In the middle of last week, Michael Bennett was away from his team to get an injection into his pained toe, which has troubled him all season.
On Sunday, he made a family decision to rejoin the Seahawks. As only he can.
“It’s super painful. About a level 10, on a one-to-10 scale. As high as it can get,” the Pro Bowl defensive end said after he hit Arizona quarterback Carson Palmer four times in the first half, replacement Drew Stanton once in the third quarter and split a sack with fellow end Cliff Avril in the fourth quarter of Seattle’s 36-6 demolition of the NFC West-champion Cardinals.
“But at this level I have three daughters. And they are going to have weddings,” Bennett said with a wry grin. “So I just play through it.”
Bennett made the point that unlike the veterans with guaranteed contracts over multiple years in Major League Baseball or the NBA, NFL players have little guaranteed beyond the present. As in, this week and day, let alone season.
Bennett has made it clear — and well-known — that he wants a new contract richer than the four-year, $28.5 million one he signed before the 2014 season.
And he’s playing like it. He finished the regular season with a career-high 10 sacks and 29 hits on quarterbacks, and last month got selected to his first Pro Bowl. His five QB hits on Sunday were a season high.
He said it was “up in the air” whether he’d play four days after getting the injection.
“At the end of the day, everybody is hurt in the NFL. That’s just how it is. It’s not the NBA,” said Bennett, who sometimes wears a jersey of his home-state San Antonio Spurs around the locker room. “You can’t take two weeks off and come back and play the next week. It’s week by week, and you have to be able to play through pain.
“That’s why people love football. They see guys with herniated disks playing in a game (when) regular people can’t walk.”
LANE BACK ON HIS EVENTFUL GROUNDS
Can’t blame Jeremy Lane if he’d rather not have a playoff rematch inside University of Phoenix Stadium this month, which is a Seahawks-Cardinals possibility.
Lane started at right cornerback Sunday as he and DeShawn Shead continued to alternate some between cornerback and fifth, nickel defensive back.
Lane intercepted Palmer on Arizona’s second drive. That gave Lane two interceptions, a broken arm and a torn knee ligament in his last six plays on the University of Phoenix Stadium field.
He broke the arm and injured the knee on his return of an interception of Tom Brady in the end zone during the first quarter of Seattle’s loss to New England in Super Bowl 49 here on Feb. 1. Lane had major surgery that night at a nearby hospital.
Lane missed the first two months of this season recovering from those injuries.
Later on Sunday, Lane injured his oblique muscle. Coach Pete Carroll said that was the Seahawks’ only new injury.
WELCOME BACK — JUST IN TIME
Strong safety Kam Chancellor missed his third consecutive game with a bruised pelvis. Kelcie McCray started for him and again drew Carroll’s praise for his tackling and overall play.
Right guard J.R. Sweezy was out with a concussion. Rookie Mark Glowinksi replaced Sweezy and twice bulldozed Cardinals defensive linemen on third-and-short runs in the first half.
On the second one, the fourth-round draft choice from West Virginia pancaked Arizona’s Rodney Gunter onto his back from his right-guard position all the way to behind where the left tackle lines up. Bryce Brown ran behind that gem for a first down.
Left tackle Russell Okung missed his second consecutive game with a strained calf. Alvin Bailey started for him again.
Tight end Luke Willson also missed the game with a concussion. That allowed Chase Coffman to be active for the first time with the Seahawks and score his first Seattle touchdown. Coffman, signed, cut and re-signed by Seattle this season, was beaming in the locker room afterward over his second career touchdown.
After the win, Carroll said he was “very optimistic” that Chancellor, Sweezy, Okung and Willson will be able to start next weekend in the playoff opener.
KASEN WILLIAMS’ FIRST GRAB
Russell Wilson went out of his way to congratulate Kasen Williams publicly after the undrafted rookie from the University of Washington got his first career catch in his second NFL game.
Williams, who has come all the way back from broken-leg and foot-displacement injuries as a junior at UW, caught an 8-yard pass from backup Tarvaris Jackson in the fourth quarter. Jackson replaced Wilson with 14:13 remaining.
Two plays before the catch, Williams caught a lateral and ran 5 yards for what was officially a rushing attempt.
Williams got promoted off the practice squad the day before last weekend’s game against St. Louis.
A smiling Shead was clutching the ball he intercepted off Stanton in the fourth quarter at the goal line, which kept Arizona stuck on six points. It was the first career interception for the fourth-year veteran and former undrafted free agent from Portland State. Teammates and coaches love Shead for unselfishly playing on every special-teams unit, then as a reserve safety, cornerback and nickel back before getting six of his seven NFL starts this season. … In his last two regular-season games at University of Phoenix Stadium, Steven Hauschka has missed four field-goal attempts and a PAT. … For the fashionistas, the Seahawks improved to 7-0 all-time while wearing their “wolf gray” uniforms.