SEATTLE -- One of the points of emphasis for the Seahawks defense heading into their third preseason game of 2016 was to improve a pass rush that in the two games prior had recorded just one sack and eight quarterback hits. And in Seattle's 27-17 win over the Cowboys on Thursday night at CenturyLink Field, the unit answered the call, combining for four sacks and eight hits on the quarterback against a Dallas offensive line that is among the best in the NFL.
"That was really good," said head coach Pete Carroll. "The guys executed way better than we had in the first two games in terms of the pressures and stuff like that that we mixed in there. I think [defensive coordinator] Kris [Richard] did a good job of giving those guys a chance to play aggressively tonight. They took to it, they did real well."
Defensive end Cliff Avril led the way with 1.5 sacks and two quarterback hits. Joining in on the Seahawks' sack party was defensive end Frank Clark, who had a half-sack, defensive tackle Tani Tupou, whose sack also forced a fumble that fellow defensive tackle Brandin Bryant recovered, and safety Steven Terrell, who added one sack for a loss of nine yards.
"We came out there, we executed plays, knocked them back, got some sacks," said defensive end Michael Bennett, who led the Seahawks with 10.0 sacks last season. "We had fun."
Outside of Avril, Clark, Tupou, and Terrell, Seahawks players who landed hits on Cowboys quarterbacks included linebacker K.J. Wright, cornerback Richard Sherman, and defensive end Ryan Robinson.
"We did some good things, but there's still a lot of room for growth," said Avril. "I know especially for myself, there's some rushes I wish I could get back. But we did some decent things up front. Again, we're never content. We always want to keep getting better. So we're going to watch the film and make the corrections we need to make."
While the Seahawks' starters played through the first half and dialed up plenty of pressure behind Avril, Bennett, and Clark, it was the young players up front who kept the pressure on in the third and fourth quarters that ultimately helped seal the game in Seattle's favor.
"I think our young guys, I think they played very good today," said Clark, who's only in his second season but is in line for more playing time in 2016. "I believe our young defensive line they stepped up today to finish that game. The Cowboys, I give them the most respect, they kept fighting until the very end and I believe that our young guys did a good job out there today."
Added Bennett: "They did a great job. I think they all did a great job. From Quinton [Jefferson] and the rest of the guys, Tani Tupou, they all did a great job."
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Look through some photos of Seahawks vs Cowboys during Preseason Week 3 at CenturyLink Field.