Bennett a big part of Seattle's success

SEATTLE -- There are many reasons the Seattle Seahawks have reached the NFC Championship Game, but the play this season of defensive lineman Michael Bennett is one of the big ones.

It tells you all you need to know about Bennett that moments after playing one of his best games of the season Saturday, he only wanted to talk about the plays Seattle’s defense didn’t make.

“We could have played a way better game,” Bennett said after the 23-15 playoff victory over the New Orleans Saints. “The rain caused us to miss a lot of tackles when guys spun away from us.”

Ball carriers were spinning away from Bennett. He finished the game with six tackles, including one for loss, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery, one quarterback hurry and a shared sack with Cliff Avril.

The Seahawks' staff hasn’t made many mistakes on player decisions, but you can bet they wish they had signed Bennett to more than a one-year deal. Bennett will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season after signing a one-year, $5 million contract with Seattle last spring.

Bennett has been the best defensive lineman this season on a team loaded with talented players on the defensive front. He ended the regular season with 8.5 sacks and 26 quarterback hurries, along with a touchdown on a fumble recovery in the Monday night game against the Saints.

“You can’t hide talent,” Seattle defensive lineman Red Bryant said about Bennett. He’s a phenomenal player. I feel like he’s an All-Pro caliber player. To come into this league as a free agent and be one of the premier D-lineman in the league is a testament to his skills.

“He deserves everything he’s doing and we’re a better football team when he’s on the field. Everybody can see that. So if I've got to come out for him to be on, I’ll set that road.”

Bennett doesn’t start, although he gets a significant number of snaps at both end and tackle on the defensive line. That versatility is one of his best assets.

“We move him around and do all kinds of things with him,” Seattle coach Pete Carroll said after Saturday’s game. “Mike’s been a great addition. Shoot, he’s made plays all year. Just the way he plays is so fitting for us. He has a great style to him, an unusual player that has a variety of things he does well.”