SEATTLE SEAHAWKS

Yup, that was 3 pumps: Michael Bennett and the Seahawks’ D-line got their groove back

Dec 15, 2016, 11:17 PM | Updated: Dec 19, 2016, 9:31 am
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Michael Bennett recorded 25 tackles and 8.5 sacks in 2017. (AP)
(AP)

One pump. Two pumps. Three pumps. Flag.

Michael Bennett’s, let’s call it expressive, sack celebration that seemed to come straight out of a Key and Peele episode was perhaps the most entertaining part of the Seahawks’ dominating 24-3 win over the Rams on Thursday night. But it also might have symbolized something even more important.

The Seahawks defensive line was back and having some fun.

“Defensive line played amazing, man,” said defensive tackle Tony McDaniel. “We got sacks, we stopped the run, we played together as a unit so I’m very proud the defensive play tonight.”

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710 ESPN Seattle’s Danny O’Neil left Green Bay last week asking where the potent defensive line that had 31 sacks through the first 10 games had gone after picking up just one sack over a three-game stretch – and that one came when Seattle trailed by 25 points. The struggles strangely coincided with the return of Michael Bennett, arguably their best and most versatile lineman, from knee surgery.

McDaniel said that it was nice to quiet the chatter.

“Anytime you hear rips and raps about the defensive line play, it definitely motivates you to come out and show out especially a Thursday night game on prime time,” he said. “I’m glad these guys came out and showed up up front.”

Frank Clark’s first quarter sack of QB Jared Goff on Thursday was only Seattle’s second in the past four games, but it was just the start of an important snowball. At halftime, Pro Football Focus tweeted that Bennett (4), Clark (2) and Cliff Avril (2) combined for eight pressures of the Rams in the first half.

“You’ve got to get pressure on quarterbacks nowadays in order to win,” Clark said. “Last week showed that if we don’t do our job as defensive linemen, look at what can happen.”

The group collected group sacks – 1.5 apiece for Cliff Avril and Frank Clark, and one by Cassius Marsh – for a loss of 41 yards. That total nearly matched the 47 yards total the Rams managed on the ground. Bennett’s fourth-quarter sack was wiped out by an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for his “dance,” but he also contributed one of the team’s eight QB hits.

Rookie defensive tackle Jarran Reed said it was an overall team effort that rattled Goff, who completed just 13 of his 25 passes for 135 yards before leaving the game after taking a big hit near the sideline from cornerback Richard Sherman.

“Everybody just did their job, everybody executed. I feel like we got off the ball well this week,” Reed said. “Everybody is still max protecting but we were just fighting through tonight.”

Marsh said the group had great “energy” and noted that everything gets easier when the team has a lead and knows its opponent needs to pass.

“It’s always big when the D-line has a good game but I think me and Frank wanted to get a couple more there at the end,” he said. “We were hungry but we wanted to squeeze out there at the end.”

Linebacker Bobby Wagner said the rest of the defense “feeds” off the energy from the line.

“They are really great, they are an amazing group of guys and they’ve been balling all year,” he said. “We feed off their energy. When Cliff gets back there, when Mike B gets back there, when Frank gets back there and has sacks, we just feed off their energy. They’ve been great this year.”

Bennett left the game in the fourth quarter after his neck bent awkwardly on a vicious tackle of Rams running back Todd Gurley. Bennett was not allowed to talk with the press afterward because of the NFL’s concussion protocol but he was yelling and joking with reporters and his teammates.

As for the penalty, ESPN’s Kevin Seifert noted that the NFL rulebook specifically outlaws “gyrations” in celebrations. Though, Cliff Avril’s response and elbowing of a nearby offensive lineman likely didn’t help. The official didn’t specify who received the penalty after the play.

Bennett’s teammates on defense were still laughing about it in the locker room. Here’s what some of them had to say:

McDaniel: “Yeah, that was three pumps. Definitely three pumps. I was counting out, 1, 2, oh no. … I talked to him in practice about it, I said, two pumps, Michael Bennett. I need to get back to a conversation where I’m gotta have a sit-down and have a talk with him. Two pumps only, sir.”

Reed: “I figured it was coming because Mike’s been out for a minute. I figured it was coming. I think he forgot about the two- or three-pump rule or whatever it is.”

Wagner: “I thought he was gonna do two. Soon as he did the third, I was hoping that they didn’t penalize him, but they got him.”

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Yup, that was 3 pumps: Michael Bennett and the Seahawks’ D-line got their groove back