FOXBORO, Mass. — As Cassius Marsh jogged off the field late in the first quarter of Sunday night’s New England Patriots-Atlanta Falcons game, he was greeted by an unfamiliar sight: an elated Bill Belichick.
The source of Belichick’s joy? A big play on special teams.
With the game still scoreless, Marsh pulled a swim move on Falcons tackle Jake Matthews and blocked a 37-yard field-goal attempt by Matt Bryant. New England proceeded to keep Atlanta off the scoreboard until late in the fourth quarter en route to a 23-7 victory at Gillette Stadium.
Belichick celebrated the block with a rare fist pump, then high-fived Marsh as left the field.
“He only really smiles in situations like that,” the defensive end said after the game, “so you’ve got to cherish those moments.”
Marsh, who was traded to the Patriots from the Seattle Seahawks shortly before the start of this season, said he’d only received that type of recognition from Belichick once before.
“I think that’s probably my second one,” said Marsh, adding that his sack against the Houston Texans elicited a similar reaction from his head coach.
As for the blocked kick itself, Marsh credited the work done by defensive linemen Malcom Brown and Lawrence Guy to occupy the two inside blockers. Linebacker Dont’a Hightower also helped create a lane for Marsh by driving the outside blocker backward.
“It’s just penetration, staying low,” said Marsh, who has also blocked a kick last season. “You’ve got to penetrate, stay low and drive on the tight end’s inside shoulder, then ricochet to the blocking point. And keep your feet most of the time, because a lot of times you end up tripping up on somebody’s leg.”
Belichick also called the blocked field goal a full-team effort.
“Cassius has gotten some opportunities in practice,” Belichick said. “It?s hard to block (Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski). Steve gets good height on the ball, gets the ball off quickly. I think this one with not quite as much height maybe as Steve’s ball, or at least what Steve’s balls were in practice, Cassius got a hand on it.
“It was a big play for us because we worked so hard on that, and that?s everybody across the board. That?s all 11 guys, not just the guy that blocks it. The other guys have to do their job, and if they block Cassius and take him away, then that gives somebody else an opportunity. So we never know how that?s going to go. We just want everybody to come hard and do their job right and wherever the opening is it is. That was a big play for us.”
“Again, you can see the whole team — we were all excited. Sideline, players, guys on the field. That was a big moment for us.”
Thumbnail photo via Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports Images