Seahawks notebook: Cliff Avril, Michael Bennett make their mark

Sep 4, 2014, 11:20 PM | Updated: Sep 5, 2014, 5:59 pm
Michael Bennett’s third-quarter strip-sack of Aaron Rodgers resulted in a safety for Seattle....
Michael Bennett's third-quarter strip-sack of Aaron Rodgers resulted in a safety for Seattle. (Rod Mar, Seahawks)
(Rod Mar, Seahawks)

Seahawks pass rushers have a distinct edge while operating in the din of CenturyLink Field.

With a record crowd on hand and the Packers down one of their starting offensive tackles in Thursday night’s season opener, it was borderline unfair.

Not that Cliff Avril or Michael Bennett were offering any apologies after recording a pair of sacks that turned out to be two of the biggest defensive plays of Seattle’s 36-16 win.

The victim in each instance was the same: backup right tackle Derek Sherrod, who was pressed into action when starter Bryan Bulaga left in the second quarter with an injury.

So was the result. Both sacks created a turnover, Avril’s giving Seattle possession on downs and Bennett’s forcing a fumble that was recovered by Green Bay in the end zone for a safety and a 22-10 Seattle lead. Marshawn Lynch scored his second touchdown on Seattle’s ensuing possession, effectively making Bennett’s strip-sack a nine-point swing.

More coverage of the Seahawks’ Week-1 win over Green Bay

Recap | Stats | Photos | Interviews | Carroll Show
O’Neil: What We Learned
O’Neil: Lynch, Harvin spark Seahawks’ offense
Henderson: Packers steer clear of Sherman
Stecker: Packers’ running game stumbles
Moore: Seahawks looked unstoppable

It took a quarter for Seattle to generate any pressure on Aaron Rodgers, but that was more of a product of Green Bay’s quick passing game and less of an indictment on the Seahawks’ pass rush.

“They were throwing the ball really quick,” Bennett said, “so once they started holding it a little more, we got up a little more, we got a chance to get after them a lot more and we started to get to them effectively a lot in the second half.”

Avril’s sack may not have led to points as the Seahawks ended up punting on the ensuing possession, the score remaining 20-10 in Seattle’s favor. But according to coach Pete Carroll, it was no less significant.

“I thought the big sack we got on fourth down when they were getting across the 50 there,” Carroll said when asked to identify the biggest play of the night for Seattle. “I thought that that time was when we really had a chance to let them keep going or not, and I thought that was the play that really gave us the momentum.”

Fair warning to Thomas

Earl Thomas showed his upside as a punt returner with a 59-yard return in Seattle’s third preseason game.

He showed his inexperience Thursday night, muffing a first-quarter punt after being hit right as the ball arrived. Green Bay recovered the fumble, taking over at Seattle’s 34 and scoring six plays later for 7-3 lead.

“He really should have fair-caught that ball,” Carroll said.

Thomas heard it from the coach himself.

“Coach Carroll kinda grabbed me and said, ‘Earl, this is not Pop Warner,’ ” Thomas said.

Flags down

Carroll wasn’t asked about penalties, which have been a constant issue for Seattle the last four seasons. But he was more than happy to bring it up himself after the Seahawks committed just four of them for 69 yards.

“I’m really fired up about that,” he said. “That’s showing up in this preseason with our first groups who are not getting penalized the way we have in years past. That’s a tremendous improvement for us.”

Linebacker Bobby Wagner was flagged for pass interference on a deep throw in the second quarter, resulting in a 44-yard gain for Green Bay.

“That was a huge chunk, and it really changed the drive for them, but other than that, our guys played great in that regard,” Carroll said. “I hope that maybe we’re making a move and getting smarter and making good decisions that aren’t getting us in trouble. That will really help us down the road.”


• CB Jeremy Lane left in the second half and did not return after re-aggravating the groin injury that had limited him in practice this week. Carroll said he was unaware of any other injuries.

• The announced attendance of 68,424 set a regular-season record at CenturyLink Field.

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