Defensive End Cliff Avril "Has Just Been A Huge Factor" For Seahawks

Seahawks defensive end Cliff Avril registered a sack, forced fumble, and a pass defensed in Sunday's game against the Saints.

NEW ORLEANS – What has thus far been a very good year for Cliff Avril, both on the field and in the community, continued for the Seahawks defensive end on Sunday.

In Seattle's 25-20 loss to the New Orleans Saints, Avril was one of the most disruptive defensive players in the game, as has been the case nearly every week this season. Avril started his big day by forcing a fumble on a Mark Ingram run, and Earl Thomas scooped up the loose ball and turned it into a 34-yard touchdown. Avril was too focused on stopping Ingram to even realize he had knocked the ball loose, let alone notice Thomas scoring a touchdown.

"I just made a tackle, then I think my head hit the ball," he said. "Heck, didn't even know they were going the other way. I was just fortunate enough to get it, I guess."

Avril also had a sack to raise his team-leading total to 7.5, he knocked down a pass at the line of scrimmage, and he came up with a big stop on a New Orleans two-point conversion attempt. Avril might have added another sack on a play on which Frank Clark sacked Drew Brees, but Avril was held on the play.  

"He has just been a huge factor in everything," Carroll said. "He has just been a factor every time we go out there. Every game he plays the same—they're just an extension of the last one. He's playing like crazy. He's very forceful and very obvious when he's out there."

And in addition to helping the Seahawks with his play, Avril, who on Friday was named the Seahawks' nominee for the 2016 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award, is also helping make a difference in Haiti, funding the construction of a house with each sack.

When it was noted that he could have had another sack if not for a holding penalty, Avril suggested that Brees, who like Avril played at Purdue, could make a donation to the cause.

"Maybe I'll get Brees to chip in since he's a Boilermaker as well," he said.

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Seven games into the season, Avril is only 3.5 sacks away from his career-high of 11, and at age 30, a good case can be made that he's having the best season of his nine-year career, though he's not going to make that proclamation.

"I don't know, I'll leave that to you guys," Avril said. "I've been fortunate enough to get a few sacks, fortunate enough to get a few houses in Haiti, so hopefully we can keep it going."

Having Avril play at a Pro-Bowl level has been big for the Seahawks all season, but it was really needed on Sunday with Michael Bennett sidelined by a knee injury. With Carroll confirming Sunday that Bennett will have arthroscopic surgery, the production of Avril and Clark, who started in Bennett's place, will be even more significant until Bennett returns.   

"Frank did some good things," Avril said. "You could see his growth today… He did some great things, he stepped in and did some things, but it would have been great to have Mike B. as well." 

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The Seattle Seahawks took on the New Orleans Saints at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Sunday.

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