Kyle Van Noy, the Dolphins’ $51 million man, made a $51 million play Thursday night.
His strip-sack and recovery of Gardner Minshew in the third quarter here essentially put the game away.
The Dolphins led by 14 points when Van Noy forced the turnover.
They led by 21 points three plays later.
And they went on to win by 18 points.
“I take pride in being a disruptive player,” Van Noy said. “I was close last week. I thought I let the team down by not making that play with Josh Allen.”
Van Noy had a likely pick-six thrown by Allen bounce off his hands in the Dolphins’ three-point loss to Buffalo.
Four days later, Van Noy — who finished with three tackles and two quarterback hits and destroyed Jaguars running back Chris Thompson in a blitz pick-up — didn’t let the opportunity pass him by.
The same can be said for the defense in general. The Dolphins were ranked 32nd out of 32 teams in yards per pass and per play after two weeks. Their pass rush was basically non-existent.
“We weren’t making the noise we should have,” Van Noy added.
On Thursday, meanwhile, they sacked Minshew four times and hit him on 10 of his drop-backs. They got production from defensive ends Shaq Lawson and Emmanuel Ogbah. They generated pressure with well-timed blitzes by Van Noy and Kamu Grugier-Hill.
And it seems like each of those sacks had an oversized impact.
Like Grugier-Hill’s, which came on fourth-and-6 in the first half with the Jaguars threatening.
“We’re a proud defense, proud team,” Grugier-Hill said. “Anything that affects us is going to come internally. We had a took ourselves in the mirror and figure out what defense we wanted to be. You saw that tonight.”
Dolphins coach Brian Flores said that the Dolphins’ pass rush is “something we’ve been working on. Every team wants to get pressure on the quarterback. We were able to do that tonight. There are some instances where it could be better, but it definitely improved from previous weeks. The guys came ready.”
And they rattled Minshew, who went 30 of 42 for 275 yards and an interception by Xavien Howard— for a passer rating of 79.0.
The run defense was much improved too, limiting the Jaguars to 72 yards on 17 carries two weeks after the Patriots rang them up for over 200.
“I think our defensive line is one to be reckoned with,” said Dolphins tackle Jesse Davis. “They gave up problems in practice. We knew [they] had something going.”