SEATTLE -- The Seahawks' defense was dominant for much of Sunday afternoon's meeting with Miami, and even after the unit wavered late, giving up some "leaky stuff" on a late-game drive that gave the Dolphins the lead, it reconnected and found a way to finish strong, helping secure a 12-10 victory in the 2016 regular-season opener at CenturyLink Field.
"The last drive we gave up some leaky stuff, some stuff we can easily clean up," Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman said of Miami's 86-yard touchdown drive that came with less than five minutes to play in regulation. "But I think we'll go through the film and we'll be happy with three and three-quarters of football."
Sherman helped spearhead a defensive effort that held the Dolphins to just 214 total yards, 11 first downs, and a 3-of-14 line on third down. Minus the late touchdown drive, Miami's only other points came off a Seattle turnover, and strong safety Kam Chancellor halted what looked to be a promising Dolphins drive by stuffing a fourth-and-one run play in the game's first quarter.
"I was just playing gap-sound ball," Chancellor recalled of his early-game stuff on Miami running back Arian Foster. "Had an edge and once I saw that it was a run-read I just took off and just happened to be in the backfield at the same time as the play. Been playing the game for a while you kind of just see things, it slows down for you, you see things, react fast, play fast."
The defense also collected five total sacks of Miami quarterback Ryan Tannehill, including one each from linebacker K.J. Wright and defensive ends Michael Bennett, Frank Clark, Cliff Avril, and Cassius Marsh. Two of those five QB-takedowns, Marsh and Avril's, came on the final two plays of the game, eliminating any shot of a Dolphins comeback after the Seahawks took a two-point lead with roughly half a minute to play.
"I think we saw our defense play lights out, all day long," said Seattle head coach Pete Carroll. "They did a great job. They had a couple sudden-change situations, a big fourth-down stop. All kinds of opportunities to come through, and they did. They did a really good job. I thought our pass rush was really on it today for the most part. We had a couple breakdowns, but other than that, and in the coverage we kept them in front of us like we wanted to."
Anchored by Bennett and Avril up front, the defensive line held the Dolphins to just 64 yards rushing. As such, Seattle extended its streak of not allowing a 100-yard rusher to 23 games, a run that dates back to Week 11 of the 2014 season.
"He did a good job in the run game," Bennett said of rookie defensive tackle Jarran Reed, who also recorded two passes defensed by knocking down throws at the line of scrimmage. "Ahtyba Rubin did a great job in the run game, [Tony McDaniel] did a great job. There's a lot of guys that played great today. Frank Clark did a hell of a job today, too."
And in the secondary, during a game where the Dolphins mostly shied away from Sherman's side of the field, starting right cornerback DeShawn Shead and nickel cornerback Jeremy Lane stood out, with Shead notching two passes defensed, and Lane adding another that forced a Miami punt.
"I thought both played well," Carroll said of Shead and Lane. "They made a lot of plays. Jeremy had a good game, a really active game. They did nice stuff. Most of the stuff, there's a couple misses that we had, there was a big post route that we messed up on. That's just something, we just missed it. Other than that, I thought we did a lot of great things in coverage, too."
Collectively, Sunday's effort served as a strong start to the 2016 campaign for a team that has finished each of the past four years ranked first in scoring defense.
"There's not too many teams that can drive on us with 30 seconds left," said linebacker Bobby Wagner. "All we had to do was keep everything in front of us and make plays."
Check out some action photos of Seahawks vs Dolphins Week 1 at CenturyLink Field.