This is a Miami Dolphins defense that is filled with pride and entered the 2013 season wanting to prove it deserved to be mentioned among the league’s elite units. Today it lived up to that billing in a dominant 23-3 road win at the New York Jets with four sacks and three turnovers.
The New York Jets had no answer for the constant pressure being brought by Miami’s front seven from the first series until the final one when the outcome was no longer in doubt. Rookie quarterback Geno Smith was sacked once and picked off once in a first half that saw the Dolphins limit the Jets to just 5:48 of possession and no points.
Second-year defensive end
“We knew we just had to get into the pocket, pressure (Smith) and force him to make errors,” Vernon said. “But initially we had to stop the run. That’s the main thing we had to do because they’re a great running team and that’s one thing we had to capitalize on. … I feel like we played a complete game today. We still gave up too many rushing yards (99) but I’m just glad we got the win.”
This is the first time Miami’s defense has held an opponent to just three points since last December 16th in a 24-3 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars at Sun Life Stadium and the first time on the road since winning 31-3 at Kansas City on November 6th, 2011. In terms of yards allowed, the 177 given up to the Jets were the lowest total of the season.
Head Coach Joe Philbin knew how important it was for his defense to have a big game in front of a hostile crowd at MetLife Stadium and he got what he wanted from the very first series. Actually, he saw all he needed to see on Smith’s first play from scrimmage when Vernon and Wheeler converged on him for an 8-yard sack.
“I though our defense played well,” Philbin said. “We came out of the gate fast and we got good pressure early on him and I thought our coverage down the field looked pretty good as well. So I don’t think he had a ton of options or quick places to go with the football and it’s a credit to our coverage, too.”
Philbin felt good enough about his defense that he didn’t hesitate to have his offense go for it twice on fourth down because of how they were containing the Jets. That wasn’t lost on the defensive players.
“I think as a defense we love having that pressure on us,” said Vernon, who also had a big game last year in the same stadium with a touchdown off of a blocked punt and a blocked field goal. “The offense is going to do whatever they can to set us up and we know just on defense we’re going to finish them off.”
Rookie running back
Miami stays on the road next Sunday at the Pittsburgh Steelers with a 1 p.m. kickoff at Heinz Field between two teams battling for that sixth and final AFC playoff spot.