CINCINNATI (AP) — When Joe Burrow couldn’t get the ball in the end zone in the second half Sunday, the Cincinnati defense made sure the Seattle Seahawks didn’t either.
The Bengals defense intercepted Geno Smith twice. And they also twice stopped the Seahawks on fourth down from inside the Cincinnati 10 in the last 2:08 of the game to preserve a 17-13 win.
The Bengals won two in a row for the first time this season and improved to 3-3 going into their bye week.
“It’s better to win ugly than lose pretty,” Bengals coach Zac Taylor said. “That’s the first thing that hit me when I walked off the field. At times it felt ugly, especially on offense, but again our defense stepped up and made some big plays for us that allowed us to get out of there.”
The Bengals halted Seattle on fourth-and-8 from the Bengals 9 when Smith was hit by B.J. Hill and threw incomplete with 35 seconds left.
On the Seahawks’ previous drive, Smith was sacked by Sam Hubbard on fourth-and-goal at the Bengals 6 to turn the ball back over to Cincinnati.
Cincinnati scored touchdowns on its first two possessions of the game but punted six times, giving Seattle the late chances.
Burrow was intercepted by Tre Brown to start the third quarter, and Cincinnati could manage only Evan McPherson’s 52-yard field goal the rest of the way.
“There were definitely opportunities we had that we didn’t capitalize on, but we got the win,” Burrow said. “It’s a lot easier to fix things when you’re 3-3 than if you lost this one. I’m never going to apologize for winning.”
Seattle (3-2) scored its only touchdown on the first drive of the game on Kenneth Walker’s 1-yard TD run. Smith was picked off twice in the second half. He finished 27 for 41 for 323 and was running from the Cincinnati pass rush throughout.
Burrow was 24 for 35 for 185 yards. Ja’Marr Chase had six catches on 13 targets for 80 yards.
After Smith led an 11-play drive that lasted nearly 6 1/2 minutes with Walker’s TD run, it was Burrow’s turn.
The Cincinnati quarterback took 13 plays to get to the end zone, with Tyler Boyd grabbing the 8-yard scoring pass.
After a Seahawks punt, Burrow took the Bengals 73 yards for another score. Operating from the 3-yard-line, he got great protection and was able to wait for Andrei Iosivas to come open cutting across the middle of the end zone.
Seattle got a short field on a Bengals punt in the third quarter, but the ensuing drive stalled on the Cincinnati 5 when Cam Taylor-Britt broke up a pass intended for Tyler Lockett. Jason Myers’ 23-yard field goal cut the Bengals lead to 14-13.
Taylor-Britt picked off Smith in the fourth quarter and returned it to the Seattle 34, and again the Bengals faltered. Burrow threw three incomplete passes — one hit the defender in the back — before McPherson’s 52-yard field goal to make it 17-13.
“It’s extremely frustrating,” Seattle safety Julian Love said. “All in all, a good game. You can obviously look objectively at the stat sheet and all that stuff, and it doesn’t represent fully what happened out there.”
Iosivas’ touchdown grab was the first of his NFL career, and it happened on his 24th birthday. Iosivas was a sixth-round Bengals draft pick out of Princeton. After the catch, Burrow went to the officials to ask for the ball that he gave to the young receiver to keep.
“It’s right up there,” Iosivas said when asked if it was the best birthday of his life. “I had a couple of good ones as a kid. A TD on your birthday is comparable.”
Seahawks receiver Jake Bobo was evaluated for a concussion after he was hit hard by Cincinnati cornerback Dax Hill in the third quarter. Hill was flagged for unnecessary roughness. Bengals offensive tackle Orlando Brown Jr. suffered a groin injury and didn’t play in the fourth quarter.
Seahawks: Host the Cardinals next Sunday.
Bengals: After a bye week, Cincinnati plays at San Francisco on Oct. 29.