Michael Bennett does indeed need knee surgery.
But Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said following Sunday’s 25-20 loss to the Saints in which they sure could have used the Pro Bowl defensive end’s pass rush while Drew Brees completed 27 of 35 passes on them that Bennett should have a relatively quick recovery.
Bennett will have arthroscopic knee surgery to repair cartilage damage, the coach said.
“That’s what we understand, yeah. It should be a short return. But he’s got to get it fixed up,” Carroll said. “It’s way better. We are thinking long term… He could have played and gutted it out, but that’s not the right thing to do. We are going to take care of him.”
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Without Bennett against New Orleans, Seattle used Frank Clark more as an every-down end and then inside with a rotation that included defensive tackle Tony McDaniel on passing downs.
Then McDaniel left in the fourth quarter with a twisted ankle that the team doesn’t think is all that serious.
GRAHAM SILENT ON NOLA RETURN
Jimmy Graham walked out of the Seahawks’ visiting locker room without saying a word or looking anywhere but dead ahead.
The star tight end walked that same, silent manner through a hallway and then across the entire, 120-yard length of the Superdome field to the team bus – even with a pack of Louisiana reporters and one from The News Tribune astride him.
It was the same field on which the Saints and Brees turned him into a $40 million tight end. That, until Seattle traded center Max Unger and a first-round pick to New Orleans for him in March 2015.
Graham stayed silent all last week about his return here. He didn’t even talk to Brees, his close pal, before or after Sunday’s game.
Graham had three catches on five targets for 34 yards. But Graham had only one target in Wilson’s final 10 passes, as Seattle got within 10 yards of winning at the end. Graham got just one target in the red zone, a 15-yard catch and run to the 5 in the fourth quarter before a short field goal by Steven Hauschka.
“Obviously, he had a great career here,” Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson said. “But he’s looking to continue to look forward to build on what he’s … doing here for us…
“I mean, I love the guy to death.”
PICK PLAYS GALORE
On third and goal from 2 for the Saints with 12:30 left in the game, inside receiver Willie Snead got away with plowing Jeremy Lane 3 yards into the end zone. Outside receiver Brandin Cooks ran a slant behind Snead’s block for New Orleans’ go-ahead touchdown on a 2-yard pass from.
Lane and the Seahawks’ bench howled in protest.
Lane said the official covering the play said he made no effort to avoid the contact, so he didn’t throw a flag.
“Really?” Lane said he told the official.
Rules state teammates cannot block for receivers past 1 yard beyond the line of scrimmage.
On third and 5 at the Seattle 44 with 4 minutes left and New Orleans leading 22-20, Lane got run over again by Snead. Cooks ran another 2-yard slant under the pile up, then ran 18 more yards to the Seahawks 24. That led to the Saints’ field goal that made Seattle need a touchdown instead of field goal on the final drive to win. The second pick not called also forced the Seahawks to use all its time outs on defense, creating a harried, scrambling last drive for the offense over the final 1:50.
Seattle’s last time out came after the sideline official ruled safety Kelcie McCray threw Saints running back Tim Hightower out of bounds after a catch only after McCray had stopped Hightower’s forward progress in bounds. So the clock kept running to 2:22.
“I don’t know what to say about that one,” Carroll said. “You guys saw it better than I did.”
In between the pick plays, Sherman’s holding penalty on third and 6 at the New Orleans 45 also extended the Saints drive to that field goal. Sherman was as hopping mad over that as he was the picks on Lane.
Sherman also said officials originally talked about pass interference on safety Earl Thomas when he contacted Cooks as the ball arrived in the first quarter. Then when they realized Cliff Avril deflected the pass to negate PI they changed the call to illegal contact, a foul that applies before the ball is in the air.
Sherman said at one point an official said to him, almost in resignation, “we are tying the best we can.”
DEFENSE STRONG AGAIN
New Orleans had eight plays inside the Seahawks’ 5-yard line in the game’s first 41 minutes. Seattle stopped the Saints on seven of them.
Sherman and Frank Clark slamming into running back Tim Hightower from the 2, an incomplete pass, and tackle Ahtyba Rubin blasting through a block and dumping Hightower for a 2-yard loss on third down forced a short Saints field goal late in the third quarter. That temporarily preserved Seattle’s lead, 17-16.
It took five tries from inside Seattle’s 5-yard line before the Saints scored a touchdown on Brees’ reach across the goal line from a half-yard out. The first touchdown allowed by Seattle’s defense in 120 minutes of game time, back to the third quarter of the win over Atlanta Oct. 16, got the Saints within 14-13.
(TOO) HAPPY EARL
Thomas picked up his first fumble recovery in two years, ran it in for a touchdown — then hugged the sideline official for a hilarious unsportsmanlike penalty he was glad to get. Until he got it.
Side judge Alex Kemp smiled – then flew the flag.
Asked what Kemp said to him as he hugged him, Thomas said: “Nothin’.
“Just happy, bro. I didn’t realize they penalized me.”
Rookie draft choice Joey Hunt finished the game in his NFL debut at center, after Justin Britt left with what Carroll said was a “stinger” nerve pinch in his neck and shoulder area. … Seattle, you may have heard, had 11 penalties. New Orleans, which was averaging 7.5 flags accepted against it coming in, had two Sunday. …
Holder Jon Ryan dropped the accurate good snap from rookie Nolan Frese on the final play of the first half. Steven Hauschka, who was making 59-yarders with yards to spare pregame inside the dome, never got the chance to increase Seattle’s lead. So it stayed 14-13 into the third quarter.