Since Pete Carroll became Seattle Seahawks head coach in 2010, the team has beaten 30 of the other 31 teams in the NFL.
Who is that one elusive team you may ask? Well thank you for asking (and presumably not reading the headline), the answer is the Cincinnati Bengals!
We are less than three months away from Seattle’s 2019 regular season opener against Cincinnati, who are coming off a third consecutive year of missing the playoffs. There’s a damn good chance they won’t be a good team this year, as rookie head coach Zac Taylor takes over for (the finally departed) Marv Lewis. Combine their relative lack of talent with Seattle’s historically great September home record under Carroll, and you can almost pencil this in as a W already! (Note: Don’t do this)
With Seattle having moved to the NFC in 2002, the Seahawks and Bengals have only played each other four times: Twice under Mike Holmgren and twice under Carroll. Seattle’s two meetings with the Bengals under Pete Carroll have been unsatisfactory for different reasons.
In 2011, the Seahawks started Charlie Whitehurst even after that dismal 6-3 loss to the Cleveland Browns. He was ineffective and replaced by Tarvaris Jackson, who had been injured but was healthy enough to play if necessary. Despite a 300+ yard passing performance by T-Jack, the Seahawks offense struggled to score, but they were still very much in position to win the game thanks to interceptions by some rookie named Richard Sherman and a first-year starter named Kam Chancellor. With just over five minutes remaining in the 4th quarter, the Seahawks were only down 17-12 to a Bengals squad led by a rookie Andy Dalton. Unfortunately, Cincinnati doubled its tally to 34 points after a field goal, a punt return touchdown, and a garbage time pick-six. The 34-12 final stands as Seattle’s third-heaviest home loss under Carroll, and one of the most outrageously bullshit things I’ve ever seen in an NFL game was ruling this throw an incomplete forward pass.
In the bigger picture, the Bengals made the playoffs that year while the Seahawks were just wrapping up a horrible stretch of football that saw them start out at 2-6 before making a legitimate wild card push into late December.
Fast forward to 2015 and you have a different set of storylines. The Seahawks were 2-2 and coming off a very fortunate win over the Detroit Lions on Monday Night Football. Cincinnati raced out to a 4-0 start and looked the part of a legitimate contender, whereas there were question marks about Seattle after the dramatic cancellation of Super Bowl XLIX.
Cincinnati raced out to a 7-0 lead at Paul Brown Stadium, but the Seahawks responded with 24 unanswered points. Bobby Wagner scooped and scored. Thomas Rawls was beloved and gashed the Bengals defense for 169 yards and a very nice 69-yard touchdown. All seemed well with 15 minutes to play and a three-possession advantage.
As was a familiar theme with the 2015 Seahawks, protecting leads in late-game situations were a major problem.
The offense mustered up one first-down in the entire 4th quarter. Seattle’s defense rather meekly let the Bengals pick up chunk plays for fun and only pushed them into third-down twice, with one of them essentially a botched play that forced the kicking unit to rush onto the field for the game-tying field goal. A 17-point lead disappeared in the blink of an eye, but there was still overtime!
A crucial underthrown incomplete deep ball thrown by Russell Wilson to Tyler Lockett on the opening possession of overtime essentially blew Seattle’s best chance at rescuing themselves. The two teams traded punts until the Bengals managed a short field off a decent return by Pacman Jones. Mike Nugent was eventually trotted out for the 42-yard game-winner, and he hit the upright but it bounced through the uprights to complete the comeback — alternatively, cap off one of the worst collapses in Seahawks history. For one day, the Bengals weren’t the Bungles. They waited until the playoffs to return to being the Bungles, as is tradition.
And so Seattle and Cincinnati will battle again to kick off the 2019 campaign. In addition to Carroll’s 0-2 lifetime record against Cincy — Carroll never played the Bengals when he coached the New York Jets and New England Patriots — the Bengals are also one of two teams the Seahawks have never beaten under Russell Wilson, with the Los Angeles Chargers improving to 2-0 against Russ thanks to last year’s 25-17 victory in Seattle. This is not only a chance to start the season 1-0 for the first time since 2016, it’s an opportunity for the Seahawks to officially complete the rounds and say they’ve beaten all 31 opponents throughout the 2010s.