EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The last time the Dolphins visited MetLife Stadium, they also left after thumping the Jets and it had been a good day for Olivier Vernon. He had recovered a blocked punt in the end zone, putting Miami on its way to a rout.
In the Dolphins 23-3 win over the Jets on Sunday, Vernon again came out with a memorable game. He notched two-and-a-half sacks, had 10 tackles two for a loss and had three hits on the quarterback. All were team bests.
I wasnt expecting a touchdown this time, he said afterward. I just hoping to step up in a road game, hostile environment.
Vernon did that. He led a pass rush that bothered Jets quarterback and Miramar High alum Geno Smith. And after Smith was removed for a poor first half, Vernon also pestered Matt Simms. The Dolphins had four sacks in total.
Vernon gained his first half sack midway through the first quarter, using a swim move to get past Jets left tackle DBrickashaw Ferguson and then meeting Phillip Wheeler to take down Smith.
After the Dolphins extended their lead to 20-3, Vernon shut down the Jets hopes of keeping it close. On their ensuing drive, the first play of the fourth quarter, Vernon sacked Simms for a 9-yard loss. Later in the quarter, he took Simms down again.
It was part of a difficult day for the Jets quarterbacks. Smith was pulled after completing just 4-of-10 passes for 29 yards and interception.
I was surprised, Vernon said. I didnt think they were going to do it like that. We knew we were getting in their head and it worked in our favor.
Simms completed 9-of-18 passes and was also picked off.
We just knew that we had to get pocket pressure and force them to make errors, Vernon said.
While acting as a nuisance for the Jets quarterbacks, Vernon insisted that stopping the Jets rushing attack had been the main priority. The Dolphins allowed 99 yards on 22 carries nearly a third on Chris Ivorys 32-yard run in the third quarter. Miami had come into the game allowing 123.8 rushing yards a game 25th in the NFL.
I wouldnt say weve been struggling with the run, Vernon said. It might look like that on stats. But I feel like we played a complete game this game. We still gave them a little bit too much rushing yards but Im just glad we got the win.
The game was the latest in a breakout season for the 23-year-old defensive end. He now has 10 sacks on the season and became the first Dolphin to reach that level since the 2008 season other than Cameron Wake.
After the game, in the locker room, when asked if he knew who is leading the team in sacks this season, Vernon looked down, as if trying to suppress a smile.
He goes out there every day and he gives you 110 percent and youre happy to see a guy who works that hard have production, head coach Joe Philbin said.