Bengals, Seahawks look to rebound after disappointing losses

Normally a team that sees its quarterback throw six touchdown passes, racks up 531 yards of offense and scores 45 points in a game emerges victorious.

Not so for the Cincinnati Bengals, who will try to improve upon a miserable defensive effort when they visit the Seattle Seahawks at Qwest Field on Sunday.

The Seahawks (1-1) need to move on from mistakes of their own, as a botched handoff cost Seattle a victory last week and resulted in a 23-20 loss to Arizona.

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The Bengals' (1-1) problems were defensive in a 51-45 loss to Cleveland last Sunday. Cincinnati allowed 554 yards of total offense to the Browns, who had managed just 221 in a 34-7 loss to Pittsburgh in Week 1. Cleveland's point total was its highest since re-entering the league in 1999.

While the Bengals put up their own offensive fireworks -- Carson Palmer had six touchdown passes and Chad Johnson caught 11 balls for 209 yards -- the defense failed to make a significant stop, allowing the Browns to beat Cincinnati in the eighth-highest scoring game in NFL history.

"From what we saw in film from (Sunday's) game, it's just a lot of bonehead, mental errors by us on defense," Bengals defensive end Bryan Robinson said. "It's guys just being where you're supposed to be and trusting your teammate to be where he's supposed to be."

Cincinnati's defense, which ranked last against the pass in 2006, was retooled in the offseason with speed in the secondary and depth along the line. But Sunday's performance marked a regression for a unit that had stood its ground in a 27-20 Week 1 win over Baltimore.

"They're put in the right spots," Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said Monday, repeatedly refusing to go into detail. "They just have to get it done, do it right consistently."

On the bright side for the Bengals, their offense is still rolling along. Palmer has set a team record for touchdown passes (eight) through two games and Johnson's 304 receiving yards lead the NFL. The outspoken wide receiver also became the Bengals' all-time leader in receiving yards with 7,229, surpassing Isaac Curtis' total of 7,101.

Cincinnati is 10-2 against the NFC since 2004, including 5-1 on the road. However, the Bengals have lost their last three road games overall dating to last season, giving up an average of 36.3 points in those contests.

"Until we play with a level of consistency on this defensive unit, we're going to continue to be very, very average," Bengals defensive coordinator Chuck Bresnahan said. "And they know that. I'm not saying anything I haven't said to them."

If Seattle bungles another end-of-game situation like it did last week against Arizona, the Bengals defense may not have to do much.

Driving to set up a potential game-winning field goal last Sunday, quarterback Matt Hasselbeck and running back Shaun Alexander ran into each other with just 1:48 remaining, causing Hasselbeck to fumble. The Cardinals recovered, drove the other way and kicked a field goal with one second left to win 23-20.

"That kind of mistake, I get angry about. No, I don't just throw up my hands," Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren said Monday. "I've already met with the team. This should never happen again."

The turn of events left Seattle puzzled, especially since the Seahawks had erased a 17-0 deficit with 20 straight points. The confusion arose after Hasselbeck waved his hands at the line before the play, usually the sign for an audible. But Hasselbeck was actually faking, a move that fooled half the team -- Alexander included -- Holmgren said.

By the time Alexander realized the off-tackle run play was still on, the Pro Bowl duo had collided and the ball was rolling away.

"It's unfortunate, because my job as quarterback is to make the job easier for everybody else, not more complicated," said Hasselbeck, who has a streak of 108 passes without an interception, currently the second-longest in the NFL. "It's tough, because I take that one and put it right on me for not executing the play that was called.

"So I take this loss very hard."

Seattle can return to the comforts of Qwest Field, where it rarely loses. The Seahawks are an NFC-best 27-6 at home since 2003, and beat Tampa Bay 20-6 there in Week 1.

Seattle is also 5-2 in its last seven games against the AFC. Alexander has averaged 136.4 yards per game in his last five contests against AFC teams, scoring 10 touchdowns in those games. Seattle is 23-2 when Alexander has at least two rushing scores in a game.

These teams haven't met in Seattle since 1999. The Bengals beat the Seahawks 27-24 at home in 2003, tying the all-time series at eight wins apiece.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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