Chris Perkins: Dolphins’ Jalen Ramsey leads huge individual and team effort for injury-shortened defense vs. Jets
MIAMI GARDENS — The first time New York Jets standout wide receiver Garrett Wilson had a pass thrown his way Sunday was in the third quarter, and Miami Dolphins All Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey was there to knock the ball away.
Ramsey, who shadowed Wilson and covered him like a blanket all day, got up talking trash to the Jets sideline. He was justified. He balled out.
Ramsey, who ended up with no tackles and one pass defended, helped set a stingy, stubborn, determined tone for the Dolphins’ injury-riddled defense, which was missing three-fourths of its starting secondary.
“He was phenomenal,” cornerback Eli Apple said of Ramsey’s work on Wilson, holding him to three receptions for 29 yards. “Exceptional job. Had him frustrated. Was hitting him, jamming him in his face.”
Ramsey’s strong individual effort was just one of many for Miami’s defense.
And still, amid all the good stuff the Dolphins defense did during Sunday’s 30-0 victory over the New York Jets, and there was a lot of good stuff — Ramsey’s shutdown work, Bradley Chubb’s three sacks, Brandon Jones’ two interceptions, Miami’s first shutout since 2020, holding the Jets to 103 total yards, amassing four turnovers, six sacks and 14 quarterback hits — the thing that pleased linebacker Duke Riley most was how they finished.
The Dolphins, whose defense collapsed in a heap of shame in last week’s 28-27 loss to Tennessee, allowing the Titans to come back from a 14-point deficit in the final three minutes, finished strongly Sunday.
And finishing strongly is what reassures the Dolphins defense they’re ready for this rugged three-game regular-season finish of Dallas-Baltimore-Buffalo.
The Jets’ second half possessions went punt-interception-fumble-interception-end of game.
Riley said the main thing for the defense Sunday was avoiding a repeat of those final three minutes against Tennessee.
“That was the main thing today — finish the game, finish the play,” Riley said. “We did a good job of that. I was happy to see that.”
The Dolphins, whose defense was missing Pro Bowl cornerback Xavien Howard (hip), safety DeShon Elliott (concussion), safety Jevon Holland (knees), linebacker Jerome Baker (knee; injured reserve, can return for finale vs. Buffalo) and edge rusher Jaelan Phillips (season-ending Achilles), finished the Jets game in grand fashion.
The late fourth-quarter pass thrown by New York Jets backup quarterback Trevor Siemian hung in the air so long that Apple was waiting for it to land in his waiting hands. But just before it did, Dolphins safety Brandon Jones swooped in for his second interception of the day, this one coming with 2:51 remaining, snatching glory from Apple.
“I’ve got to just go get it, that’s on me,” Apple said with a smile. “But that’s cool. He got a two piece (two interceptions).”
The fumble came on a strip-sack by Chubb, who had a monster game with a team-best seven tackles, including three sacks, tying a career-best.
The previous interception also belonged to Jones.
The Jets, who scored 30 points, their second-best total of the season in last week’s 30-6 victory over Houston, rushed for just 23 yards Sunday.
The Jets had 4 yards of offense in the first half.
“I’ve never heard of that before,” Dolphins safety Elijah Campbell said.
Miami’s defense was at its bounce-back best against the offense-challenged Jets.
“The defense was incredible,” left tackle Terron Armstead said.
Miami’s defense entered Sunday’s game on a streak of three consecutive games with a pick-six (interception return for a touchdown).
That streak ended Sunday but they almost had a touchdown when defensive lineman Zach Sieler returned a fumble three yards to the Jets’ 1-yard line in the first quarter. Running back Raheem Mostert ended up scoring to give the Dolphins a 7-0 lead that was never threatened.
Miami’s defense kept the pressure on the Jets, eventually knocking starting quarterback Zach Wilson out of the game with a concussion and harassing Siemian the entire second half.
Ramsey played a big role in that, but he seemed unimpressed by his performance.
“Just doing what I do, doing what I normally do,” he said. “Found out ‘X’ (Howard) wasn’t playing probably an hour before the game (and) they told me to follow Garrett.
“Followed him, and hoped he’d get some targets. Usually, he’s like 33% of their offense, but still only got one target (on Ramsey). Pretty boring. It is what it is.”
Miami’s defense had numerous heroes in Sunday’s heroic performance. Chubb. Jones. Sieler. Wilkins. Apple. Campbell. Riley.
But the most inspirational performance might have come from Ramsey, who figures to continue it next week against Dallas’ CeeDee Lamb, the following week against Baltimore’s Zay Flowers, and in the regular-season finale against Buffalo’s Stefon Diggs.
“He’s somebody that’s very intimidating out there,” Apple said. “He’s going to be that alpha guy every time and that’s why I love his game. He never turns that off and for most receivers that’s too much for them.”