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Originally published September 29, 2013 at 5:48 PM | Page modified September 29, 2013 at 11:31 PM

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Michael Bennett’s injury becomes inspiration for Seahawks

Bennett was carted off after head snapped back late in the first half. Coach Pete Carroll said later that Bennett suffered a “strained muscle in his back that really grabbed him and really hurt him.”

Seattle Times staff reporter

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HOUSTON — Seattle defensive end Michael Bennett couldn’t come back and play after a scary incident in the second quarter Sunday.

That he was able to come back to the sideline at all, though, helped ease the minds of his Seahawk teammates and provide a little spark as Seattle completed a rally from 17 points down to beat the Houston Texans 23-20 in overtime.

Bennett, who has emerged as one of Seattle’s best pass rushers, was carted off the field after he hit Houston quarterback Matt Schaub at waist level, Bennett’s head snapping back as his helmet flew off. Bennett lay facedown on the field for 10 minutes or so, then was placed on a board and transported to a hospital. Tests for significant damage were negative, and he came back to join the team as it completed its comeback and then led a team cheer in the locker room afterward.

Coach Pete Carroll said later that Bennett suffered a “strained muscle in his back that really grabbed him and really hurt him. They were just really concerned because it was close to his vertebrae. They weren’t sure what it was, so they took good care of him. But he’s OK.”

Carroll said it was unclear when Bennett will be able to play again.

Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman said seeing Bennett injured “was an emotional time for us as a defense.”

Sherman said it was equally emotional when he returned.

“He said, ‘Man, just come on, win this for me. I’m not going to be able to come back in this one,’ ” Sherman said.

Bowie handles pressure

The Seahawks were forced to go with a vastly remade offensive line as center Max Unger (triceps) and right tackle Breno Giacomini (knee) were unable to play. Those injuries combined with the loss of Russell Okung to a toe injury last week meant Seattle was without three of its regular starters.

Lemuel Jeanpierre got his first start of any kind since 2011 and just his second career start, and rookie Michael Bowie got his first career start at right tackle.

Bowie hadn’t played before getting 30 snaps in reserve duty last week against Jacksonville.

Houston’s defense dominated early, holding the Seahawks to 88 yards in the first half. But the line began to hold up better as the game wore on.

“You could tell we were scrambling for a while, and we had a hard time picking them up and getting things done up front,” Carroll said. “But they hung tough and they finished it off.”

Bowie was often matched up against Houston defensive end J.J. Watt, last year’s Defensive Player of the Year.

“I just kept telling myself ‘You are here for a reason, and they have confidence in you to start, so go in there and do what they expect,’ ” Bowie said. “When you love this game, you want those kind of guys, you want to go against the best. I was looking forward to it the whole time.”

Baldwin straddles the line

Carroll said he thought the officials initially got the call right when they ruled incomplete Doug Baldwin’s key 24-yard catch in the fourth quarter.

The call was reversed on replay, giving Seattle a first down at its own 29 on the eventual 98-yard scoring drive.

“It was so close it was worth the challenge,” Carroll said. “...It was the right thing to do to challenge because at the time we were reaching and clawing and scratching a little bit.”

Baldwin, too, said he was unsure at first, until he was told by teammate Sidney Rice that the catch was good.


Steven Hauschka’s 45-yard field goal in overtime was his first career game-winner.

• Houston played much of the second half without standout linebacker Brian Cushing, who was being evaluated for a concussion.

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