Seahawks defensive lineman Cassius Marsh tackles Dolphins wide receiver Jakeem Grant on a punt return at CenturyLink Field in Seattle on Sunday. The Seahawks defeated the Dolphins 12-10.(Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Seahawks defensive lineman Cassius Marsh tackles Dolphins wide receiver Jakeem Grant on a punt return at CenturyLink Field in Seattle on Sunday. The Seahawks defeated the Dolphins 12-10.(Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Seahawks’ Marsh atones for early miscue with big plays

SEATTLE – Cassius Marsh knew he had some atoning to do.

It was his missed assignment that led to the longest play of the game, a 50-yard screen pass in the first quarter that gave Miami its first scoring opportunity.

Seattle coach Pete Carroll let him know about it on the sideline, but then his teammates picked him up, and Marsh responded with two huge plays that helped the Seahawks eke out a 12-10 victory over the Miami Dolphins in an NFL season-opening game Sunday at CenturyLink Field.

“I fully intended on making up for it,” Marsh said. “I can’t let it affect me, but I definitely have to make up for it. I can’t let my teammates down like that and not make up for it.

“That’s not how we do things around here. We have each others’ back. They had my back, and I had to do the same.”

Marsh blocked a field goal attempt that would have tied the score early in the fourth quarter, and then, with Seattle clinging nervously to a two-point lead, sacked Miami quarterback Ryan Tannehill on what turned out to be the final play of the game.

“I’m happy. I got my first blocked field goal today and I got my first career sack, so today was a good day for me,” said Marsh, who also had two tackles on special teams.

“He had a great day,” Carroll said. “It was just a great day of playing football because it happened on special teams, coverage, it happened blocking the kick, it happened rushing the passer.

“They were all significant plays in the game,” Carroll said. “How does a backup guy be able to have that much of a factor? It’s because he’s a terrific player. He really is.”

Marsh is in his third season with the Seahawks after they drafted him in the fourth round out of UCLA in 2014. He was a defensive tackle in college, but he moved to defensive end in Seattle and even competed for the outside linebacker spot that opened up this season when Bruce Irvin went to Oakland as a free agent.

He played very little as a rookie while battling injuries. Last season he became a mainstay on special teams and also saw spot duty on defense.

If Sunday’s game is an early indication, Marsh will have an increased role this season as he and second-year player Frank Clark spell veteran pass rushers Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril.

Marsh, Clark, and Bennett each had a sack on Sunday, and Avril came close on a couple of occasions.

The Seahawks would love to see that continue.

“He’s just been fighting. He was just out there balling,” Seattle middle linebacker Bobby Wagner said of Marsh. “I’m just extremely happy that he’s out there, happy that he’s getting a chance. He finally got an opportunity to show what he’s got.”

Marsh said Sunday that it was hard for him at first to get excited about earning his stripes primarily on special teams.

“Until I got here I had never not been a starter,” Marsh said of the arc of his NFL career thus far. “It has always been a big deal to me to try to be a part of this defense.

“It was brand new, and, to be honest with you, I didn’t take it very seriously because I just wanted to be a defensive lineman. I just wanted to rush the passer,” Marsh said. “It was something that I had to get over.”

“But I had to take it seriously,” he said. “I had to take advantage of the plays where I was on the field, and that was special teams, and I saw how valuable it could be to our team.”

“He’s a brother that bought into the system,” Seattle safety Kam Chancellor said of Marsh. “We preach playing for one another and wanting to do it because you want to play for the next man.

“He knows that the next man is out there playing hard, so he’s going to bring his A game. He’s going to do his best to make a play,” Chancellor said.

That’s what made Marsh’s first-quarter gaffe so frustrating.

Playing right defensive end, he was supposed to cover Dolphins running back Arian Foster if Foster leaked out into a pass pattern. Instead, Marsh rushed Tannehill, who lobbed the ball over Marsh to Foster, who was wide open and streaked down the left sideline for 50 yards to the Seattle 26-yard line.

The Seahawks stopped Miami on fourth-and-1 shortly thereafter to minimize the damage, but that’s not the kind of play you want to make when you’re trying to earn increased playing time.

“He made a mistake in there,” Carroll said of Marsh. “He got his butt chewed on the sidelines, but, other than that, he had a fantastic day.”

Especially in the fourth quarter.

Leading 6-3, the Seahawks turned the ball over on the first play of the fourth quarter, setting up the Dolphins at the Seattle 36.

Miami picked up a couple of first downs, but the drive stalled inside the 10, and the Dolphins lined up to attempt a 27-yard field goal that would tie the score.

But Marsh got an inside angle from the right side of the defensive line and got his left hand on the kick, which fell well short of the goal post.

Marsh was asked if that was enough to make up for the blown pass coverage.

“I didn’t feel like I made up for it until we got the W,” he said.

OK, then.

Marsh sealed the victory once and for all a few minutes later.

Seattle took a 12-10 lead with 31 seconds left in the game, and Miami started its final drive from its own 18.

On first down, Tannehill came tantalizingly close to connecting with Kenny Stills on a deep ball that would have put the Dolphins into field-goal range.

On second down, Marsh and Bennett chased Tannehill out of the pocket. Marsh caught Tannehill near the sideline, sacked him and also stripped the ball out.

The ball went out of bounds so the Dolphins retained possession, but they were out of timeouts and could not get another play off when the clock restarted.

“When we got that W,” Marsh said, “I felt like, yeah, I made up for it.”

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