Cassius Marsh, in his best and most productive game with the Seahawks, delivered two big hits on special teams. He sacked Miami quarterback Ryan Tannehill on the Dolphins’ final drive and forced a fumble. He also blocked a 27-yard field goal in the fourth quarter.
The guilt stuck with defensive end Cassius Marsh.
He reached the Seahawks’ sideline where, in the words of coach Pete Carroll, he got his “butt chewed.”
Marsh could handle that part of screwing up, but a mistake cost his team 50 yards, and that stung.
“The overwhelming feeling of just letting my teammates down,” Marsh said. “It wasn’t anything other than that. I let my guys down.”
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Marsh knew his mistake right away. You could tell on the field, in the moment after it happened, that Marsh knew he’d messed up.
He was supposed to stay with the Dolphins running back if he slipped out of the backfield. He didn’t, and Miami ripped off a 50-yard pass play — the Seahawks allowed only five pass plays of more than 40 yards all of last season.
But Marsh’s teammates rallied around him, told him to forget about it, move on and keep playing.
“I fully intended on making up for it,” he said.
And that’s what he did in his best and most productive game with the Seahawks. Marsh delivered two big hits on special teams. He sacked Miami quarterback Ryan Tannehill on the Dolphins’ final drive and forced a fumble. He also blocked a 27-yard field goal in the fourth quarter that would have changed the game.
“Cassius Marsh was ridiculous today,” Carroll said. “He was all over the field.”
Marsh, in his third season, is still something of an enigma.
He just started to look comfortable during his rookie season when he was lost to a season-ending injury. He played all 16 games last season, as a special-teams player and backup defensive end, but didn’t record a sack. This year, he competed for the Seahawks’ starting spot at strongside linebacker, a position he’d never previously played, before losing the job to veteran linebacker Mike Morgan.
Marsh had always been around, but he’d never be so obviously noticeable.
“How does a backup guy be able to have that much of a factor?” Carroll said. “That’s because he’s a terrific player. He really is.”
Marsh’s mistake was simple but costly.
Tannehill flipped the ball to wide-open Arian Foster, who broke a tackle from safety Earl Thomas and gained 50 yards. Marsh got to the sideline and took his butt chewing.
“That’s the kind of mistake I can’t make,” he said, “and I’ve got to be better for my teammates.”
Marsh’s two biggest plays were both in the fourth quarter. After Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson fumbled the ball trying to pitch it, the Dolphins had the ball at the Seattle 36-yard line.
The drive stalled near the goal line, so Miami attempted what looked like a sure-bet field goal. Marsh got penetration up the middle, stuck up his hand and blocked the kick, the first blocked kick of his career.
Marsh has become a productive and trusted player on special teams. The Seahawks still want to mix him in as a pass-rusher, and he picked up his first career sack.
He said he worked harder this offseason, and after he lost the linebacker job to Morgan, he said that maybe was a little extra motivation, too.
“Until I got here, I’d never not been a starter,” Marsh said. “So it’s always been a big deal for me to be a big part of this defense, to start on this defense. That opportunity opened up my eyes, and maybe that motivated me to work a little hard.”
Marsh got that same extra motivation from the mistake he made against the Dolphins.
“He played lights out,” defensive end Cliff Avril said. “He messed up earlier in the game on one of the plays, and he bounced back. It shows how much he’s matured, actually. He bounced back and had a heck of a game.”