allowed in a single game by a Bengals defense. And the Browns' 554 yards tied for fifth-most allowed by the Bengals.

"Last week you talked about how great we are, and this week it'll be how bad," defensive end Justin Smith said. "Write it any way you want. This is a week-to-week life. All we can do is go back in our cave, get some things right, and come out swinging at Seattle."

While the defense searches for a rebound, the Bengals offense looks to continue its hot start.

Carson Palmer has the early NFL lead with eight touchdown passes. Wide receiver Chad Johnson leads the league in yards (304), and fellow wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh shares the league receptions lead (17). As a team, the Bengals rank third in scoring (36.0) and third in passing yards (287.5).

But even a key offensive player, tailback Rudi Johnson, wants to see more from the offense. He commented how the Browns, coming off a miserable 34-7 showing on opening day, losing at home to Pittsburgh, found new life against the Bengals in Week 2.

"The Browns were a team with some problems, but they got together and found a way to solve them," Johnson said. "Now it's our time to work that way."

SERIES HISTORY: 18th meeting -- The Bengals lead 9-8, including one postseason game. The series is tied 3-3 in games at Seattle. The postseason meeting came during the Seahawks' AFC stint, in 1988, with the Bengals winning 21-13 in a divisional playoff game at Cincinnati's former Riverfront Stadium. It was the Bengals' first postseason step en route to Super Bowl XXIII. The Bengals won the last meeting, 27-24 at Paul Brown Stadium on Oct. 26, 2003. It was Marvin Lewis' first Bengals season, and the win was a big one, as Seattle entered with a 5-1 record.

NOTES, QUOTES

--The Bengals are 25-3 under coach Marvin Lewis since 2003 with a plus-differential in turnovers. That's a .893 winning percentage. They are .538 (7-6) under Lewis when the differential has been even, and are .167 (4-21) with a minus. They were minus-2 at Cleveland.

--Bengals coaches praised the non-rookie-like performance of first-round cornerback Leon Hall through the preseason. Sunday at Cleveland, Hall played like a rookie.
Lewis defended his prized pick when asked about Hall on Wednesday.

"We had a couple of bad plays," Lewis said. "When you play that position out there, you're going to have some bad snaps. Leon will bounce back and play better football and be the guy we know he'll be for years and years and years. So I'm not concerned about Leon in any way." Hall said that, actually, he is a rookie. "I've felt like a rookie since I've been here," he said. "I'll be a rookie all season; I'm just not going to play like one."

--Seattle coach Mike Holmgren, who played a role in the developments of quarterback greats Joe Montana and Brett Favre, was asked Wednesday by Cincinnati reporters about Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer.

"I think the sky's the limit," Holmgren said. "He's got everything you want, and I understand he's just a tireless worker. ... He's still a young man, and the elite guys play for 10 years, 12 years, 14 years, and do it year after year after year. Let him do that. Then they've earned it. Carson should be one of those guys when he's all done."

--The Bengals are 12-30 overall all-time on the West Coast but 3-3 at Seattle.

BY THE NUMBERS: 10-2 -- Bengals record the past three seasons against the NFC. The game Sunday is the first of four this year for the Bengals against the NFC West. They split four games against the NFC South in 2006.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "(The offense) hit 45 against Cleveland. There is no reason we should go backwards. That's where I'm at. Forty-five every week. Why not? We're capable of doing it, and for us to be scoring 45 in Week 2, by the time we get to Week 10 or 11 we should be at 80. That's far-fetched but you know what I mean. There's no reason we can't do it every game." -- Wide receiver Chad Johnson, on the scoring ability of the Bengals offense.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

On Tuesday, the Bengals waived Andre Frazier (who was claimed Wednesday by the Steelers) and added Dhani Jones, a former Giants and Eagles starter who had been cut at the end of the preseason by the Saints.

His immediate work will be on special teams, where the Bengals are 29th in coverage of kickoff and punt returns.

Of the seven linebackers on the Bengals active roster, three have joined since Aug. 23, the day the Bengals signed former Redskins starter Lemar Marshall. On Sept. 2, the Bengals signed former Jets linebacker Anthony Schlegel. Jones is the third.

Of the seven linebackers, one, Rashad Jeanty, remains unavailable after undergoing surgery on his lower leg at the end of the preseason. He is expected back later this month or early in October. The other three holdover linebackers on the roster are Landon Johnson, Caleb Miller and Ahmad Brooks. Jones did practice Wednesday. Brooks (groin) and Marshall (groin) did not.

PLAYER PERSONNEL NOTES

--QB Carson Palmer is 8-2 in career starts against NFC teams. Palmer's six touchdown passes against Cleveland are a single-game franchise record.
--WR Chad Johnson had 209 receiving yards against the Browns and leads the NFL with 304.
--OT Willie Anderson made his 114th consecutive start against Cleveland.
--WR Tab Perry (hamstring) is out for Seattle.
--LB Ahmad Brooks (groin) did not practice Wednesday but is expected to play against the Seahawks.
--LB Lemar Marshall (groin) did not practice.
--WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh (knee) did not practice.
--S Dexter Jackson (back) did not practice.
--S Chinedum Ndukwe (hamstring) did not practice.
--C Eric Ghiaciuc (thumb) was limited.
--DL Bryan Robinson (foot) was limited.

GAME PLAN: Play defense. The Bengals will need to force turnovers defensively against the Seahawks, who should be happy to punt 10 times if need be. The Bengals are desperately dependent on takeaways defensively. Cincinnati will have to tighten up its punt and kickoff return coverage. Until proven otherwise, the Cincinnati defense can't be counted on, and the offense will have to score early and often to quiet the Qwest Field crowd.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH:
Seahawks RB Shaun Alexander vs. Bengals run defense. Alexander would appear poised for a big game against the Bengals, who surrendered 226 yards rushing to the Browns last week. Alexander rushed for 105 in the opener, his 36th career 100-yard game, pushing the Seahawks' record to 30-6 when he reaches that mark. Jamal Lewis had 216 rush yards for the Browns. Alexander saw film of the Bengals' defensive debacle.

"I hate when a team has a poor outing the week before I play them," Alexander said. "I have always known that teams get excited to play against my offensive line and me, because my stats have been really, really (good), so that brings out the excitement to come stop that any way. But when they have a bad day, they start taking it on themselves, `Hey, we're not going to let this happen twice in a row.' It rarely does happen twice in a row. I'm already sweating bullets; how we are going to be able to get our guys to muster up and play great because that's what we're going to have to do to be able to do anything."

--Seahawks PR Nate Burleson vs. Bengals punt cover teams. Last season, the Bengals were first in average punt return yards allowed and sixth in kickoff return yards allowed. They are 29th in both categories after two games. They are giving up an average of 14.5 yards a punt return and 27.9 a kickoff return. Burleson has a 13-3-yard average with a long of 56 yards. The Bengals are changing special teams on the fly, with linebacker Dhani Jones in and linebacker Andre Frazier out. An otherwise close game could be broken open if the Bengals give up a big play in the kicking game.

INJURY IMPACT: The Bengals are thin at linebacker, where injuries have knocked Rashad Jeanty out until the bye. Lemar Marshall and Ahmad Brooks did not practice Wednesday because of groin injuries. Newcomer Dhani Jones, already slated to play special teams five days after signing, could be forced into some defensive situations.


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