RENTON, Wash. -- Tony McDaniel played in 95 NFL games before finally getting a chance to take part in the playoffs. It took Michael Bennett 66 NFL games to get here. And Cliff Avril only played in one playoff game in his five seasons at Detroit.
All three men are veteran defensive linemen who signed with the Seahawks in the offseason as free agents. Seattle needed to shore up its defensive front and add pass rushers, and the Seahawks had something to offer this trio besides money.
They all came to Seattle for the same reason -- a chance to play in the Super Bowl.
“That was everything for me,” said McDaniel, who played three years at Jacksonville and four at Miami without reaching the playoffs. “That was the deciding factor. This means the world to me.”
All three men are one victory away from that Super Bowl trip they thought was possible when they signed with the Seahawks. Sunday’s NFC Championship against the San Francisco 49ers is the last step.
“This is what it’s all about,” Bennett said. “But we still have work to do to get there. I’m here because this is what I wanted.”
This actually is Bennett’s second stint with the Seahawks, but he never played a regular season game with the team until this season. Bennett signed with Seattle as a free agent out of Texas A&M in 2009, but was waived early that season and claimed by Tampa Bay. He played four seasons for the Bucs before returning to the Seahawks.
Bennett, who has been Seattle’s best defensive linemen all season, didn’t waste his first playoff appearance. He had two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery, half a sack and six tackles, including one for loss, in the victory over New Orleans.
Avril, who was in on that sack with Bennett last weekend, has been exactly what the Seahawks were hoping for as an edge pass rusher with 8.5 sacks and five forced fumbles this season.
Four of his five years with the Lions were losing seasons.
“I can’t describe how big this is for me,” Avril said. “It took six years for me to just get to this position. I didn’t win any games my rookie year , so for me to be here right now it’s huge. We have to definitely soak it all in and have fun with it and make sure we go out there and play our best.”