Seahawks’ defense clamps down even with Michael Bennett still out

Nov 20, 2016, 7:05 PM | Updated: Nov 21, 2016, 10:54 am

Cliff Avril recorded his team-leading 10th sack of the season in the Seahawks' win Sunday over the ...

Cliff Avril recorded his team-leading 10th sack of the season in the Seahawks' win Sunday over the Eagles. (AP)


To say Michael Bennett is unhappy about watching the Seahawks’ defense play without him is an understatement. To him, it feels more like adultery.

“It sucks watching. It’s kind of like watching somebody sleep with your wife. It’s terrible,” Bennett said on Sunday after watching the Seahawks beat the Eagles in the fourth straight game he’s missed following arthroscopic knee surgery. “You want to get out there, you want to play the game. That’s why I don’t really like coming to the game, honestly. I’d just rather watch it from my house, but I came today, it’s just fine. But you love seeing your guys make plays, you just want to be out there with them and help them.”

Seahawks beat Eagles | 710 reaction | Photos

The Seahawks’ front four has managed to put moderate pressure on opposing quarterbacks over the past month despite having their Pro Bowl defensive lineman on the sideline. And though the stats weren’t gaudy during Sunday’s 26-15 victory over the Eagles, the defensive line upped its pressure gauge despite a spate of injuries to key defensive starters in the secondary.

Philadelphia quarterback Carson Wentz had time in the pocket early in the game, but the front seven generally stiffened after that, harassing the rookie quarterback and forcing him into a few bad decisions. Middle linebacker Bobby Wagner notched one sack on a blitz and defensive end Cliff Avril added another for his team-leading 10th of the season. Avril also had four of the team’s seven QB hits on the day. Still, Avril was not satisfied.

“I feel like there’s definitely a lot of room for improvement still,” Avril said. “There’s a few plays I feel like, personally, I left out there. There were a few times I could have stayed on my feet on a good pass rush or whatnot. There’s always room for improvement and I plan on trying to improve on those things, but I’m fortunate to get a sack anyway. So that’s a plus.”

As 710 ESPN Seattle’s Danny O’Neil noted, Seattle’s defense came into Sunday having allowed more than 20 points in four of the last five games, and over the previous three weeks Seattle had allowed more touchdowns to its opponents (eight) than it had forced punts.

Wentz, the No. 2 overall pick out of North Dakota State, had a passer rating of 61.2 on Sunday, which was his second-lowest rating of the season. He threw a pair of interceptions, to strong safety Kam Chancellor and CB Richard Sherman. Cornerback Jeremy Lane said credit for the interceptions belonged to defensive line.

“The pressure is always good,” Lane said. “It starts up front, that’s what we preach. … When the D-line gets a good push and a good rush, it makes it easy for us to cover back there.”

Wagner, who had 15 tackles, also applauded the line for chewing up blockers, leaving him generally untouched. That was the case when he looped around on a blitz through a wide open middle for his sack in the first quarter.

“It was just me and him and I thought he was gonna throw it but he ducked so I just had to make the hit,” Wagner said.

As for Bennett, who said he feels good – “I’m rich and I’m black, I can’t complain,” he quipped – hopes to return to the field next week against the Buccaneers or in two weeks against Carolina “for sure.”

And, for the record, he added, “No, I haven’t had anybody sleep with my wife before.”

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Seahawks’ defense clamps down even with Michael Bennett still out