He sacked. And danced. He tackled. And danced. He disrupted. And danced.
And when it was all over Sunday afternoon,
When Bennett became an unrestricted free agent this year, he could have gone elsewhere and for more money. But the payday he wanted included what had just transpired at CenturyLink Field – the Seahawks are champions of the NFC West and the conference’s No. 1-seed heading into the playoffs, in large part because of Bennett’s contributions.
“I came here to win championships and play in big games,” said Bennett, who was with the Seahawks for a while as a rookie in 2009 before going to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for 4½ seasons. “I got a chance to do that with all these guys.”
Bennett contributed a sack to the defensive dominance that produced a 27-9 victory over the St. Louis Rams in the Seahawks’ regular-season finale – and the Rams’ season finale. It gave Bennett a team-leading 8.5 for the season. He also had a team-high 25 QB hits while playing primarily on the nickel line used in passing situations.
Just how good was the Seahawks’ defense that ranked No. 1 in so many categories on this afternoon when so much was on the line? The Seahawks held the Rams to 13 rushing yards and 158 yards overall – and 71 came on their way-too-little, way-too-late touchdown drive in the fourth quarter.
The Seahawks had two more interceptions, giving them a league-leading 28. The Seahawks also led the NFL in takeaways (39), turnover differential (plus-20), average yards (273.6) and passing yards (172.0) allowed and, most importantly, average points allowed (14.4). That’s a combination that has never been matched in the team’s 38-season history.
And everybody got into the playmaking act, all season and especially on Sunday in what was perhaps the finest three hours by the NFL’s finest defense. From fellow linemen
“All these guys making plays, it’s just a blessing to be out there with them,” Bennett said.
“That’s the kind of defense we are,” Bennett said. “We’re the kind of defense that can score. We’ve got big-time players at every position and they can make big-time plays.”
But the play that perhaps best exemplified the performance of the defense on this day came when Sherman, Thomas and Maxwell collided in the end zone while trying to grab a fluttering pass from Kellen Clemens, who was hit by Avril as he was throwing.
“How about that play?” coach Pete Carroll said. “It looked like piranha going after the football.”
With that said, here’s a look at three other things that worked against the Rams and something that needs work as the Seahawks head into their playoff bye weekend:
The defense – Did we mentioned the 2013 unit became the first in franchise history to rank No. 1 in the NFL?
Despite this ebb-and-flow production, the coaches stuck with the run and Lynch finished with 97 tough yards on 23 carries. It primed his pump, and that of the offense, for the playoffs.
“I think the thing we have to do is stay committed to what we do, and that’s handing the ball to Marshawn Lynch – and also play-action, and getting the ball out quick and also throwing it deep when we can,” quarterback
“We’re a physical football team, and it shows. Our running back – No. 24, Marshawn – he does a tremendous job of setting the tone for us.”
The acquisition of talent – General manager John Schneider and staff, take a bow. Carroll and staff, also take a bow. The Seahawks’ next-man-up philosophy works so well because the next men up can play.
From Maxwell, to Smith, to offensive linemen
What needs work
Offensive consistency – The Seahawks did have the 80-yard drive to Lynch’s career-best 14th touchdown, as well as a 47-yard TD pass from Wilson to
“We just need more consistency,” Pro Bowl center