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Dolphins 2021 Top 10 Defensive Plays

Breaking down and ranking the top 10 Miami Dolphins defensive plays of the 2021 season, featuring Xavien Howard, Emmanuel Ogbah, Elandon Roberts and Nik Needham

With the 2021 season now behind us, we'll take a regular look back at what the Miami Dolphins accomplished through a series of top 10 lists.

In this installment, we'll rank our top 10 defensive plays..

1. Xavien Howard's fumble recovery at New England (Week 1)

Howard made a lot of big plays during the 2021 season, but none bigger than this one in the opener when the Patriots were threatening to erase the Dolphins' 17-16 late in the fourth quarter. This was great work by Howard, who just focused on stripping the ball away from running back Damien Howard and then was able to fall on it after the fumble.

2. Elandon Roberts' pick-six at Las Vegas (Week 3)

This was handed on a silver platter to Roberts after tight end Foster Moreau just stopped while running a crossing route and Derek Carr still led him with the pass. Roberts didn't show great speed on his 85-yard return, the longest ever by a Dolphins linebacker, but then again he didn't need to. This, incidentally, was Roberts' second career touchdown, the first coming against the Dolphins in the 2019 season finale when he caught a 38-yard pass from Tom Brady after lining up as a fullback.

3. Xavien Howard's fumble return for a touchdown vs. Baltimore (Week 10)

There was a lot to like about that play, with the added bonus that it came in prime time, as Howard stripped the ball away from Sammy Watkins after a short reception and zigzagged his way to the end zone to give Miami a 15-3 lead in the third quarter.

4. Emmanuel Ogbah's forced fumble vs. Atlanta (Week 7)

That forced fumble by Ogbah helped the Dolphins take a 28-27 lead late against the Falcons and the defensive end gets bonus points for the.hustle he showed while chasing down Matt Ryan from behind.

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SEE ALSO: Dolphins 2021 Top 10 Offensive Plays

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5. The punt block vs. Carolina (Week 12)

Yes, we know, technically this belongs in the special teams category, but we're not doing a special teams category so we'll include it with the defensive plays. Props here belong to Duke Riley for the punt block, which came after he ran onto the field late, and Justin Coleman for grabbing the loose ball in the air and pushing his way into the end zone.

6. Nik Needham's pick-six at New Orleans (Week 16)

Like Roberts at Las Vegas, Needham didn't have to do all that much for his pick-six in the Monday night and that was because Andrew Van Ginkel set him up by deflecting rookie quarterback Ian Book's pass at the line of scrimmage. The significance of that play is that it basically ended the game right there in the first quarter.

7. Brandon Jones' sack-strip at the N.Y. Jets (Week 11)

A year after the Dolphins shut out Joe Flacco, the veteran quarterback gave them some trouble in this game and he had the Jets on the move threatening to break a 7-7 tie early in the second quarter before Jones blindsided him to force a fumble. Christian Wilkins got the loose ball in the air, but fumbled himself after a short return. Luckily for the Dolphins, rookie Jevon Holland was there to grab the second fumble on the play.

8. Andrew Van Ginkel's fourth-down pressure at Buffalo (Week 8)

Buffalo made a bold decision in a 3-3 game just before halftime to go for the first down on fourth-and-4 from the Miami 44, and Van Ginkel made the Bills pay for it when he made a beeline toward Josh Allen and was ready to bring him down for a sack before Allen just chucked the ball away. Allen was flagged for grounding on the play, giving Miami a first down at the Bills 41, though the Dolphins couldn't take advantage of the scoring opportunity.

9. Jevon Holland's interception vs. Houston (Week 9)

The 2021 second-round pick got progressively better throughout his rookie season, but it wasn't until Week 9 that he was able to get his first NFL interception. And it was an important play in the 17-9 victory because it ended Houston's first drive in a 0-0 game after the Texans had driven from their 28 to the Dolphins 16.

10. Sam Eguavoen's touchdown (Week 18)

The final play on our list came on the final play of the regular season when Eguavoen got a freebie touchdown when he picked off a lateral attempt while the Patriots were trying to top the "Miracle in Miami" by scoring on the final play from their 3-yard line. There wasn't anything particularly spectacular about the play, but we gave it a spot on the list for the novelty aspect.